Vance Center Helps in Resilient Islands Initiative

February 2020

(City port in Grenada | Photo Credit: Shutterstock/studiobarcelona)

The Vance Center is supporting The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in its partnership with the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to advance climate adaptation in the Caribbean. Among the regions of the world most vulnerable to the climate crisis, the Caribbean is facing immense challenges. Climate scientists predict that storm frequency and intensity, flooding, wind damage, and sea level rise will worsen, damaging hospitals, power plants, freshwater sources, roads, houses, and schools. Recognizing that these impacts devastate the lives and livelihoods of local residents, TNC and the IFRC have launched the Resilient Islands initiative in the Dominican Republic, Grenada, and Jamaica.

The initiative aims to counter climate change impacts by promoting the use of coastal ecosystems to reduce climate and disaster risks. Ecosystems, such as coral reefs and mangroves, are habitats that support fisheries, attract tourists and physically protect beaches from erosion and flooding. Working with governments, communities, and partners, TNC and IFRC are building an “adaptation toolkit” that will integrate community- and ecosystem-based adaptation into their local, national and regional decisions to show how nature-based solutions can protect vulnerable communities.

The Vance Center Environment Program is working with law firms Dentons (Barbados) and Headrick to evaluate how the legal and institutional frameworks for ecosystem-based adaptation in the three countries correspond to a set of principles developed by International Union for the Conservation of Nature. The firms are engaged in an extensive review of domestic laws regarding forests and biodiversity, humanitarian/disaster risk, air, land, water, health, infrastructure, and energy, among others. A report on each country will offer recommendations on ecosystem-based adaptation both within the existing legal structure and based on amendments to those laws to foster climate adaptation. TNC, along with IFRC, will rely on the county reports in designing innovative tools and training leaders to carry out demonstration projects for the Resilient Islands initiative, with the goal of empowering the countries against the climate crisis.