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Climate change realities in Small Island Developing States in the Caribbean

Impacts of climate change can already be felt today and adverse impacts are expected to increase in the future. The causes of such negative effects include both extreme events and slow onset events. In the Caribbean there has been an increasing trend in the recorded number of weather and climate hazards and their associated impacts. Climate change poses significant risks both to the people and economies of the Caribbean region by exacerbating the islands’ existing vulnerabilities. While it is challenging to measure comprehensive and long-term impacts of current weather and climate events, it is even more difficult to quantify residual risks associated with projected climate change. Common challenges faced by Caribbean nations in responding to disasters include: strong dependence on
external humanitarian assistance and grants, the need to give up planned developmental priorities, incurrence of
additional debts in an effort to close the financing gap, continuous set-backs in socio-economic and environmental recovery and rehabilitation due to the recurrence and accumulation of adverse impacts. This may mean countries remain in “permanent repair mode”, which significantly impacts their ability to plan for and build ex-ante
resilience. The Caribbean experiences point to the need for a comprehensive, structured approach at the local, national, regional and international levels to deal with the adverse impacts of climate change. Such an approach must be based on donor harmonisation, and address all phases of the climate and disaster risk management process. In particular, innovative approaches to address impacts associated with slow onset events should be explored.