Climate Fragility Risk Brief: The Caribbean

Fuller, Carlos; Hannah Elisabeth Kurnoth and Beatrice Mosello 2020: Climate Fragility Risk Brief: The Caribbean. Berlin: adelphi.

Caribbean countries, most of which are small island developing states (SIDS), have long suffered from the destructive impacts of natural hazards, including hurricanes, severe weather events, droughts and sea level rise. Climate change is projected to make these dangers worse. Its impacts are adding to the pressure of population growth and rapid urbanisation on limited land space and food, water and energy resources, resulting in environmental degradation and rising unemployment, inequality and poverty.  

This risk brief identifies three critical pathways that link climate change to fragility in the Caribbean:

  • Climate-induced disasters can cause political instability through their impacts on key economic sectors.
  • Climate impacts could lead to social unrest by compounding livelihood and food insecurity.
  • Climate-induced loss of livelihoods could increase opportunities for criminal activity and urbanisation challenges.

Based on the analysis in this risk brief, the authors suggest that, to address the compound climate and fragility risks, governments and political decision-makers at national, regional and local levels should move towards:

  1. Understanding and addressing climate risks in a more integrated way, including greater incentives for businesses to take climate action, as well as more cross-sectoral cooperation and dialogue between ministries and governmental departments at both national and local levels.
  2. Coordinating more systematically especially with the security and defence sectors, to enable a cross-sectoral response to address the full breadth of the environmental, economic, social, political, and security challenges linked to climate change.
  3. Promoting bottom-up collaborative approaches to resilience-building, and institutionalising local knowledge and capacity into resilience-building activities and strategies, while also providing an opportunity for the equal and meaningful participation of women, youth, and particularly vulnerable groups such as indigenous communities or persons with disabilities.
  4. Leveraging existing formats and instances of regional cooperation to address climate-security challenges and increase integrated and comprehensive risk management, including between different sectors and communities of practice. 
  5. Continuously engaging at the international level to capitalise on opportunities for support and establish partnerships to address climate and security risks, while at the same time offering climate resilience expertise from the Caribbean to other SIDS.