If you’ve been following along, you can see the Caribbean has a very special place in my heart. Both sides of my family are from the island of Cuba, and the surrounding archipelago has similar cultural – and environmental – ties to each other. My larger research focuses on deforestation in Haiti and the Dominican Republic (DR), but this will hone in on a few policy recommendations for the DR, specifically.
My white paper, Capturing Opportunity Through Forests, details the specific problems facing the small-island nation hoping to reach emissions reductions targets by 2030. A few “out of the box” solutions were presented relating to policy through the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, as well as political mobilization and agitation through social movements.
An interesting part about adaptation and resilience-building is the reputation it carries. Burch and Harris in Understanding climate change: science, policy, and practice have discussed the unattractiveness of adaptation projects by politicians:
“… adaptation was often seen as an admission to failure on the issue of human-contributed climatic change.”
Mitigation projects make the country look like a proactive member of saving the world from itself, while adaptation was seen as a “plan B” to solving the issue of climate change.
What makes this policy paper different is the refusal to talk about mitigation and adaptation as mutually exclusive. Instead, coupling mitigation efforts and resilience-building strategies will create stronger policies that will reduce harm while building capacity for vulnerable communities.
The Dominican Republic knows vulnerability pretty well: a small island-nation surrounded by water and a rather unfriendly neighbor to the West, this nation of modest wealth must quickly react to the natural disasters and extreme weather events being thrown at its people and its economy.
According to the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) set in place before the 2015 agreement made in Paris, the DR was ready to create ambitious reduction targets – with the majority of them being nature-based solutions. That is, solutions that will be focusing on the health of the ecosystem first – which will ultimately benefit the populations surrounding it.
Within the negotiation, I had the chance to talk about these NDC targets with delegates who represented the Dominican Republic. Although the NDCs have been quite successful so far, I intentionally left out a few of the concerns within the video that the ministers had on measuring projects’ success, and having an accurate benchmark to compare.
Like many other countries, the DR’s Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources has a range of measurements that are closer or farther to the real percentage of progress when concerned with the reduction of greenhouse gases. Both ministers, Mr. Pedro García and Dr. Carol Franco, agreed the only way to solve this problem is to continue to train the future generation of climate scientists and researchers. In the meantime, “stabbing in the dark” to continue towards reduction of greenhouse gases occurs within the ministry.
To get a quick rundown on the policies presented, and conversations with representatives at the negotiation, feel free to watch this video detailing the suggestions and the opinions held by researchers and delegates from the Dominican Republic.