The creation of a National Communication offers countries the opportunity to contribute with technically sound studies and information that can be used for designing mitigation and adaptation measures, and project proposals that can and will help increase their resilience to the impacts of climate change. Activities generally include: V&A assessments, Greenhouse Gas Inventory preparation, Mitigation Analysis or Education, and awareness raising activities. The ultimate goal is the integration of climate change considerations into relevant social, economic and environmental policies and actions.
While current adaptation programming in Dominica focuses on a number of different sectors (e.g., tourism, agriculture, gender), it most frequently addresses needs in the areas of coastal zone management and improving the capacity of government to create an enabling environment for adaptation. The majority of projects emphasize capacity building, research and knowledge sharing, and additional plans to implement adaptation measures on the ground. Dominca faces a number of challenges in maintaining fresh water supplies, protecting agricultural yields from fluctuating precipitation and saline intrusion, maintaining coastal habitats, and securing expanding populations from extreme weather hazards.
To view progress on Dominica's SNC click here.
The Commonwealth of Dominica is located in the Caribbean Sea, and was the last of the Caribbean islands to be colonized by Europe. Dominica is a mountainous volcanic island, with very rugged and steep terrain (John, Bellot and Parry, 2001). The island has rich biodiversity, a perennial river system, and extensive rainforests. 60% of the land area of the country is covered by vegetation, including scrub woodlands and lush tropical forest (John, Bellot and Parry, 2001). Dominica’s tropical maritime climate is influenced by the North East Trade Winds and its rugged topography results in micro-climate variability over small distances (John, Bellot and Parry, 2001). The country is located along the tropical Atlantic hurricane belt and has experienced approximately 15 extreme weather events since 1979.
Dominica’s population is approximately 72,000 people, 90% of whom live in coastal villages (John, Bellot and Parry, 2001; USDS, 2010). The country’s main economic sectors are rain-fed agriculture (with major crops including bananas, citrus and coconuts.), government services, banks and insurance, wholesale and retail trade, and transport (John, Bellot and Parry, 2001). Climate change is expected to impact on these sectors in three ways:
(a) Temperature Changes affecting range of species, water flow in watersheds, reduced food availability for wildlife and increased forest pests, disease and vulnerability to extreme climate events.
(b) The threat presented by sea level rise to the coastal habitats (e.g. coastal freshwater ponds, brackish water systems, mangroves and arable floodplains) is substantial. Increasing pressure on forest reserves due to loss of coastal agricultural lands by salinization. Loss of coastal forests due to inundation and increasing storm events (e.g. mangroves and low lying tropical dry forests). Migration or loss of wildlife species from altered habitats.
c) There is also the potential for greater frequency and intensity of storms in the Caribbean leading to the risk of landfall. Terrestrial ecosystems are severely affected by tropical disasters.
Along side these effects, the coastal ecosystem faces additional stresses while the beaches also experience erosion and inundation. Elevated sea temperatures can also impair the coral reefs of Dominica through bleaching. Studies done by the Fisheries Development Division in 1998, reported that approximately 15% of the coral showed sign of bleaching (Guiste 2000, personal communication). Moreover, as sea levels rise, there will be destruction of mangroves reducing the availability of fresh water for keeping the Salinity balance. Dominica's fresh water supply is also vulnerable to major hurricane impacts as water quality is affected through landslides, gully erosion and flooding.
As much of Dominica's important infrustructure is located along the coastline, close to the present sea level, this makes them vulnerable to flooding and storms. Furthermore, 90% of the population is dispersed among coastal villages, with the main population center, Roseau, locaded along the leeward coast. Most settlements have very little room for expansion except through hillside residential development, or density increases in already built up areas. As a result, population increase in certain districts is leading to the increasing emergence of hillside developments on the fringes of the existing towns and on small coastal headlands. These areas are highly susceptible to the ravages of extreme events such as hurricanes.
While it is difficult to quantify the impacts of climate change on Dominica's agriculture, banana - as the most significant crop in Dominica - is very sensitive to levels of precipitation. A stark contrast in optimal productivity is observed when the above average rainfall production is compared to drought production levels. There was a 17- 37% difference in the 1970's and a staggering 53-60% difference in the 1980's. In addition, crops such as vegetables are extremely sensitive to the fluctuations in precipitation. Excess rainfall tends to increase the incidence of pest and diseases leading to declining productivity, whilst drought conditions lead to reduced yields. Extreme events inflict damage directly on food systems through the destruction of crops and livestock and the erosion of farmlands.
Adaptation Needs and Priorities
The country experiences one of the highest levels of rainfall in the Caribbean, distributed among a drier season from December to April and a wetter season from June to November (John, Bellot and Parry, 2010). The country’s First National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) identifies the following sectors as being vulnerable in Dominica:
- Forestry and terrestrial resources: Possible impacts of climate change on the country’s forest ecosystems include: an alteration in the range of species; reduced water flow; an increase in forest pests and disease; and reduced food availability for wildlife.
- Coastal ecosystems: A rise in mean sea level could cause a loss of beach area; rising temperatures may damage coral reefs along with the island’s tourism sector and fishery; and increased mortality of mangrove forests.
- Water resources: Depending on future changes in precipitation on the island, climate change could result in flooding, landslides, reduced water for domestic use, and saline invasion of drinking water.
- Human settlements and infrastructure: Given that most of Dominica’s infrastructure is located in coastal areas, more frequent extreme weather events and sea level rise could adversely impact these human settlements.
- Agriculture: Impacts could include: declines in the country’s main crop, bananas, which are very sensitive to changes in precipitation; losses due to extreme weather events such as cyclones; and changes in yield due to rising temperatures and variable precipitation.
- Fisheries: The fisheries sector is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change as a result of the expected consequences of rising sea temperatures on coral reefs.
- Tourism: The impact of climate change on coastal zones, fisheries, and coral reefs could adversely affect this burgeoningindustry.
National Level Policies and Strategic Documents
In 2001, Dominica submitted its First National Communication to the UNFCCC, and is expected to complete its Second National Communication in the near future. Following its participation in the “Mainstreaming Adaptation to Climate Change” (MACC) project Dominica also recently approved a national policy on climate change, although details regarding it are not immediately available (CIF, 2009). In addition to these measures, Dominica has established an Office of Disaster Management within the Ministry of Public Utilities that is responsible for overseeing the country’s risk reduction measures (UNDP, 2009).
Current Adaptation Action
In comparison to other Caribbean countries, Dominica is currently participating in a moderate number of regional and global adaptation projects. Dominica is one of six countries benefitting from pilot activities through the “Pilot Program for Climate Resilience,” a global initiative funded by the World Bank’s Strategic Climate Fund that aims to reduce countries’ vulnerability to climate change in key areas.
In addition to its participation in the recently completed MACC project, Dominica is also a participant in the “Special Program on Adaptation to Climate Change: Implementation of adaptation measures in coastal zones,” financed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) that addresses the impacts of climate change on natural resources in four Caribbean countries. As well it is one of the countries being studied through the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility’s “Economics of Climate Adaptation Initiative,” a research program that aims to estimate the economic impacts of climate change and the costs of adaptation in the Caribbean.
While current adaptation programming in Dominica focuses on a number of different sectors (e.g., tourism, agriculture, gender), it most frequently addresses needs in the areas of coastal zone management and improving the capacity of government to create an enabling environment for adaptation. The majority of projects emphasize capacity building, research and knowledge sharing; about a third plan to implement adaptation measures on the ground.
Proposed Adaptation Action
Adaptation projects and program presently proposed for implementation in Dominica were not identified through this review.
Dominica has addressed adaptation at the policy level through the preparation of a national climate change adaptation strategy (CIF, 2009), and through the “Economics of Climate Adaptation Initiative,” the MACC project, and the “Pilot Program for Climate Resilience,” appears to be engaged in further policy formation and integration efforts to address the impacts of climate change.
The country is also benefitting from participation in several adaptation projects that address the priority adaptation needs outlined in its National Communication. These needs include those related to coastal zones, agriculture, tourism, and risk reduction efforts. Gaps in current adaptation action appear to include a lack of activity within the socioeconomic sectors of human settlements and infrastructure, forestry and fisheries. However, it is possible that needs in these areas are being addressed through Dominica’s more development focused programming.
- Medeiros,Hove, Keller, Echeverría, Parry (2011) “Review of Current and Planned Adaptation Action: The Carribean.” Adaptation Partnership / International Institute for Sustainable Development.
- Climate Investment Funds [CIF] (2009). Dominica Template: Acceptance offer to participate as a country pilot within the Caribbean Regional Program under the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR). Retrieved from http://www.climateinvestmentfunds.org/cif/sites/climateinvestmentfunds.o...
- Homer, Floyd (2009). Developing Pilot Projects for Climate Change Adaptation in Dominica: Report on the Technical Forum on Climate Change - Special Programme for Adaptation to Climate Change Project (SPACC). Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, Belmopan, Belize. Retrieved from http://126.96.36.199/M-Files/openfile.aspx?objtype=0&docid=2839
- John, B.M., Bellot, A., and Parry, M. (eds.) (2001). Commonwealth of Dominica. Initial National Communication under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Roseau, Dominica: Ministry of Agriculture and the Environment. Retrieved from http://unfccc.int/essential_background/library/items/3599.php?rec=j&prir...
- United Nations Development Program [UNDP] (2009). Country Assessment Report for the Commonwealth of Dominica: Enhancing gender visibility in disaster risk management and climate change in the Caribbean. Retrieved from http://www.undp.org.cu/crmi/docs/crmi-gttfcnadominica-bp-2009-en.pdf
- United States Department of State [USDS] (2010). Background Note: Dominica. Retrieved from http://www.state.gov/r/pa
Key Results and Outputs
- Sustainable development and the integration of climate change concerns into medium- and long-term planning
- Inventories of anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases
- Measures contributing to addressing climate change
- Research and systematic observation
- Climate change impacts, adaptation measures and response strategies
- Education, training and public awareness
Monitoring and Evaluation
In 1992, countries joined an international treaty, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to cooperatively consider what they could do to limit average global temperature increases and the resulting climate change, and to cope with whatever impacts were, by then, inevitable.
Parties to the Convention must submit national reports on implementation of the Convention to the Conference of the Parties (COP). The required contents of national communications and the timetable for their submission are different for Annex I and non-Annex I Parties. This is in accordance with the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" enshrined in the Convention.
The core elements of the national communications for both Annex I and non-Annex I Parties are information on emissions and removals of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and details of the activities a Party has undertaken to implement the Convention. National communications usually contain information on national circumstances, vulnerability assessment, financial resources and transfer of technology, and education, training and public awareness.
Since 1994, governments have invested significant time and resources in the preparation, collection and validation of data on GHG emissions, and the COP has made determined efforts to improve the quality and consistency of the data, which are ensured by established guidelines for reporting. Non-Annex I Parties receive financial and technical assistance in preparing their national communications, facilitated by the UNFCCC secretariat.