INTRODUCTION TO THE RESEARCH CONTEXT
The Caribbean region is already experiencing the effects of climate change, and this is only expected to worsen. The link between climate change and disaster risk has become abundantly clear for the small island developing states of this region, as their high-risk profile for disasters has been compounded by increasing ocean temperatures (leading to increased wind speeds in tropical storms) as well as increased frequency and intensity of the yearly hurricanes affecting the Atlantic and the Caribbean Sea.
Among the most affected small island Caribbean states, the Commonwealth of Dominica is fast becoming a global standard in improving resilience through legislation and governance. In 2017, the island was devastated by Hurricane Maria, a category 5 storm and one of the most destructive of the 10 consecutive hurricanes to hit the Caribbean during the hyperactive 2017 Atlantic hurricane season. This catastrophic event put every aspect of Dominica’s government, economy and society under strain, wiping out entire neighborhoods and crippling businesses and social services for months.
At the same time, the passage of hurricane Maria also provided the country with a unique opportunity to review its regulatory and infrastructure systems, with the integrated goal of advancing climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction in a wider strategy to ensure sustainable socio-economic development. Since 2017, the country has made significant choices designed to have a long-term impact on its governance model, including the adoption of laws, strategies and plans, and the establishment of a Climate Resilience Execution Agency.