On 18 September 2017, the Commonwealth of Dominica suffered the world’s worst environmental and economic disaster to date, but the resilient nation is rebuilding.

Just two years after Tropical Storm Erika passed over Dominica in 2015, Hurricane Maria hit, lashing the small island with extreme winds, flash floods and landslides. The impact of the hurricane was devastating for all citizens and their families.

Located in the Caribbean within the Atlantic hurricane belt, Dominica is known as the Nature Isle. It is ever vulnerable to high-intensity weather including excessively high winds, tremendous amounts of rain, and hurricanes. Given that most of Dominica’s infrastructure exists along with narrow coastal areas made of mostly wood and galvanised sheeting, residential housing finds itself in a particularly precarious position in adverse weather.

Following a massive local and international clean-up operation, the country started to rebuild, focussing on constructing climate-resilient housing, funded by the country’s Citizenship by Investment Programme. The Programme allows well-vetted investors and their families to contribute to a government fund or pre-approved real estate on the island in exchange for citizenship. These funds have provided a much-needed lifeline in rebuilding, with a focus on housing through Dominica’s ‘housing revolution’. The project forecasts over 5,000 hurricane-proof homes to be built across the island for displaced families.

In further response to the destruction caused by Hurricane Maria, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit affirmed the event an “international humanitarian emergency,” and declared to rebuild Dominica as the world’s first climate-resilient nation.

Also Read: Major Strides for Dominica as Citizenship by Investment Generates Over $1 Billion in Reserves

Following this, in March 2018, the Climate Resilience Execution Agency for Dominica (CREAD) was launched and funded by the Governments of the United Kingdom, Canada and Dominica. The nations have a four-year mandate to drive the country towards this goal by developing and implementing a full Climate Resilience and Recovery Plan (CRRP) entailing large, complex reconstruction efforts.

The CRRP should ideally reflect three main pillars of resilience, namely:

  1. Climate Resilient Systems that cover a wide range of systems and processes that must have the capacity for adjusting to, and absorbing the impacts of, climate change.
  2. Prudent Disaster Risk Management Systems that focus on minimising and managing the risks associated with climate-related disasters.
  3. Effective Disaster Response and Recovery, addressing the post-disaster phase, minimising disaster impacts and reducing the pain and the period of recovery.

The CRRP further develops these three pillars into six result areas for a climate-resilient Dominica:

  1. Strong Communities;
  2. Robust Economy;
  3. Well-planned and Durable Infrastructure;
  4. Enhanced Collective Consciousness;
  5. Strengthened Institutional Systems; and
  6. Protected and Sustainably Leveraged Natural and Other Unique Assets.

Based on these six result areas, the Government of Dominica is committed to achieving many of its Climate Resilience Targets by 2030 as a result of about 50 different on-going initiatives.