Although sustainability is a global issue, few regions need protecting quite like the Caribbean. Not only is the region more vulnerable than most to human activity and climate change — particularly considering its fragile ecosystems like coral reefs and coastal mangrove forests — but the Caribbean is also uniquely susceptible to being hit by hurricanes.

All of the region’s 28 sovereign states and dependent territories have put measures in place to this end, but there’s always more that can be done. Here on the Nature Island of the Caribbean, we have taken a number of unique steps to become more sustainable, so much so that we are set to become the world’s first climate-resilient nation. Here are some of the main ways other Caribbean countries can learn from our efforts.

Embrace ecotourism

Ecotourism initiatives usually involve cutting consumption, investing in renewable energy and maintaining biodiversity, with the ultimate aim of reducing the carbon footprint of tourism. With more consumers looking to become more sustainable and socially responsible, the global market for ecotourism is growing rapidly. By visiting destinations that promote eco-friendly initiatives, tourists can reduce the negative impacts of their trips, help fund improvements to green infrastructure, and support local economies.

Here in Dominica, a whole host of measures have been implemented in recent years to bolster our tourism industry’s green credentials. For instance, the Government of Dominica has promoted ecotourism activities like coastal surveys, walking tours and gardening, which enable tourists to explore the country in a sustainable manner.

A large number of eco-resorts have also been built, re-built or expanded in recent years following Hurricane Maria. These include Rosalie Bay Resort, Sanctuary Rainforest Eco Resort & Spa, and Secret Bay. These properties are built sustainably with many suites using solar power for its energy. Take the Secret Bay Hotel, for example, where all of its villas are made of sustainably sourced tropical hardwood. The hotel also has a Zero Waste policy by recycling, reusing and composting food waste, and using eco-friendly cutlery, crockery and glassware.

Move towards renewable energy

The Caribbean is slacking when it comes to moving towards renewable energy — for example, just 10% of energy in the Eastern Caribbean comes from renewable sources. On the other hand, Dominica is pushing ahead with a range of initiatives to promote the use of renewable energy in the country, and aims to be solely dependent on renewable energy by 2030.

Perhaps the best example of this is the country’s building of a geothermal power plant, which is set to be in use by the end of 2023. This move is forecasted to double the amount of renewable energy Dominica uses, as well as cutting existing energy costs and giving the country the potential to export it to other Caribbean countries. It will also reduce Dominica’s annual CO2 emissions by more than 38,000 tons.

Meanwhile, Dominica is moving towards solar power too. It’s a member of the International Solar Alliance, which aims to make solar energy available to all, while six of the island’s health centres have been fitted with solar panels and battery storage systems. This enables them to run off-grid, something that is particularly practical in light of the risk of future hurricanes.

Ban single-use plastic

Single-use plastic is harmful for so many reasons. Not only does the creation of these plastics emit massive amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere, but they can’t be re-used and don’t break down once discarded. As a result, single-use plastic turns into microplastics that often end up in the bodies of wildlife and humans, leading to various health issues, from cancer to punctured organs.

Caribbean landscapes, particularly beaches, are littered with these plastics. A World Bank study from 2019 found that there were as many as 200,000 pieces of plastic per square kilometre in the north eastern Caribbean alone, with 35% of the plastic items collected on beaches single-use. However, just seven Caribbean countries have committed to banning single-use plastic.

Back in 2019, Dominica was one of the first nations to do just this, outlawing common plastics, single-use Styrofoam cups and food containers. There has also been 0% import duty on authenticated biodegradable products and reusable shopping bags since December 2018, while Dominica has incentivised citizens to stop using plastic bags through the Go Green Dominica initiative. This involves giving every household reusable jute and cotton bags to use instead.

Invest in wildlife conservation

The Caribbean is home to an array of species, but many of these are critically endangered. In fact, alongside Latin America, the region has seen the world’s steepest decline in average wildlife population size, with a 94% drop in 48 years. As such, wildlife conservation is a key step to sustainability that more Caribbean countries need to take.

Dominica has a proud history of protecting its wildlife. For instance, although the mountain chicken — a frog native to the country — was for a long time seen as a national delicacy, it is now under conservation because of a fungal infection that rendered the species critically endangered. The Mountain Chicken Recovery Programme was set up to help increase the number of mountain chickens, with a conservation breeding facility and a molecular diagnostics laboratory.

Furthermore, there have been efforts to protect Dominica’s population of sperm whales too, as demonstrated by the Dominica Sperm Whale Project (DSWP). The project has studied and continues to study sperm whales over multiple years to unearth more information about the relationships and communication between them. The overall goal of this project is to create a marine protected area with legal protections for the whales.

Final thoughts

From committing to ecotourism to investing in wildlife conservation, Dominica is leading the way when it comes to sustainability in the Caribbean. By following our lead, the region as a whole can forge a much more sustainable future.

Many of these efforts are funded by Dominica’s citizenship by investment programme, which enables investors from around the world to gain Dominica citizenship in exchange for investment in the country. Applicants can decide to either invest in real estate or the Economic Diversification Fund, both of which help fund sustainable development. For example, you can contribute to eco-friendly real estate projects like Secret Bay or Sanctuary Rainforest Eco Resort and Spa, or invest in the Economic Diversification Fund, which has funded initiatives such as the geothermal plant.

To learn more about Dominica’s citizenship by investment programme or make an enquiry about investing in it, please don’t hesitate to contact us at your nearest convenience.