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Background and context[1]

As a region, the Eastern Caribbean Islands are highly vulnerable to hydro-meteorological hazards of which are being exacerbated by climate change, causing substantial damage and loss. Their developing economies rely heavily on sectors that are vulnerable to climate patterns[2] such as agriculture [and food security] (including forestry and fishing), water, health, energy and tourism. Despite the many differences among Caribbean nations, climate change perhaps poses the most serious and consistent threat to them all. They would be greatly affected by the ongoing rise in sea level, changes in rainfall patterns and temperatures, and increasing intensity of natural disasters[3].

In terms of addressing the threat of climate change to the Caribbean, the cost of inaction is high. For example, in 2017, Category 5 hurricanes Irma and Maria stormed through the Caribbean region, causing 96 deaths and cumulative damage of US$10.09 billion. Projections indicate that economic losses could total US$22 billion annually by 2050. This is roughly 10% of the current Caribbean economy, and those projections have recently been updated to project 20% loss [4]. In addition, climate change financing targeted at developing renewable energy sources could help the region reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and exposure to their price variability, with gains for climate change mitigation. Nevertheless, it is recognized that the impacts and responses to climate variability and change need to be considered within the context of other stressors and development challenges in the region, with adaptation actions firmly focused on building resilience overall.

The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission (OECSC) is firmly committed to assisting Member States, individually and collectively, in their efforts ‘to build climate-resilient, low-carbon economies’. This is achieved within the regional legal framework established under the St. George’s Declaration of Principles for Environmental Sustainability in the OECS and the Revised Treaty of Basseterre (2010)[5] (see Annex 1: Policy Framework Guiding Climate Change Action). To this end, the OECSC works with Member States and several development partners to design, support, and implement enabling frameworks, programmes and projects at the regional, national and local levels.  The OECS Region is going through a historic and important phase. On one hand, it has made progress across a host of Sustainable Development Goals[6], though on the other hand, progress has continually been hampered by the need to manage short-term, climate-related and global crises, which is often delaying the adoption of long-term commitments required to build a climate resilient future.

Experiences in the region to date suggest that in order to maintain the climate resiliency momentum achieved , it is important to take a regional approach to address the collective  challenges being faced that relate to the impacts of climate variability and change. With a specific focus on the Eastern Caribbean region, the CCASAP hereby seeks to:

  • Build an analytical base to systematize and share relevant climate change information, practices, tools and methods to support adaptation.
  • Provide technical expertise to support adaptation efforts as a “learning by doing” process rather than an end point.
  • Identify and fund creative and sustained transformation efforts that support climate-resilient development.

The OECSC’s Climate Change Work Programme is of direct relevance to all matters pertaining to climate change, which is led by the Climate and Disaster Resilience Unit (CDRU). Since the signing of the Paris Agreement, the OECSC has been aligning its climate change work programmes to capture gaps and barriers and formulate an overall cross-cutting Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (CCASAP) to achieve overall progress towards socio-environmental sustainability, while taking into account any tools and information networks available at the Regional level to draw from.

Trends in climate-related hazards in the OECS

One of the core deliverables of the OECS CCASAP Project was a technical report (see link in the menu on the right of this page) on recent and future trends in climate-related hazards in the OECS. This report was authored by CIMH Climatologist Dr. Van Meerbeeck in 2020 and was based on analyses performed at the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) under his lead. Among the main take-home messages from the report are:


The climate of the OECS region is projected to continue warming in the future, implying:

·         Increased heat stress as the local expression of global warming (high confidence).

·         Warmer oceans along with steadily rising sea levels, even if global warming is halted in the foreseeable future (high confidence).

In addition to the above, with recently observed and virtually certain future changes in climate conditions, some additional climate-related hazards are expected to change in the future with:

·         More frequent and more intense droughts (high confidence), as well as more frequent dry spells (medium confidence).

·         More intense and more frequent major hurricanes (i.e. categories 4 and 5) (medium confidence), accompanied by a strong increase in storm surge due to sea level rise and stronger winds.

·         Possible increases in flash floods producing extreme rainfall (low confidence), including from tropical cyclones producing up to 20% more rainfall (medium confidence), but also a reduction in the frequency of flash floods and long-term flooding (low confidence)

The report should be cited as:

Van Meerbeeck CJ: Climate Trends and Projections for the OECS Region. OECS Climate Change Adaptation Strategy & Action Plan – Technical Report Ref. 8 41 2412. Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States Commission,
https://www.oecs.org/climate-&-disaster-resilience/resources.html?task=document.viewdoc&id=5, pp. 80, 2020.

OECS CCASAP Country/Territorial analysis: Resilience to climate change at a glance

Another core deliverable of the CCASAP Project in which the CIMH played a lead role was the production of 9 country/territory climate risk profiles “Territorial/Country analysis: Resilience to climate change at a glance”. These were produced for Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Monserrat, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. These profiles combined the major findings of Van Meerbeeck (2020) disaggregated by country or territory, the country’s or territory’s socio-economic characteristics, the vulnerability of sectors and territories to climate risks and climate change priorities in terms of adaptation. The links to all 9 profiles are found in the menu on the right of this page.

Each profile should be cited as:

Van Meerbeeck CJ, Zermoglio F, Bonnin Roncerel A: OECS CCASAP Country/Territorial Analysis: Resilience to climate change at a glance – [insert name of territory/country]. Artelia and CIMH for the OECS Commission, [insert the number of pages] pp., 2020. [insert the URL/hyperlink to the document]

[1] Quoting: Zermoglio, Bonnin Roncerel, Clarke, Solana, Le Dissez, Thomas, McCue, Van Meerbeeck, and Nurse (2021 – under review) OECS Climate Change Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan (CCASAP).

[2] Source: Strengthening Climate Services in the Caribbean through the Sectoral Early Warning Information Systems Across Climate Timescales (EWISACTs) Regional Roadmap and Plan of Action (RPA) 2020-2030.

[3] Source: Van Meerbeeck (2020) Climate Trends and Projections for the OECS region. See link in the menu on the right of this page.

[4] http://costs_of_inaction.climateanalytics.org/index.html

[5] This Treaty established the OECS Economic Union which is providing the basis (Under article 24) for Environmental Sustainability policies and measures at the regional level.

[6] Regional knowledge management platform for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG Gateway), May 2020