Sustainable management of environment and natural resources is essential for the long-term and
sustainable growth of key economic sectors, such as fisheries, forestry or tourism, across the Caribbean.
In addition to being important generators of GDP and beneficial to the human well-being overall, natural
resources also provide a range of ecosystem services that play a critical role in the Caribbean countries’
efforts to reduce disaster risks and adapt to mounting climate change risks.
The region is facing a number of challenges in this area, including the climate change impacts, limited
access to financing, and narrow fiscal space, among others. Such challenges are being exacerbated by the
unprecedented health, economic and social impacts of COVID-19 pandemic. However, with great
challenges come great opportunities, including to grow and shift the development pathway into a green
recovery, based on the richness of the natural resources and biodiversity that this region possesses.
Indeed, nature-based solutions (NBS) offer an opportunity to solve challenges at the local and national
level in an integrated way given their high potential for producing co-benefits and significant multiplier
effect. For example, restoring and replanting mangroves along the coast of a low lying country not only
provides coastal protection from storm surge, sea level rise and extreme weather events, but it also serves
as a sanctuary for marine flora and fauna, a carbon sink to mitigate climate change emissions, a habitat
for terrestrial species and a livelihood for coastal communities.
However, their potential in the region has not been utilized despite the countries having overall favorable
legal and institutional frameworks for mainstreaming resilience into the development agenda and
ensuring the uptake of NBS in support of it. Similar challenges exist in the domain of data resources and
availability with a pertaining challenge of bridging the gap between having the information and data
available and translating it into such information that can be applied to policy making and tangible actions
while also ensuring the data is maintained, improved, and updated regularly.
Recognizing unique national circumstances of the Caribbean countries, as well as varying levels of uptake
of NBSs for resilience, there are still some common threads that would be needed in this regard – ranging
from mangrove and reef restoration efforts to enhance policy and institutional coordination. At the same
time, there is a need to adopt multi-sectoral and innovative approaches for improving resilience, including
at the regional level.
Against this backdrop and in order to further examine this issue, this Background Note firsts examines the
extent of challenges that the region is facing, with a particular emphasis on the costal resilience. Second,
the Background Note further analyzes the role that nature-based solutions offer in terms of preserving
key ecosystem services, increasing resilience to natural disasters and reducing anticipated climate change
impacts. Drawing from the individual country profiles and information, which map existing policies and
measures that the countries are undertaking, the Background Note finally identifies gaps and provides
recommendations for further enhancements of existing policies and measures that can derive maximum
benefits while improving resilience across the board.
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