On December 13, a Caribbean regional consultation hosted by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) was held in Aruba. The conference, titled “Climate and Security in the Caribbean Region: A Roadmap to Resilience,” brought together experts, practitioners and policymakers to discuss climate change and its effect on security across the Caribbean region. The Center for Climate and Security (CCS), the US consortium partner of the Planetary Security Initiative (PSI) that co-organized the event along with The Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Aruba Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, the Clingendael Institute and the Planetary Security Initiative (PSI), supported the event.
In particular, CCS’s Senior Research Fellow, Lieutenant Commander Oliver Leighton Barrett, US Navy (retired), a former advisor to U.S. Southern Command, was invited to deliver the Keynote address. The focus of Oliver’s address were key points made in a CCS-published Caribbean-focused policy brief in advance of the event (authored by CCS Senior Fellow for International Affairs, Shiloh Fetzek) centered on underlying security risks to Caribbean states that are likely to be exacerbated by climate change. Island states are overly-exposed to climate risks due to their geography, dependency on agricultural and tourism sectors, and in some cases, economic fragility and political instability.
The CCS brief outlined key ways that climate change may exacerbate security issues in the region, including economic contraction, illicit trafficking, trans-regional crime, high debt-GDP ratios, food/water insecurity as well as heavy migration streams emanating from an ongoing Venezuelan humanitarian crisis. Oliver emphasized a key recommendation of the CCS report – better regional and international security cooperation in disaster response scenarios that could provide a strong foundation for long-term climate change preparedness and resilience.
The outcomes of the event working group consultations informed a Regional Plan of Action which aims to foster climate resilience in the region. The plan (see page one and seven of CDEMA’s summary) included:
…strengthening regional coordination, improving capacity (including financial mechanisms) and enhancing knowledge on climate and security; advancing food and water security and renewable energy transition and advocating for stronger political support.
The Plan of Action will also feature in next year’s Planetary Security Conference, of which CCS is a co-host, which takes place in The Hague on 19 and 20 February, 2019, and focuses on several spotlight regions including the Caribbean. CCS looks forward to contributing to the Caribbean’s nascent but energetic effort to mitigate the security impacts of climate change in the region.