It will be repeated until it is understood: climate change is a reality. In this context, Latin America has everything to lose and the Dominican Republic, regardless of its responsibility in the deterioration of the environment, is positioned as the second country with the highest risk. This time it is not said by a foreign source. It was confirmed by the Finance Minister himself, Jochi Vicente.
It seems that this institution does not have any important chips to play. However, in the country alone, it is estimated that – together – the rains from November 2016 to April 2017, together with hurricanes Irma and María, caused losses amounting to some RD$49,837.41 million, equivalent to US$1,044.37 million.
These figures represented 7.98% of public spending budgeted for 2017, and 1.5% of GDP in 2016. So natural disasters are costly for the State. So yes. Your involvement is significant. Together with the Ministries of Economy and Finance, they are responsible for, on the one hand, designing and applying the economic instruments that contribute to mitigating global warming, and on the other hand, adapting the public revenue and expenditure systems towards those purposes.
Fifty years ago, on average, the country was impacted by an event of this magnitude every two years. In the 1990s, it grew to almost an annual event. Starting in 2000, it increased to 2.6, although it decreased slightly to about two after 2010.
At the regional level, future projections are more somber. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) indicates that annual losses caused by climate change could reach US$22 billion by 2050, which represents approximately 10% of the Caribbean economy.
During the launch of a regional platform on climate change, Vicente emphasized that for the Dominican Government it is a priority to face climate change by promoting a true energy transition and minimizing the economic, social and environmental risks of atmospheric events.
As the minister said, certainly, unlike neighboring countries, Quisqueya has “run with the good fortune of coming out practically unscathed” from the latest climatic shocks, but it still remains in the path of hurricanes.
Given this scenario, that in the Dominican Republic a fifth of the population lives in poverty and the economy still shows considerable dependence on beach tourism as a source of job creation and foreign exchange, “places us even more in a situation of vulnerability in the face of the phenomena that climate change can unleash,” he said.
Taking measures, faced with this reality, becomes essential. In this sense, the incorporation of risk analysis in public investment processes serves to reduce disaster risk and adapt to climate change. These should include actions to reduce existing risk, as well as ensuring that any new development process does not create new risks.
As detailed in an IDB study, the existence of regulations that order a disaster risk analysis to be carried out in the pre-investment phase of the project cycle is in at least 50% of the 26 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. In the case of the Dominican Republic, it is established by the Technical Standards of the National Public Investment System, approved by Resolution No. 01-2010.
In turn, sustainable investments are where cutting-edge technology and the jobs of the future are found. A warmer planet means lower agricultural yields, can cause extensive damage to infrastructure, and increases the risk of both disease and death in Latin America and the Caribbean.
In short, the climate crisis has already reached us all. Although governments are taking measures to alleviate the damage caused by the pandemic, on the side of the climate crisis there is still much to be done. The IDB assures that finance ministries can and should have a much more relevant role. Losses from natural disasters in recent years have devastated tourism, agriculture, and many other productive activities.