IFRC and Nature Conservancy equip Caribbean communities to combat climate crisis

IFRC and Nature Conservancy equip Caribbean communities to combat climate crisis
27 February 2024

By the Climate Centre

The Resilient Islands project for the Caribbean – a five-year initiative of the IFRC and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) support by the German government’s international climate initiative – officially ended with a closing ceremony and review in Panama City last week.

The project aimed to prepare over 3,000 people in the Dominican Republic, Grenada and Jamaica to adapt to the climate crisis by “leveraging coastal habitats to reduce risk [merging] cutting-edge conservation science with disaster preparedness,” an IFRC press release issued in Panama City and Geneva on Tuesday said.

The Resilient Islands collaboration “redefined community resilience by utilizing nature’s protective power against the climate crisis. This approach is critical in the Caribbean, where the proximity of 70 per cent of the population to the coast underscores their vulnerability.” 

In Grenada, for example, the project has designed a climate-smart fishing facility featuring lockers, rainwater harvesting, solar energy, a new jetty and coastal vegetation, making small-scale fishing safer and more sustainable.

Eddy Silva, The Nature Conservancy Project Manager, said: “The lessons learned from Resilient Islands will increase awareness of climate resilience and help scale up efforts at the local and national levels in all small island developing states across the Caribbean.

“At a time when weather-related hazards and rising ocean temperatures are becoming more extreme and destructive, this programme has demonstrated that mangroves, coral reefs, and reforestation can save lives and livelihoods.”

‘There is no resilience without localization’

The IFRC and TNC have shown that ecosystems should be managed and protected “through laws, policies, and climate-resilient development plans that promote science-based decision making, improve early-warning systems and anticipate climate-related disasters.” 

Resilient Islands enhanced Jamaica’s national vulnerability index by including ecosystems indicators, allowing agencies to monitor not only community vulnerability but also the capacity of habitats to protect people and livelihoods.

Martha Keays, IFRC Regional Director for the Americas, highlights the indispensable role of local actors: “One significant lesson learned by the Resilient Islands programme is that there is no resilience without localization.

“Nature-based solutions are community-based solutions, and local actors, including Red Cross volunteers, should be at the core of its design and implementation.

“We have also learned that change is more likely when complementary organizations work together. The alliance between IFRC and TNC is a model of the innovation, generosity and vision the world needs to address the climate crisis, arguably the greatest challenge of our time.” 

Community members and Red Cross volunteers after their clean-up operation at Grenada’s Telescope Beach in November 2021 – part of the Resilient Islands project led by Caribbean National Societies, the IFRC, and The Nature Conservancy. (Library photo: Grenada Red Cross via IFRC)