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New study shows rising sea levels put Caribbean coastal cities and towns in peril

By Marion Ali, Assistant Editor

Rising sea levels have placed some 4.2 million people in small islands in the Caribbean and Pacific states in flood-prone areas, according to the findings of a new study.

The research called: “A Blue Urban Agenda: Adapting to Climate Change in the Coastal Cities of Caribbean and Pacific Small Island Developing States, was commissioned by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). It reveals that in addition to coastal erosion, rising sea levels are expected to negatively impact economic output and employment.

It goes further to state that rising tides can also cause governments’ debt to increase. 

Michael Donovan, senior urban specialist at the IDB, who co-authored the study, warned that Caribbean and Pacific coastal cities are on the frontlines of climate change.

“It is critical to adapt and improve the resilience of cities in coastal zones, especially those experiencing rapid urbanization,” he added.

The study reviews aid and private sector flows totalling US $55.6 billion provided to Caribbean and Pacific nations over a 20-year period, ending in 2015. It found that increasing emphasis has recently been placed on comprehensive programs for strengthening coastal city resiliency.


There is a revelation that Caribbean and Pacific countries that implement adaptation strategies aimed at reducing vulnerability have placed emphasis on urban governance and institutional capacity building.

Several policy recommendations for making towns and cities more resilient to climate change were a part of the report. They include land reclamation, coastal planning, enforcing building codes, climate-proofing infrastructure, and mangrove reforestation.

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