WASHINGTON, April 28, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Dominican Republic (pop. 10.4 million) ranks as one of ten countries in the world that is most vulnerable to climate change. Because of its location and climate-related changes, the country routinely experiences environmental problems such as flooding, droughts, extreme soil erosion, water shortages, and deforestation.
In response to the country's vulnerability, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) formalized an Urban Resilience Climate Change project (known by its Spanish name, Ciudades Líderes en Iniciativas y Metas de Adaptación), which is a significant effort under the umbrella of President Obama's Global Climate Change Initiative, to increase the resilience of communities in the Dominican Republic to the impacts of climate change by improving community participation in land use planning. USAID/Dominican Republic awarded one of several programs, the Planning for Climate Adaptation Program, to ICMA as the prime implementer earlier this year.
"The Planning for Climate Adaptation Program will contribute to increasing the resilience of Dominican municipalities by working with municipal officials, community-based organizations, private sector, and all relevant stakeholders in mainstreaming climate change considerations into participatory urban planning," says Indhira de Jesús, project director. "ICMA will facilitate a number of new and innovative processes to accomplish this goal. Our understanding of the impact of climate change in the Domican Republic remains in the realm of academics and scientists, and it needs to be translated into actionable criteria that can in turn be incorporated into land use plans and regulations."
To carry out the Planning for Climate Adaptation Program, ICMA has assembled a team of organizations with specialized expertise in supporting rapidly growing cities in managing climate risk. They include
- The Technological Institute of Santo Domingo (INTEC), a leader in training and research on municipal planning and climate change.
- The Dominican Federation of Municipalities (FEDOMU), which has a history of working with municipalities in the country. ICMA currently works with FEDOMU under a USAID-funded Regional Cooperative Agreement to support the latter organization's participation in the Network of Municipal Associations for Crime and Violence Prevention.
- ICF International, a firm known for its expertise in climate change, a team of climate scientists, policy analysts, economists, and planners—among others—who develop strategies and technical tools to help communities cope with climate impacts and uncertainty.
- Selected U.S. communities that can provide pro-bono technical assistance in integrating climate considerations into land use planning.
Additionally, the ICMA team's Dominican-based key personnel understand the dynamics of local government in the Dominican Republic. According to de Jesús:
"ICMA's team comprises some of the country's leading experts in municipal planning, community participation and adaptation to climate change, complemented by strong national and international partners. A combination ideally suited to deliver innovative and sustainable ways to increase community resilience to climate change through municipal planning and governance."
The Planning for Climate Adaptation Program will focus initially in the Santo Domingo National District, Santiago, and the two coastal cities of San Pedro de Macoris and Las Terrenas, as well as the watersheds that contain them—a region that is home to roughly 20 percent of the country's population.
The Planning for Climate Adaptation Project will develop models that can be sustained locally and replicated throughout the country over time. For more information, visit ICMA's Dominican Republic country page or the Planning for Climate Adaptation Project page.
ICMA, the International City/County Management Association, advances professional local government worldwide. The organization's mission is to create excellence in local governance by developing and fostering professional management to build sustainable communities that improve people's lives. ICMA provides member support; publications; data and information; peer and results-oriented assistance; and training and professional development to 9,500 appointed city, town, and county leaders and other individuals and organizations throughout the world. The management decisions made by ICMA's members affect millions of individuals living in thousands of communities throughout the world, from small villages and towns to large metropolitan areas.