Mainstreaming Climate Change Adaptation into Land Use Planning in the Dominican Republic

Historic District of Santo Domingo

The escalating incidence and severity of climate change related events is increasingly affecting cities and their residents, particularly the urban poor. Rapidly growing cities are often overwhelmed by the process of providing basic services and can neglect the long-term impacts of climate change. Responses tend to be remedial when emergencies arise rather than part of a strategic approach to prevent, resist, accommodate, and recover from shocks. Given these changes and challenges, I2UD’s work has increasingly focused on building the capacity of local authorities to plan for and adapt to climate change. One of our most recent and dynamic projects is our work with the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) as a Resource Partner in the Planning for Climate Change Adaptation (CLIMA-Plan) program as part of the larger USAID-funded Dominican Republic Urban Resilience Climate Change Program.

The Dominican Republic is considered one of the ten most vulnerable countries to climate change, particularly due to its location in the hurricane belt. During the hurricane season, storms cause flooding, soil erosion, and landslides. Coastal cities and the country’s tourism industry face threats from rising sea levels and the continued loss of coral reefs, mangroves, and wetlands that protect the beaches from storm surges.

Stakeholder Mapping Session in Las Terrenas

The four year CLIMA–Plan program involves initially working with four municipalities (Santo Domingo National District, Santiago de los Caballeros, San Pedro de Macoris and Las Terrenas) to create a municipal-level land use planning process that incorporates climate change adaptation strategies and public input. The project will result in integrated land use and climate change adaptation plans for eight municipalities. The three key objectives of the project are to improve the technical and management capacity of municipal planners, incorporate climate change adaptation considerations into the municipal planning process, and support the scaling-up of climate resilient land use planning best practices to other municipalities in the Dominican Republic.

In October, Senior Research Affiliate, Oriol Monfort traveled to the Dominican Republic on a preliminary mission to meet with the local ICMA team, hold meetings and interviews with the project team and stakeholders to develop an understanding of the operational deployment of the program, and conduct site visits in Santo Domingo National District and the Municipality of Las Terrenas. As a Resource Partner in the Planning for Climate Change Adaptation Program, I2UD’s work will focus on:

  • Advising on methods on raising awareness and increasing community participation in the planning process;
  • Providing strategies for the engagement of the private sector in land use planning and climate change adaptation;
  • Facilitating an exchange between municipal officials in Boston and the Dominican Republic; and
  • Developing a case study on how a community based NGO in East Boston that is working with residents and the City of Boston to increase the neighborhood’s resiliency to potential climate events.