Beyond Climate Change Theory

Beyond climate change theory: What contributes to local-level adaptive capacity in Caribbean small island communities?

Primary Researcher: Jessica Jaja (M.A.)


caribbean villageThe Caribbean region is already facing the impacts of climate change, which include sea level rise, ocean acidification, changes in extreme weather events and reduced freshwater. Many challenges lie ahead, but actors and institutions at all scales are mobilizing in an attempt to adapt to a changing climate. Strategies are being designed, developed and implemented with the dual purpose of addressing climate change impacts and moving towards sustainable development.

The carbon-neutral desalination plant on the island of Bequia in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is one such example. In response to changing climate patterns challenging traditional rainwater harvesting techniques, the plant was inaugurated in 2012 to provide freshwater to the community of Paget Farm. The project combined efforts from all scales, including community members, local NGOs, the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines government, the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center and the Global Environment Facility.

Using the desalination plant in Bequia as a case study, Jessica’s research seeks to assess some of the social, institutional, political and economic factors that seem to contribute to local-level adaptive capacity. This will be accomplished through a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods, including semi-structured interviews, surveys and social network analyses. The goal of the project is to increase our understanding of the real-world interactions and dynamics that allow communities to adapt to climate change in a way that is effective, efficient, legitimate and equitable.