Adapting to climate change at the national level in Caribbean small island developing state

Small island developing states (SIDS) are distinct from other developing countries: they are particularly and comparatively more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Efforts to understand national-level vulnerability in these countries are limited. This paper helps to fill this gap and has two main aims. First, it identifies trends in national-level climate change adaptation among SIDS in the Caribbean region. Second, it identifies the limits to adaptation at the national level in these countries. In applying a resilience lens, and using summative content analysis techniques and semi-structured interviews with 26 senior policy-makers, this paper finds that Caribbean SIDS are primarily adapting to changes in hurricane, rainfall, and drought patterns. It also finds that most adaptations are being undertaken in the coastal zone and the water and agriculture sectors, and that there are many factors limiting national-level adaptation. The most commonly reported limit is financing, though not all policy-makers agree that financing is a limit. These findings are important for national SIDS governments and international donors and agencies that will be better able to identify and fill gaps in their adaptation actions and financing. This paper’s findings also highlight the importance of depoliticising climate change and prioritising good governance, improving SIDS’ access to international adaptation financing, and making the road to a climate-resilient future by walking.