Sound land use planning can help avoid construction in areas subject to climate-related erosion.
The Planning for Climate Adaptation Program is a significant effort to increase the resilience of communities in the Dominican Republic (DR) to the impacts of climate change by improving participatory land use planning. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded the four-year program to ICMA in 2015.
The Dominican Republic has been declared one of the ten countries in the world most vulnerable to climate change, largely because of its location in the hurricane belt. Storms during the hurricane season cause flooding, soil erosion, and landslides. Coastal cities—and the country’s tourism industry—face threats from a rise in sea level and the continued loss of coral reefs, mangroves, and wetlands that protect the beaches from storm surges.
In response to the country’s vulnerability, USAID formalized an Urban Resilience Climate Change project, known by its Spanish name, Ciudades Líderes en Iniciativas y Metas de Adaptación. The ICMA program, known as the Planning for Climate Adaptation Program, is designed to coordinate with other climate-related USAID initiatives in the DR.
To carry out the Planning for Climate Adaptation Program, ICMA has assembled the following team:
- The Technological Institute of Santo Domingo, 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
- ICF International, a firm known for its expertise in climate change
- Selected U.S. communities that can provide pro-bono technical assistance in integrating climate considerations into land use planning.
The program focuses initially on four DR municipalities, mainstreaming climate change into land use planning processes and developing models that can be sustained locally and replicated throughout the country over time. Key elements of the program are to
- Assess the planning and climate change needs and gaps in each municipality
- Tailor a capacity-building work plan for each municipality, based on the assessment
- Engage community-based organizations (CBOs) in communicating the impacts of climate change to vulnerable populations (women, LGBT, the disabled) and involving them in sustainable and inclusive planning processes
- Train personnel in municipal departments and the local NGOs in participatory planning and climate adaptation techniques and tools
- Institutionalize the participatory planning process in the municipalities and create clear written procedures and documentation that will enable local land use plans to be periodically updated and replicated elsewhere
- Develop a cadre of experts in planning and climate change
- Strengthen the capacity of FEDOMU in the regions where the initial municipalities are located so that they can assist in scaling up and replicating the methodologies developed through the program.