Building Coastal Resilience in Cuba through Natural Adaptation Solutions

At a glance

Since 2007, the Cuban scientists made a preliminary assessment of the impacts of climate change on the archipelago. This analysis showed Cuba's high level of vulnerability to potential impacts, especially those related to coastal threats (sea level rise-SLR, coastal erosion, seawater intrusion into coastal aquifers) and extended droughts. As of 2005, based on experiences of Cuba in the face of disasters caused by intense hurricanes, the Government of Cuba intensified these climate investigations of hazards, vulnerability and risks on coastal communities. The Cuba coastline, particularly the central north and south portion, were found to be extremely vulnerable to current and projected climate change threats. Furthermore, in the Cuba’s National Plan for climate change (Tarea Vida), the climate priorities identified focus on coastal communities and ecosystems. Nationwide, a total of 119 coastal human settlements have been identified at extreme risk from a range of CC-related impacts, under the projected scenario for 2050, and 21 are predicted to disappear by the year 2100. Damage to coastal settlements will be particularly severe on women, who are the main responsible for relocation in order to ensure adequate living conditions for the family. Additionally, the passage of hurricane Irma (category 4-5 on the Saffir Simpson scale) in September 2017 along the northern coast of Cuba, which caused significant damage to numerous coastal communities, particularly houses and its respective economic base (fishing, tourism, agriculture), stressed the urgent need to increase the resilience and adaptation capacity of these coastal communities to climate change impacts (e.g. SLR) and extreme hydro-meteorological events. This Action aims at addressing this technical, strategic and adaptation needs to increase coastal resilience posed by current and future climate threats in Cuba. The general objective is to strengthen and mainstream disaster risk reduction and climate change resilience into social and economic plans within sectors and governments in coastal vulnerable municipalities of Cuba. This action aims at achieving such goal through a nature-based solution for adaptation approach, as these solutions are often more cost-effective in the long term than purely technical approaches and can produce important additional socio-economic benefits for the environment, citizens, and the local economy. The intervention areas of this Action are within what is known as the Sabana-Camagüey Archipelago. This is the largest cays system in the Greater Caribbean, and they are extreme vulnerable to climate change due to the projected high sea level rise (> 3m) along this coastline, increased coastal erosion, and increased exposure to hurricanes (4 events/ year). This Action is relevant for the Agenda 2030 and it contributes to the progressive achievement of SDG no. 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts; Secondary SDGs: SDG 1 - end poverty; SDG 2 – zero hunger; SDG 3 – Good health and wellbeing; SDG 5 – gender equality; SDG 6- Clean water and sanitation; SDG 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities; SDG 14 -life below water; SDG 15-Life on land. The Action takes into account the Cuba position to the UNFCCC for increased funds for climate change adaptation to reflect their specific characteristics and extreme vulnerability, and to address the imbalance between mitigation and adaptation funding.

Duration
2019-01-01 to 2023-12-31
Status
Active programmes
Region
Caribbean
Country
Cuba
Total budget
5,00 M€
Sector(s)
GCCA priority area(s)
Countries

The Republic of Cuba is the largest Caribbean island with a population of over 11.38 million inhabitants. Cuba´s nickel reserves are estimated at 5.5 million metric tons (the 5th largest in the world). The island accounts also for 8 % of the world’s cobalt production.3 The export of these commodities, of sugar and its by-products like rum, of tobacco and cigars as well as the increasing tourism are Cuba's main sources of the urgently needed foreign currencies. Despite its current economic and social challenges, Cuba ranked 67th out of 188 countries in the global 2014 Human Development Index (HDI) ranking. Cuba's HDI is given with 0.769, the average HDI in the LAC region is 0.748. The GNI per capita is USD 7,301 per capita, while it is USD 14,242 per capita in the LAC region2.

Cuba is a country with a low demographic growth, low levels of fertility and mortality (especially infant mortality: 4.2 % per 1,000 births), high life expectancy (79.4 years, LAC region: 75 years), a consequently aging population (18 % aged 60 and over) and a negative external migration balance. Under President Raúl Castro Ruz (since 2008), Cuba is undergoing a slow, but constant transformation process, seeking to uphold its political system and the achievements of the revolution, such as universal free healthcare and education. Cuba has the worldwide highest ratio of medical doctors per patients, has with 97 % one of the highest rate of alphabets worldwide and the mean time of schooling is high with 11.5 years compared to an average of 8.2 years in the LAC region.3

 

Cuba is a Party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) (since 1994), the Kyoto Protocol (2002), the Doha Amendment (2017) and the Paris Agreement (January 2017). At national level, Cuba has a long-standing involvement on climate science and policies. Since 2007, the Cuban scientists made a preliminary assessment of the ongoing impacts of climate change on the archipelago. This analysis showed Cuba's high level of vulnerability to potential impacts, especially those related to coastal threats (Sea Level Rise-SLR, coastal erosion, seawater intrusion into coastal aquifers) and extended droughts. As of 2005, and as a consequence of analyzes based on experiences of Cuba in the face of disasters caused by intense hurricanes, the Government of Cuba intensified the investigations and the studies of Hazard, Vulnerability and Risk of Disasters on coastal communities. The Cuba coastline, particularly the central north and south portion, were found to be extremely vulnerable to current and projected climate change threats. In 2015, under the coordination of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment (CITMA), a process begun to update the documents already approved by the Council of Ministers in order to tackle climate change. The same year, Cuba appointed the Deputy Minister of CITMA as National Designated Authority.

 

The first warning map on the hazard and vulnerabilities to sea level rise for Cuba was made in 2007. It resulted in a set of research projects that integrated what is known as the Macro­-project “Hazards and coastal vulnerability for the years 2050-2100” under which has been compiled, processed and produced a large volume of information, and a variety of maps and reports on the status and prospects of Cuban archipelago facing climate change future impact, with special attention to mean SLR and extreme hydro meteorological events. 

 

In the Cuba’s National Plan for climate change (Tarea Vida), thematic climate priorities areas have been defined with a particular focus on coastal communities and ecosystems. Nationwide, a total of 119 coastal human settlements have been identified as at extreme risk from a range of Climate Change (CC)-related impacts, under the projected scenario for 2050, and 21 are predicted to disappear by the year 2100. The most extreme climate change and SLR scenario would result in the flooding of up to 5,696 km2, affecting more than 1 million people living in more than 220 settlements. Damage to coastal settlements will be particularly severe on women, who are the main responsible for relocation in order to ensure adequate living conditions for the family. Additionally, the passage of hurricane Irma (category 4-5 on the Saffir Simpson scale) in September 2017 along the northern coast of Cuba, which caused significant physical and economic damages to numerous coastal communities, particularly houses and its respective livelihoods (i.e. fishing, tourism, agriculture), highlighting the need of increasing resilience and adaptation capacity of these coastal communities to local climate change impacts (i.e. SLR) and extreme hydro-meteorological events. These extreme events in Cuba during the current hurricane season have been characterized by constant, strong winds and higher rainfall, slow movement of translation over a long period of time, significantly impacting ecosystems’ functioning not yet adapted to this new type of natural phenomena. 

 

This Action aims at addressing this technical, strategic and adaptation needs to increase coastal resilience posed by current and future climate threats in Cuba. The general objective is to strengthen and mainstream disaster risk reduction and climate change resilience into social and economic plans within sectors and governments in coastal vulnerable municipalities of Cuba. This action aims at achieving such goal through a nature-based solution for adaptation approach, as these solutions are often more cost-effective in the long term than purely technical approaches and can produce important additional socio-economic benefits for the environment, citizens, and the local economy.

GCCA's action programme
Geographical scope
Initial GCCA/GCCA+ contribution
5,000,000.00 €

Specific objective

Three specific objectives (SO) of this Action have also been identified: SO1. To improve the local response to disasters and avoid the creation of new vulnerabilities in socio- economic development and post-disaster reconstruction; SO2. To increase the resilience of ecosystems and coastal communities to the impacts of climate change, with emphasis on sea level rise (SLR) and extreme hydro-meteorological events; SO3. To adapt local socio-economic development planning to a changing climate.


Outputs

The Action will achieve three outputs: Output 1: Planning and policy capacities strengthened to address disaster risks at community level and integrated in local development planning; Output 2: Coastal settlements resilience strengthened by implementing climate change adaptation strategies in key development sectors, and governments, at national, local and community levels; Output 3:  Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation mainstreamed and integrated in local development planning.


Activities

The programme has three closely linked outputs, which will ensure an integrated approach to delivery. The more detailed intervention logic is in the logical framework (Appendix 1). During the inception phase, the logical frameworks will be further revised, and final targets updated for each selection sites country and they will be nested within the main logical framework. The three outputs have the following associated results:

Output 1: Planning and policy capacities strengthened to address disaster risks at community level and integrated in local development planning. 

1.1    Increased availability of information about SLR and flood-related hazards and risks in the target coastal communities, by conducting DRR Vulnerability Assessments at community level and implemented Municipal multi-hazard Early Warning Systems and community Early Warning Points. 

1.2    DRR and CCA information use and application strengthened for Centers for Municipal Risk Reduction (CGRD). 
1.3    Sectoral and territorial DRR plans strengthened.
1.4 Improved DRR and CCA capacities for key government and community actors.


Output 2: Coastal settlements resilience strengthened by implementing climate change adaptation strategies in key development sectors, and governments, at national, local and community levels.

2.1 Rehabilitated ecosystem services of coastal wetlands.

2.2 Strengthened capacities of governments and key local sectors (water, agriculture, environment, fisheries, land planning, civil defense), for the inclusion of adaptation options (with emphasis on Nature Based Solutions for Adaptations), in their development plans. 

2.3. Technological transfer of NbA for key development sectors introduced and implemented at different scales (ecosystems, neighborhoods and buildings), as options for CCA. 

2.4. Developed of CCA policies, programs, plans and projects, at the local level to strengthen coastal resilience across various development sectors. 
Output 3:  Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation mainstreamed and integrated in local development planning.

3.1 NbA and Integrated Coastal Zonal Management (ICZM) strategies, developed through participatory process, and implemented in selected vulnerable coastal areas.

3.2 Increased awareness and ownership of climate risk reduction processes (monitoring, assessment, planning and implementation).

3.3 Incorporated demographic, human mobility and hazard perception trends associated with the impacts of climate change and extreme hydro-meteorological events in the coastal zone, into local development planning 

3.4 Systematization of DRR and CCA integration experience into local development plans and elaborated recommendations for scaling up in policies, programs, plans and projects, at the national level.