Climate Change, and the Links to Human Mobility Must be on the agenda for the Dominican Republic

Susanne Melde (IOM)
“More important than the discussions on the regularization plan of immigrants is the impact of climate change in the Dominican Republic,” said the then IOM Chief of Mission Cy Winter at the opening ceremony of a training of policymakers on 13 July 2015 in Santo Domingo.
The Caribbean island state is among the 10 most vulnerable countries to climate change in the world, according to the Germanwatch Climate Risk Index 2014 and 2015. This high exposure to natural disasters, such as hurricanes, floods and droughts as well as more gradual degradation of the environment, such as sea level rise and coastal and river erosion (Wooding and Morales, forthcoming) were the reasons the country was selected as a pilot country for a research project on the links between human mobility, the environment and climate change.
Despite the vulnerability to the effects of global warming and other climatic changes it is not yet making headlines as it should. “The public is not aware of how climate change is affecting the country. It should be a key topic in the country as it is not something that only concerns us from far away,” said one of the participants during the training workshop in July. The links to migration, in particular within the country, are even lesser known.
The Dominican Republic is first and foremost a country of emigration of Dominicans and accounts for important internal migration movements. According to the country’s National Statistics Office, almost one out of five persons (18.9%), in the cities and 12.4% of the population in the countryside, received money from a relative abroad in 2011. 
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