Natural disasters and water scarcity are key challenges for most of Central America and the Caribbean. These challenges will become even more pronounced as the climate changes. Weak resource and disaster risk management and land disputes pose additional security challenges for large parts of the region. Several countries of Central America and the Caribbean have limited adaptive capacities as they face political instability caused by high social inequality, crime, corruption, and intra-state conflicts.
Extreme weather events such as hurricanes cause flooding and devastation across the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, affecting Caribbean states and Central American shorelines.
In Central America, unsustainable natural resource management and an unequal distribution of resources, especially land and minerals, are a frequent source of conflicts, such as over copper and gold in Panama, or over land-use rights and habitat loss in Guatemala and El Salvador.
Climate change risks:
Hurricanes are likely to occur more frequently and with greater intensity, affecting large parts of the region.
Rising sea levels and the salinisation of crop land and drinking water will force parts of the coastal population to migrate or to look for income alternatives.
In the Caribbean, maritime resources and small islands are at risk. With sea levels rising and most islands being located in lower latitudes, storms and coastal erosion threaten the infrastructure and local settlements.
Socio-economic and socio-political challenges:
Some Central American and Caribbean countries suffer from political instability. The causes include exceptionally high inequality rates, high crime rates, corruption, and intra-state conflicts. These determinants hamper the adaptive capacities of the affected countries when it comes to resolving land-use conflicts, managing resources, etc.
Cooperation on environmental issues remains largely fragmented into subregions. Relevant institutions include the Sistema de la Integración Centroamericana (SICA) for Central America, the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and the Group of Highly Vulnerable Countries for the Caribbean, and various non-state actors engaged in regional dialogue. The Caribbean Community (Caricom) Secretariat has programmes to identify climate change risks and to promote food security.
Caribbean Community Secretariat (Caricom) 2011: Mainstreaming Adaptation to Climate (MACC) Project. Guyana: Caricom
Caribbean Community Secretariat (Caricom): Promoting Caricom/Cariforum Food Security. Caricom, FAO.
CNA 2009: Powering America’s Defense: Energy and the Risks to National Security. Report by the Military Advisory Board (MAB) of the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA).
Footitt, A. 2007: Climate Change Policies and Canada`s Oil Sand Resources: An Update and Appraisal of Canada`s New Regulatory Framework for Air Emissions. Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research.
IPCC 2007: Climate Change 2007: Fourth Assessment Report of the International Panel for Climate Change. Chapter 16, Small Islands. Geneva: IPCC
McLeman, R. 2011: Climate change, migration and critical international security considerations. Geneva: International Organization for Migration.
United Nations 2011: Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Canada Withdrawal
UNODC 2012: World Drug Report 2012 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.12.XI.1)
U.S. National Intelligence Council 2012: Global Water Security. Intelligence Community Assessment. Commissioned by the U.S. Department of State. Washington, DC.