How Bankable Climate Projects Empower Local Communities in the Dominican Republic
At the request of the government of the Dominican Republic, the Global Water Partnership-Caribbean (GWP-C), supported the government in implementing a series of activities to inform the country’s updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in December of 2020.
One of the Dominican Republic government’s key objectives was to enhance their NDC ambition. In response, GWP-C provided support from July 2020 to July 2021 through the NDC Partnership’s Climate Action Enhancement Package (CAEP) and funding from its Technical Assistance Fund. This collaboration started with guidance from the NDC Partnership’s Focal Point in the Dominican Republic’s National Council for Climate Change and Clean Development Mechanism with assistance from the NDC Partnership Support Unit.
To assist the government in enhancing their NDC, GWP-C helped develop a bankable investment portfolio for financing climate change projects in five basins in the Dominican Republic: Bajo Yaque del Norte, Tocíno-Artibonito, Hoya Lago Enriquillo, Arroyo Tábara, and Planicie Costera Oriental (pictured below).
To conduct a baseline assessment and collect data for these projects, GWP-C hired consultants to interview local stakeholders and determine how projects could best support local communities in mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change. However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, consultants were initially prevented from conducting in-person consultations and had to rely instead on virtual and online meetings. This proved to be a key challenge in the data-collection process, as many local stakeholders lack stable internet access. In addition, gathering contact information for interviews and connecting with stakeholders in rural areas proved to be a significant barrier to outreach. Still, GWP-C's consultants were able to connect with a sufficiently diverse group of local stakeholders, non-governmental organizations, and civil-society organizations, which provided invaluable information to the government of the Dominican Republic.
In particular, one interview with a representative from the National Confederation of Rural Women provided insight into how local people and livelihoods are affected by changes in seasonality associated with climate change. “We can no longer distinguish which is the rainy season and which is the dry season,” says Benita Ferrer. “This implies that it is impossible to produce [crops] as much as before. In the past, the rain and the weather were stable. Not anymore, now there is a drought, and when you do not expect rain, there is incontrollable heavy rain." Informed by considering this type of input, GWP-C provided technical guidance for projects aimed at improving water quality and supply, and projects addressing gender and socioeconomic challenges that leverage the potential of women as changemakers. For instance, a bankable project in Bajo Yaque del Norte proposes an investment in climate-resilient infrastructure (e.g., rehabilitating 100km of irrigation systems), establishing early warning systems, and diversifying agricultural practices by supporting small and medium local producers and products that enhance the participation of women and youth in the productive cycle.
GWP-C's consultants used the feedback from their semi-structured interviews and focus groups to gain a better understanding of what communities identified as priorities, objectives, and needs throughout the region. GWP-C then compiled these bilateral interviews into a resource for the development of both the initial assessment and the final portfolio for financing climate change projects in the region. While the scope of investment projects was influenced by local stakeholders and conversations, the consultants also conducted a literature review to identify other projects in the area, and consulted with other key actors, including the national and local government.
All of the final projects selected integrate a basin-scale approach, including a framework for planning and developing interventions aimed at protecting and restoring water quality and quantity in the region. Additionally, these projects include a short to mid-term financial strategy aimed at maximising resource efficiency, covered areas, and beneficiary populations. These projects also cover a wide range of issues facing local communities in the Dominican Republic, such as water-resources management, livelihoods diversification, resilient agriculture, processing schemes, supply chains, and food security.
Consultants cited several lessons that can benefit similar efforts to engage local stakeholders and organizations to develop projects that support communities in climate mitigation and adaptation efforts in other countries, including:
Identifying local focal points from the onset that are assigned to each government actor and other stakeholders to allow for a higher level of involvement and to accelerate the review process.
Identifying and mapping key actors to provide information on current or past projects for intervention mechanisms at the local level and encourage sharing lessons and ideas for the formulation of new projects.
Visiting the territory in-person and using on-the-ground teams to obtain greater knowledge of the needs and perspectives of the local communities impacted by these projects, and to facilitate wider participation in the consultation process (with respect to COVID-19 restrictions on travel and in-person gatherings),
Linking consultations with local communities to the cultural and social traditions of the target population. For example, stakeholders should encourage new techniques in small-scale projects that eliminate or reduce practices that degrade natural resources, and avoid initiatives such as greenhouses, fish-farming projects, and others, where there is no tradition or potential market.
As a result of this work, the emerging project portfolio provides a robust basis for delivering on the increased ambition of Dominican Republic’s updated NDC. By developing a range of bankable projects focusing on NDC national priority sectors with local communities, GWP support through CAEP helped build investment-ready vehicles to mobilize international climate finance with strong country ownership, specifically aiming to materialize more ambitious NDC sectorial commitments around water and food security as well as ecosystems, biodiversity, and forests. This provides not only a solid way forward for resource mobilization but a more granular, inclusive, and actionable proposal for NDC implementation with the potential to significantly improve socio-economic conditions of rural communities while simultaneously increasing their resilience to climate change impacts. To learn more about this work or the climate projects that were developed, please see the related links below.
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