Updated: January 14, 2018

For the past four months since Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated the Eastern Caribbean there have been much talk about climate change, building back better, becoming the first this and becoming the first that.  But, Caribbean people have heard this talk before.  It seems that Caribbean governments speak alot about climate change but do very little to put into practice, measures to achieve goals, even after they themselves have made proposals. So, in spite of a couple grandiose claims made by the Prime Minister of Dominica to become the first "Climate Resilient Nation in the world" and by CARICOM Leaders pronouncement to create the World's first "Climate-Smart Zone", such a level of resiliency is not likely to be achieved because of the leaders. Dominica's case is especially doubtful for the following reasons.  The Leader   1) has a history of short term thinking and gratification 2) has no record of Inclusiveness. 3) lacks a history of building partnerships 4) lacks ability to work with a wide range of stake holders.

Short Term Thinking

Many Leaders in the Caribbean are mired in short term thinking.  It seems they cannot think past the next election.  As soon as one election is over plans start for the next.  Consequently, an extraordinary amount of time is spent during the elected term trying to destroy the opposition;  the idea is  to get rid of their competition. There is too much effort spent on projects primarily focused on giving the ruling party the upper hand.  In so doing, much needed funds are spent on inconsequential projects that seldom benefit the country as a whole, thereby sidelining sustainable projects. How on earth is such thinking conducive to resiliency?

Short Term Gratification

Take Dominica for instance,  whose leader Roosevelt Skerrit,  wants to make the country climate resilient and has such a poor record of completing any long term project. His Administration cannot point to one substantial long term achievement, climate friendly or otherwise, that they have accomplished.   For example, In mid 2016 this government had  an opportunity to build a climate smart Hospital. It would probable have taken a few years to build if they had to start on a brand new site.  Instead this government chose the quick route by building the hospital on the ground of the existing hospital which since Hurricane Maria has been shown to be a  disaster; the fate of that project remains unclear.  How will this Administration set Dominica on the path to resiliency with such thinking? 

Lack of Inclusiveness

Because of its lofty goals for resiliency, Dominica is again referenced. For resiliency to work it must be inclusive.  It should include all stake holders; the private sector, public sector, parliamentarians, and NGOs.  However, the Skerrit-led Administration in Dominica has a problem with  inclusion. They have completely shut out the Opposition parliamentarians from Resiliency Plans. The top-down model is still being utilized, in which the Prime Minister has established the body, that will be developing and administering the resiliency plans in his Office. Why?
In addition, someone was chosen outside of the Country to head the Organization, instead of choosing a Chief Resilience Officer from the civil service. Such a locally sourced individual would be more familiar with country's strengths and weaknesses and would be better able to plan a resilience strategy going forward.

Partnership Building

For Dominica to become the first Climate resilient Nation in the world its leaders must build partnerships in order to be able to develop and implement plans.  The current Administration does not know how to do that because of their unending, irrational fear of seeming to share power and their pathological inability to attribute credit to others. The Labor Administration has a practice of doing things alone, even if a public-private partnership would yield a superior result. This administration is extremely reluctant to consult with partners in order to foster shared ownership of the the decision making and so Dominica has a history of  "do over projects" and wasted money.  This lack of integration is bound to stymie efforts of Dominica on the road to resiliency.

Dominica, and the Caribbean by extension, is expecting International Organizations to trust them with billions of dollars. They have promised to undertake some tremendous goals. Are the current Leaders capable of such thinking?  In order to do so, these leaders must develop a new mindset and put their country ahead of themselves.  Many doubt that such insecure and selfish leaders are able to do that.