The Climate Pains of the Kalinago

Even as Dominica aims to earn the distinction of being “the world’s first climate-resilient nation,” following the devastating hurricane season of 2017, the slogan appears increasingly elusive as key sectors, agriculture in particular, gear up for what appears to be a rough ride. Difficulties occur despite the relatively recent establishment of a Climate Resilience Execution Agency for Dominica (CREAD) and initiatives such as ‘Build Back Better’ which focused on more resilient infrastructure. The island more recently launched a new “brand identity” to promote greater international awareness of its value as an eco-tourism destination, even amidst fears, especially in the face of the emerging climate crisis, that insufficient resources may slow recent advances and sideline the longstanding value of domestic food production. Ahead of last Novembers UNFCCC Conference of Parties (COP26), Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerritt lamented the fact that while such an event “has been going on for a very long time for over 30 years … we have not seen any tangible actions on the part of the developed world. There is lots of money, but they’re not getting to us.” 

The country’s Citizen by Investment (CBI) programme is however providing a modest alternative.


Unanswered Questions Undermine Credibility

The Commonwealth of Dominica is one of five countries in the Eastern Caribbean that allows persons born outside of the state to obtain a passport for a one-time fee or real estate investment through its Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programme. The programme began in 1991 to support areas like tourism, manufacturing, low-cost housing, infrastructure, agriculture, and healthcare. The Caribbean Investigative Journalist Network (CIJN) found that Dominica is heavily dependent on the CBI programme and that more than half of the government’s projected growth in revenue for the fiscal year 2021/2022 is expected to be financed by the CBI. Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit in his latest budget address declared that CBI  will contribute 58% percent of Dominica’s capital budget for the Public Sector Investment Programme. The Public gets a glimpse of some of the CBI earnings during Dominica’s annual National Budget presentation. 

This table depicts the reported contributions for CBI’s Economic Diversification Fund (EDF) over the last five years:

CBI Total Yearly Revenue for the Period 2017-2022

YearCBI Revenue in USD2017-2018$148,146,7762018-2019$83,086,5172019-2020$67,538,9022020-2021$109,841,9092021-2022$171,612,697Figure 1.1 (This figure does not include monies collected under the real estate option of the CBI)

Between 2017 to 2022, the country collected more than USD$580M from CBI applications and investments from its Economic Diversification Fund – one of two options to gain citizenship via the programme.

Searching for the Sun on the Nature Island

Almost a decade after Dominica’s best and brightest recommended a diversified renewable energy plan, the island’s 75,000 residents are paying a high price for continued reliance on diesel-fueled generators to supply the electric grid. The current government has poured funds into a geothermal plant that would be capable of exporting electricity at a profit.  But the project has stalled over costs and concerns about safety and it’s impact on the environment. As a result, Dominica ranks as one of the countries whose people pay some of the highest energy rates in the World. Prominent environmentalist Atherton Martin reflected on the public record for making the switch to non-fossil fuels saying “We are where we are: not in a good place.”

Sources: World Factbook, U.S. Nat’l Renewable Energy Lab

Martin, Dominica’s former Minister of Agriculture, placed the blame squarely on the government for ignoring the detailed Low Carbon Climate Resilient Development Strategy of 2012.  That report was an in-depth study into the viability of renewable energy plants.  It even identified where they could be located.