Towards a more resilient Caribbean after the 2017 hurricanes

Working and discussion papers
March 2018

Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017 caused widespread destruction across the Caribbean and an estimated $130 billion in losses (Munich Re, 2018). The countries and communities most affected will take years to recover. 

On 30 January 2018, ODI convened Caribbean decision-makers based in the UK, NGOs, donors and some of the world’s leading experts on recovery and reconstruction to discuss the policies and investments needed at the national, regional and international level to avoid future losses. 

Hurricanes are nothing new in the Caribbean: every year they cause, on average, $835 million in losses. What's more, the changing climate means we are likely to see more Category 4 and 5 hurricanes in the future (Knutson et al., 2015). Understanding the historical and cultural factors that lead to disaster is critical to identifying solutions. There is no ‘quick fix’ for building resilience, but disasters do create social pressure for change and an opportunity to learn lessons and modify policies and investments to consider future threats.

The roundtable discussions aimed to deepen understanding of how concepts of ‘building back better’ and ‘resilient recovery’ can be implemented by matching the challenges and priorities of Caribbean governments and community representatives with innovative solutions and recommendations based on the latest science, technical expertise and policy lessons.