Non-economic Loss and Damage: Lessons From Displacement in the Caribbean

Abstract

Climate-induced displacement has direct implications for non-economic loss and damage, including threats to health and wellbeing and loss of culture and agency. Displacement due to extreme events is particularly challenging for small island developing states (SIDS) given their high exposure and vulnerability to tropical cyclones. Devastating hurricanes in the Caribbean in 2017 exposed non-economic loss and damage associated with prolonged displacement of entire island populations due to complete destruction of communities. Such was the case in Ragged Island, The Bahamas, where the entire population was displaced. This study assesses national policies, plans, legislation and reports from The Bahamas to determine non-economic loss and damage experienced by displaced residents and how the policy landscape addresses these issues. We find that non-economic loss and damage was acknowledged neither by the policy landscape nor by Government actions, but that there were likely health impacts and disruptions to sense of place and connection to the island. Failure to consider non-economic loss and damage also contributed to assessments that costs of rebuilding outweighed benefits. While existing literature has acknowledged policy deficiencies on loss and damage at the national level in SIDS, this study illustrates real-world impacts of these deficiencies. The case of Ragged Island highlights the need for SIDS to take the lead in developing national responses to loss and damage as they are currently experiencing severe impacts, which are intensified by the lack of clear policies, plans or strategies.

Citation

Adelle Thomas & Lisa Benjamin (2020) Non-economic loss and damage: lessons from displacement in the Caribbean, Climate Policy, 20:6, 715-728, DOI: 10.1080/14693062.2019.1640105

Author(s)

Adelle Thomas and Lisa Benjamin

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