i. Climate change context
The Dominican Republic is considered highly vulnerable to climate change, with storms, floods, and droughts being particularly problematic. According to the World Bank, 10 hurricanes have hit the country in the last 50 years, and studies predict that the frequency and intensity of these storms will increase in the future. The sectors most affected by climate change are the agriculture, tourism, and fishing industries.
According to the National Policy of Climate Change (2016), the Dominican Republic emits less than 0.1% of global greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Global Carbon Atlas, the country had emissions of 2.5 tCO2 per person in 2019. The country’s primary polluting industries include energy, agriculture, waste, and industrial processes.
The Dominican Republic is a United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Non-Annex I (or non-industrialized) country. It ratified the Kyoto Protocol in 2002 and the Paris Agreement in 2017. The country accepted the Doha Amendment in 2016.
ii) Relevant government agencies
The central organization responsible for the Dominican Republic’s climate change actions is the National Council for Climate Change and Clean Development Mechanisms (CNCCMDL).The National Council is responsible for formulating policies to prevent and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, as well as for promoting the development of programs, projects, and strategies for climate action. It is the main body to ensure compliance with climate change commitments made before the UNFCCC. The Council is chaired by the Republic's President and is supported by different ministries, as well as private and public organizations. The Council also houses the UNFCCC Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) Focal Point.
Law No.64-00 (2000) established the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources as the governing body for managing the country’s environment, ecosystems, and natural resources. The Ministry’s responsibilities include designing environmental education programs. Housed under the Vice-Ministry of Environmental Management under the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, the mandate of the Directorate of Climate Change is to promote a low-carbon society that is adapted to the adverse effects of climate change. The Directorate measures the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, as well as its mitigation and adaptation efforts. The Directorate also promotes education, training, and public awareness programs related to climate change. The Directorate includes the Greenhouse Gas Monitoring Department, the Climate Change Mitigation Department, and the Department of Adaptation to Climate Change. The Department of Adaptation to Climate Change in particular aims to promote environmental education on the causes and consequences of climate change, with a focus on involving the country’s citizens, in collaboration with the Directorates of Environmental Education and Disclosure, and Social Participation.
The Ministry of Agriculture launches contingency plans every year to inform people about possible climate change events as well as how to prevent them and act in time to minimize negative impacts.
The National Meteorological Office (ONAMET) oversees meteorological observations in the Dominican Republic. It is committed to keeping the country’s citizens informed and continuously communicates with different interest groups in relation to prevention, mitigation, and quick responses to climate events.
The Institute of Environmental Law of the Dominican Republic (IDARD) is a non-governmental organization established in 2003 that promotes environmental education and the implementation of sound environmental practices. With government support, the Institute has set up different education and training projects such as Eco-Schools, which empowers students to act on issues like sustainability, recycling, and climate change.
Education and communication
The Dominican Republic’s Ministry of Education supports the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources in developing environmental education programs. The Ministry of Education also works to mainstream environmental content across schooling levels and teacher training, which is demonstrated across the Dominican Republic’s educational plans.
The Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology (MESCyT) is responsible for higher education in the Dominican Republic. It aims to train professionals in all areas to contribute to sustainable development, protection, and improvement of the environment, as established by Law No.139-01 (2013).
The Ministry of Economy, Planning, and Development (MEPyD) creates the Dominican Republic’s national development plans. It supports other entities and programs that work on climate change by integrating sustainable development guidelines into national processes. It also oversees the country's macroeconomic policies.
iii) Relevant laws, policies, and plans
The Dominican Republic has enhanced its legal framework for climate change in recent years. The country’s Political Constitution requires that climate change be incorporated into national plans and legal frameworks, including in their “formulation and execution, by the law of the land use plan that ensures the efficient and sustainable use of Nation’s natural resources is a priority of the State, in accordance with the need to adapt to climate change” (2015;Article 194).
Law No.64-00, better known as the General Law on Environment and Natural Resources, was established in 2000 to protect, improve, and restore the environment. Chapter VII, ‘Environmental Education and Outreach,’ addresses the integration of environmental curricula at all formal and informal education levels, including higher education.
In 2008, Decree Nº 601-08 established the National Council for Climate Change and Clean Development Mechanism (CNCCMDL).
In 2011, the Dominican Republic launched the Economic Plan Compatible with Climate Change (DECCC), taking the lead in the Caribbean region to plan for decreased greenhouse emissions and adapt economic programs and policies to be more environmentally friendly.
The National Development Strategy 2030, released in 2012, mandates national adaptation to climate change and establishes a legal basis for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The Strategy demonstrates the country’s desire to distribute its resources fairly while also ensuring sustainable development. One of the Strategy’s four axes focuses on environmental protection, with three main objectives:
- Sustainable management of the environment.
- Effective risk management to minimize human, economic, and environmental losses.
- Adequate adaptation to climate change.(p. 13)
The Strategic Plan for Climate Change (PECC; 2011-2030) was developed by the National Council for Climate Change and Clean Development Mechanism with the objective of achieving the National Development Strategy’s 2030 climate change-related goals. This Plan focuses on three strategic axes: institutional development, climate change adaptation, and climate change mitigation.
Further, in 2014 the Ministry of Agriculture presented the National Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change in the Agricultural Sector (2014-2020). Educational and awareness plans on climate change are part of the Strategy’s future targets.
The Dominican Republic’s National Adaptation Plan for Climate Change (2015-2030) aims to reduce the country’s vulnerability to climate change by building adaptative capacity and facilitating the integration of climate adaptation into national policies across all sectors.
The National Policy of Climate Change (PNCC;2016) was established to strengthen the Dominican Republic’s strategies and legal frameworks on climate change. The Policy also commits the country to implement more competitive economic development and increase the environmentally friendliness of policies. One of its goals is to create a quality education system that is also adapted to climate change. It also aims to create an education strategy for all levels, including professional education, aimed specifically at the efficient use of energy.
The Gender and Climate Change Plan (PAGCC-RD; 2018) is unique to the Dominican Republic. It addresses gender issues in relation to climate change and aims to overcome gender inequality.
The country’s most recent National Determined Contributions (2020) highlights how the government of the Dominican Republic is developing participatory, multisectoral, and ambitious objectives to mitigate and adapt to climate change. The document also describes the country’s structured and affordable objectives appropriate to addressing the challenges ahead. Moreover, the document indicates the country’s UNFCCC Action for Climate Empowerment strategies are being implemented and addressed as fundamental keys to achieving the Dominican Republic’s long-term goals.
Education and communication
The General Education Law has regulated and guaranteed education in the country since 1997 and makes environmental education a compulsory part of the National Curriculum Framework (2016). Further, the General Education Law aims to involve different government sectors in educational projects to: “Promote in the population an awareness of the protection and rational use of natural resources, as well as the defense of the quality of the environment and ecological balance” (Article 6, Section b).
The National Strategy to Strengthen Human Resources and Skills to Advance towards Green Development, with Low Emissions and Climate Resilience (2012) was created to increase ‘human capital’ through building skills appropriate to green industries, creating awareness about climate change, and improving climate change education in general. It was established through a partnership with UN:CC Learn and is sometimes also called the Climate Change Learning Strategy.
Law No.139-01 (2013) regulates higher education, sciences, and technology. It establishes guidelines to encourage economic competitiveness by generating and spreading sustainable development-related knowledge to train responsible and environmentally friendly professionals.
The 2020 Education and Environmental Communication Law (Law No.94-20) integrates environmental communication and climate change into different areas of formal and informal education in the country. It focuses on sustainable development and aims to change the behavior of the country’s citizens to make them more aware of environmental challenges. Climate change is included in the law. Article 1 of the law formulates its objective:
The purpose of this law is to include environmental education at different levels, cycles, grades, modalities and stages of the Dominican school and higher system, in public and private educational centers; as well as, in a transversal and articulated way, in all forms of formal, non-formal and informal education, in order to seek environmental awareness and awareness throughout Dominican society. (Article1)
The National Education Sector Plan (ESP) 2017-2020 references climate change as well as other related topics, strengthening the formal education sector in the Dominican Republic.
iv) Terminology used for climate change education and communication
Climate change education is referred to by such terms as ‘education for climate change,’ ‘environmental education,’ ‘formal climate education,’ and ‘education for sustainable development’ in relation to increasing ‘climate change resilience,’ ‘adaptation,’ and ‘mitigation.’
One of the first mentions of climate change education in the documents reviewed is in the Strategic Plan for Climate Change (PECC;2011-2030), which refers to ‘climate change education and engagement’ with the aim to “promote the implementation of community education programs on health and climate change”(p.26), among others.
‘Environmental education’ is used in the 3rd National Communication (2017) in reference to various strategies and objectives. For instance, the document calls for the “strengthening of environmental education through the inclusion of climate change in the curriculum” (p. 218).
The National Strategy to Strengthen Human Resources and the Skills to Advance towards Green Development, with Low Emissions and Climate Resilience references ‘climate change learning,’ saying that, “To address the learning needs on climate change in a sustainable way, the Strategy calls on the need to strengthen institutional capacities” (2012, p.17).
Terms implemented in the country’s formal education curricula are ‘climate change,’ ‘ecological awareness,’ ‘global warming,’ ‘environment,’ and ‘sustainable development.’ These topics are explored from pre-primary school to secondary school, reflecting an aim to create a general culture of climate change awareness and to empower people to act.
The National Climate Change Policy (PNCC; 2016) refers directly to education and climate change as one of its goals and aims to, “Implement and guarantee a quality national educational system, to facilitate adaptation to climate change” (p. 59).
The 2020 Education and Environmental Communication Law uses the following definition for environmental education:
Environmental education pursues the development of ecological awareness, which is its ultimate goal. It will be based on the following:
1) The eco-pedagogy approach;
2) The reorientation of the curriculum so that the contents are meaningful for the student, their community and the country, as well as for the health of the planet, in its broader context;
3) The conservation of nature (natural ecology), due to the impact of human societies on natural environments (social ecology), with special emphasis on adaptation to climate change, and also on a new model of sustainable civilization from the point of view from an ecological point of view (integral ecology), which implies a modification of economic, social and cultural structures;
4) Promote the evolution of current human, social and environmental relationships, for which it relies on environmental education, incorporating it and offering strategies, proposals and means for its concrete realization (Article 5)
The Dominican Republic’s climate change documents also reference ‘participation’ and ‘low carbon.’ For example, the 3rd National Communication highlights: “Therefore, the role of women as agents of change and their participation is encouraged for the transformation of society towards a low carbon and resilient development” (p.149).
The Nationally Determined Contributions (Updated NDC; 2020) demonstrates a commitment to Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) and for developing ACE initiatives. For example, the document describes climate change awareness as being:
….through different public institutions, in collaboration with municipalities, civil society (religious groups, academies and NGOs) and the private sector they carry out ongoing public awareness programs through different mechanisms. The messages developed focus on simplifying and directing people to take climate action and develop and implement action campaigns to encourage people to do small, easy things that can lead to long lasting change. (p.69)
v) Budget for climate change education and communication
According to the 3rd National Communication (2017), the government of the Dominican Republic designates 4% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to education. However, it is unclear how much of this is allocated to climate change education. In general, the National Communication highlights that finance is one of the biggest challenges in implementing climate action in the country. In 2013, UN CC:Learn invested US$30,000 to train teachers in a pilot program on climate change education. The country allocated US$1 million of its education budget to expand climate change teacher training following the successful implementation of the program.
The National Policy for Climate Change (PNCC; 2016) recommends the creation of a National Carbon and Climate Change Fund (FONCAC), which would centralize climate change funding, and finance and strengthen national climate change communications and education activities. However, the project had not yet been successfully developed at the time of this review.
Further, some international entities contribute to climate change projects in the Dominican Republic. For example, the Green Climate Fund has provided a total of US$6.2 million for climate change mitigation and adaptation projects. The World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) Carbon Fund has also provided funding for climate change-related projects in the Dominican Republic.
i) Climate change in primary and secondary education
Climate change is included both directly and indirectly in the Dominican Republic’s formal education system. A description of the types of climate change-related keywords discussed in the curricula may be found in the MECCE Project Monitoring section of this profile. In 2012, the National Strategy to Strengthen Human Resources and Skills to Advance towards Green Development, with Low Emission and Climate Resilience aimed to improve education on climate change, sustainability, and lowering emissions in the National Curriculum Framework. The Strategy focuses on individual and institutional capacity-building and proposes a 2030 vision where: "Dominican society has an education system and public policies are implemented that generate institutional capacities and human resources to face the challenges associated with adaptation and mitigation of climate change" (p.13).
The 2016 National Policy on Climate Change (PNCC) increases this commitment further by aiming to incorporate:
Climate change adaptation and mitigation into the curricula of all levels, cycles, subsystems and modalities of the Dominican educational system, making synergy with the contents of risk management and gender, considering the implications of education and training for its implementation, the necessary institutional adaptation and the allocation of the necessary resources. (p. 43)
Currently, climate change is not mentioned in the Dominican Republic’s Pre-Primary Curriculum (2020). Nevertheless, caring for the environment is included in the document, which says that schooling, “contributes to caring for the environment by integrating into their daily lives, small habits that favor the reduction of pollution, saving water and electricity, with the support of adults” (p.83).
Intending to build good values, rights, and responsibilities to create solutions to social issues, the National Curriculum Framework (2016) of the Dominican Republic outlines fundamental competencies from primary to secondary education, with the aim of instilling profound knowledge about diverse topics in students. Among those fundamental competencies, the environment is included as part of ‘living with nature’ to avoid natural hazards and climate change effects.
Most curricula information can be accessed on the General Directorate of the Curriculum Ministry of Education website. The primary education curriculum is split into two documents, First Cycle (Grade 1-3) and Second Cycle (Grade 4-6). Both curricula include environmental topics such as sustainable development, management of natural resources, awareness about natural disasters, and use of renewable energies. Further, an Environmental Crisis subject is taught from 6th grade, where students learn about climate change, the ozone layer, marine contamination, and biodiversity loss.
The secondary education curriculum is also split into two documents: First Cycle (Grades 7-9) and Second Cycle (Grades 10-12). Climate change topics are stressed starting in lower secondary grades, where students learn about global warming, greenhouse emissions, sea-level rise, and other climate change topics. Climate change is also included in the Social Studies subject, with topics such as industrial development and its consequences on the environment, artificial manipulation of the climate, and international entities working on climate change actions.
With the support of the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources, Eco-School Visits and Green Schools have been developed in schools to boost environmental education and create a general culture of climate change mitigation. These initiatives also involve teachers, students, and administrative staff in environmental workshops and excursions.
The Dominican Republic renewed its commitment to climate change education in 2020 through its Nationally Determined Contributions, which highlights an ambitious goal: “By 2030, include climate education at different levels, cycles, grades, modalities, and stages of the school system, in public and private educational centers; as well as in a transversal and articulated way” (2020, p.66).
ii) Climate change in teacher training and teaching resources
The Dominican Republic has a range of resources and means of supporting climate change teacher training. The 2015 Normative for Quality Teacher Training in the Dominican Republic is an initiative which aims to improve academic requirements in pedagogical studies and creating curricula according to current social needs. The training of professionals who are responsible for and respectful of the environment is envisaged through inclusion of climate change topics in the Earth Studies Subject.
In parallel, the National Institute of Education and Training of the Magisterium (INAFOCAM), which is attached to the Ministry of Education, coordinates the supply of education, training, updating, and improvement of education personnel in the country.
The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources offers environmental education courses for in-service teachers which cover climate change. The Ministry also aims to implement environmental education in school and university programs by teaching concepts, techniques, and methods to increase learners’ understandings of the importance of environmental subjects.
In 2017, the National Teacher Training Institute (INAFOCAM), the National Council on Climate Change and the Clean Development Mechanism (CNCCMDL), and the Sur Futuro Foundation trained more than 3,200 teachers through a climate change teacher program developed as part of a pilot project from UN CC:Learn.
The Salomé Ureña Higher Institute of Teacher Training is the only public institution of higher education in the country specialized on training education professionals. Among the courses offered is the Environmental Education Specialty Program, which includes sustainable development and climate change in the syllabus.
The Spanish version of the course Climate Change in the Classroom focuses on secondary education teacher training in the Dominican Republic. Developed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2013, the course highlights the importance of an interdisciplinary approach to teaching climate change and the need for a symbiosis between education for sustainable development and climate change:
Climate change is not only environmental in terms of its root causes (economic development models, industrialization, urban planning, consumption patterns, and lifestyles, etc.) or in terms of its current or expected effects (increased scarcity of resources, waste flow, etc.) or in terms of the means through which it can be mitigated or adapted (international conventions on carbon emissions, national green taxes, awareness programs, etc.) That is why UNESCO promotes ESD as the best framework to address the issue of climate change through education. (UNESCO strategy for the second half of the United Nations Decade of the Education for Sustainable Development, 2010, p.12)
According to the 3rd National Communication, more than 2,500 entry and mid-level teachers were trained in climate change education after the National Strategy to Strengthen Human Resources and Skills to Advance towards Green Development, with Low Emission and Climate Resilience launched in 2012. The Strategy has a strong focus on teacher training, including developing and disseminating teaching materials on climate change. In addition, 150 university professors were trained in coordination with the Environmental Network of Dominican Universities (RAUDO) as part of the Strategy.
The country’s Nationally Determined Contributions (2020) notes that the inclusion of climate change education in teacher training at all levels of the educational system is an aspirational plan for 2030.
iii) Climate change in higher education
In 2000, Law No.64-00 established the importance of developing environmental content in higher education programs to build professionals who can contribute to the sustainable use of natural resources, as well as to the protection and improvement of the environment.
The Environmental Network of Dominican Universities (RAUDO) is a non-profit association of universities which collaborates to produce and disseminate environmental knowledge for the national academic community and broader society with the aim of fostering sustainable development.
The Technology Institute of Santo Domingo (INTEC) is a member of the Dominican Republic’s National Delegation to the UNFCCC, supporting and implementing various climate change plans and projects. The university is the headquarters of the Climate Change and Resilience Observatory (OCCR), which conducts investigations, analyses, evaluations, and training to strengthen capacity to develop national strategies and public databases devoted to climate change adaptation and resilience.
International entities such as the Central American University Superior Council (CSUCA) have developed initiatives such as the University Program for Disaster Reduction and Adaptation to Climate Change in Central America (PRIDCA), which implemented the Guidelines to include the topic of climate change and the integral management of disaster risk in higher education institutions in Central America and the Dominican Republic initiative. The initiative reviews curricula, increases climate change awareness among the university community, and develops new proposals for higher education institutions on how to improve their climate actions.
The National Council on Climate Change and the Clean Development Mechanism (CNCCMDL) collaborates with the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo’s Network of Universities for the Environment (RAUDO) to develop climate change-related materials for higher education teachers. The initiative also trained over 300 university teachers on climate change issues in 2016. A diploma called ‘Solutions for Adaptation to Climate Change and the Increase of Resilience at Community Level’ is also available through this collaboration.
According to the Nationally Determined Contributions (2020), climate change courses are available in universities. For example, the Pontifica Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra has developed a Diploma in Solutions for Adaptation to Climate Change and Increasing Resilience at the Community Level, as well as a Diploma in Public Policies and Climate Change.
The strenuous assignment of putting climate change and environmental education into effect across the higher education sector has not been easy, and the government of the Dominican Republic continues its efforts. The Nationally Determined Contributions communicates the Republic’s aim to ensure that “all university students have the opportunity to take a module related to environmental science and climate change before graduating” by 2030 (2020, p.66).
iv) Climate change in training and adult learning
The Dominican Republic is now trying to reach more people living in poverty, who are the most vulnerable to climate change effects, through training and adult learning.
The 2016 National Policy on Climate Change (PNCC) highlights the need to focus on the informal education sector and includes a strategy for strengthening human resources in the area.
One of the primary challenges in educating the broader community about climate change has been the fight against illiteracy. Projects such as Quisqueya Aprende Contigo (Quisqueya learns with you; 2013) aim to decrease the percentage of illiterate people in the country over 15 years. The project is not only a literacy project, but also aims to lift people out of poverty. Climate change adaptation measures, such as ensuring stable and save housing for dignified lives, and providing information about such adaptation measures, are also part of the project.
The National Institute of Professional Technical Training (INFOTEP) is the central organization responsible for providing technical and vocational education and training in the Dominican Republic. Curricular programs include topics such as environmental management and renewable energies. Further, climate change is included in the Institute’s forward-looking planning projects.
The Listín Newspaper’s LEA Listín Education Updated aims to stimulate reading and meaningful learning using the newspaper. Its website offers a platform for students, teachers, and parents to engage with educational projects on topics such as air pollution and its impact on the environment; education for the preservation of non-renewable resources; and climate change adaptation, resilience, and prevention measures.
Some initiatives and institutions include training and adult learning on climate change in the agricultural sector. The Center for Agricultural Development (CEDAF) works with several international entities and non-governmental organizations to promote sustainable development in the agricultural and forest sectors through training, information, institutional innovation, and sector policies and strategies.
The National Council for Climate Change and Clean Development Mechanism offers free educational workshops to train public and private entities. The workshop topics include climate change awareness, information on the Clean Development Mechanism, and nationally appropriate mitigation actions.
According to the 1st Biennial Report of the Dominican Republic to UNFCCC (2020), the Dairy Livestock Improvement Program (MEGALECHE), is another example of climate change training in the agricultural sector. The Program trains ranchers and dairy farmers to implement climate change mitigation actions to develop alternative and sustainable livestock production systems.
i) Climate change and public awareness
Most Dominican climate change policies mention public awareness actions, indicating the Dominican Republic’s prioritization of public awareness efforts to further climate change adaptation through laws and policies. Many of these efforts are supported by UN organizations including the UNFCCC and UNESCO.
In 2012 the survey, Level of Knowledge and Perception of the Dominican Population about Climate Change, found that 98% of interviewees were aware that climate change is occurring, with television being their primary information source. Further, when asked to rank a variety of national interest issues that should be prioritized by the government, the interviewees ranked climate change in eighth position, with education and citizen security being ranked in first and second place, respectively. According to the Nationally Determined Contributions (2020), several initiatives were launched after the survey. These initiatives included workshops and talks developed by the Directorate of Environmental Education and Diffusion within the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources to raise awareness of the importance of caring for the environmental, with the intention of making it part of the citizens' daily lives to achieve sustainable development.
The 2020 Education and Environmental Communication Law includes a climate change awareness target that by 2030, the Dominican Republic will promote climate change adaptation and mitigation by significantly increasing social marketing programs through social networks and public events:
Continuous public awareness programs are carried out through different public institutions, in collaboration with municipalities, civil society (religious groups, academies, and NGOs), and the private sector through different mechanisms. The messages developed a focus on simplifying and directing people to take climate action and develop and implement campaigns to encourage people to do small, easy things that can lead to lasting change. These messages are carried through the traditional means of awareness and communication (newspapers, television, radio, etc.) and new media (social networks and digital platforms), as well as through citizen action campaigns and the components of raising awareness of different projects, practices, and measures of national climate action. (Nationally Determined Contributions, 2020, p.69)
The National Strategy to Strengthen Human Resources and Skills to Advance towards Green Development, with Low Emissions and Climate Resilience (2012) includes a focus on vulnerable groups as well as inter and intra-generational inequality.
The Dominican Republic faces a particular challenge in achieving gender equality, ranking fourth highest in gender inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean. Because this gender divide is enhanced by climate change, the country has developed strategies to combat this, including the National Development Plan 2030 (2012) and the National Plan for Gender Equality and Equity (PLANEG II; 2007-2017). These Plans advocate for including gender equality considerations in all of the country’s future plans and strategies, including those relating to climate change. For example, The National Development Plan 2030 stipulates that, “All plans, programs, projects, and public policies must incorporate the gender approach in their respective spheres of action, to identify situations of discrimination between men and women and adopt actions to guarantee gender equality and equity” (Article No.12, p.27).
The PLANEG II states that the Dominican Republic aims to empower women and make them feel secure in using their abilities to contribute to the country's sustainable development:
Climate change means, on the one hand, the disproportionate increase in women's workload. On the other hand, they play a fundamental role in the use of land and water and, in general, of biodiversity resources. In other words, women are agents of transformation whose empowerment and leadership can contribute significantly to solutions to face climate change. (National Plan for Gender Equality and Equity, 2018, p.28)
Following implementation of the above Plans for policy mainstreaming, the Gender and Climate Change Plan (PAGCC; 2018) was introduced. According to the PAGCC, climate change affects men and women in different ways. In rural areas, women typically have less access to land ownership, credit, training, information, participation in decision-making, and technology, among other things, which limits their ability to adapt to climate change. The PAGCC thus aims for Dominican women and men to have equal opportunities to participate in, and to benefit from, initiatives related to climate adaptation and mitigation. The PAGCC is also focused on the inclusion of a gender-aware approach to climate action in multiple sectors including energy, infrastructure, food safety, waste, health, costal-marine sector, tourism, and risk management.
ii) Climate change and public access to information
Access to information is very important as a mechanism to fight climate change in the Dominican Republic. Public access to information is legally guaranteed in the country, established by the General Law of Free Access to Public Information (Law 200-04) and Decree No. 130-05. Currently, the government of the Dominican Republic offers a website to allow its citizens easy access to information. Most of the Dominican Republic’s climate change information, plans, and strategies are freely available on the internet.
The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources provides information through the Environmental Information System (SIA). Public information about biological diversity, location and distribution of natural resources, environmental surveys, and the current status of the environment in the country are available on the website.
The Climate Change and Resilience Observatory at the Technology Institute of Santo Domingo (OCCR) offers a platform for researchers and the public to access information on climate change. The Platform’s general objectives include promoting rights to access and use information, and to encourage civil society participation in decision-making on climate change.
The National Council for Climate Change and Clean Development Mechanism features a website with different data about climate change, national plans, and strategies. Since 2013, it has offered a climate newsletter to disseminate information about national and institutional actions and initiatives on climate change matters.
The National Meteorological Office (ONAMET) keeps Dominican citizens informed about the country’s weather forecasts. Further, it provides a platform where people have easy access to information about surveys, research data, and other information on climate change.
The 3rd National Communication highlights the importance of access to information and describes the country’s efforts to improve the circulation of information between different actors. This includes improving how state actors communicate with each other and the general public when they develop new policies that include climate change. In general, the different government agencies are responsible for distributing and linking their information about climate change with others.
The Dominican Government acknowledges the importance of public access to information as a key means of fighting climate change in their Nationally Determined Contributions (2020). The document notes the country has set a target to require international and essential climate change documents be translated into Spanish to support increased public understanding of the ideas behind new policies.
iii) Climate change and public participation
Public participation is central to climate change action in the country, with initiatives being offered by a range of organizations, including governmental and private actors. The National Council for Climate Change and Clean Development Mechanism is a pioneer in efforts to unite climate change participation and transparency. Its website includes a public forum which includes discussion of different climate change matters.
Increasingly, community-based organizations are empowering Dominican citizens to take action on climate change. For example, in 2003, the Foundation Community Action Program for the Environment (PACMA) was established as a non-profit organization dedicated to community aid and environmental protection. The Program uses environmental education as a tool to raise citizens’ awareness of their responsibilities towards the environment and natural resources.
An additional example is the Group Popular Bank of the Dominican Republic. Private entities support economic, social, and environmental sustainability policies through the corporation, Popular Foundation. Climate actions are included in the Group Popular Bank’s programs for reforestation, watershed conversation, and hydroelectric dam projects.
Another project that considers public participation in climate change policies is the Dominican Forum on Climate Change, which was formed by a group of public and private institutions including the Technology Institute of Santo Domingo (INTEC). The Forum aims to create a platform to discuss climate change impacts, response measures, current projects, and policies, and to discuss viable solutions in which civil society can participate.
In its 3rd National Communication, the Dominican Republic states that the document was developed through a participatory process which included engaged public consultancies, events, and workshops, and included a special focus on ‘Green Municipalities.’
The Nationally Determined Contributions expanded on this and proposed public climate change forums be held to “establish a citizen consultation council on climate change with gender balance to guarantee a forum for citizen participation that influences the development of policy instruments climatic” (2020, p.72). In addition, some of the country’s national climate plans have been put forward for public consultation to promote shared responsibility for climate change. For instance, the 2020 update to the Nationally Determined Contributions was open to public consultation, where actors from the Dominican society were invited to play a role developing the national climate change goals.
i) Country monitoring
The National Council for Climate Change and Clean Development Mechanism is the primary entity responsible for creating climate change responses and initiatives and tracking all climate change processes in the Dominican Republic. Most of the country’s climate change plans and strategies, including those relating to climate change communication and education, are overseen by this Council.
The Directorate of Climate Change is responsible for “administering a Monitoring, Reporting and Verification System (MRV) on climate change that allows to comply in a transparent manner with the commitments assumed in the framework of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), its subsidiary bodies and the Agreement of Paris (AP)” (n.p.). This includes the Department of Adaptation to Climate Change.
In the education sector, the Dominican Institute for Evaluation and Research of Education Quality (IDEICE) has published the Journal of Educational Research and Evaluation (REVIE) since 2014. This digital platform keeps citizens informed by publishing the results of educational research, including some relating to climate change education. One such example is the 2018 Forging Environmental Awareness: Pro-environmental attitude and interaction with nature in primary level students study, which shows a significant increase in students’ environmental attitudes associated with environmental education.
Another survey, the Level of Knowledge and Perception of the Dominican Population about Climate Change Survey (2012), found that some initiatives have had considerable success in determining where to focus climate change awareness efforts, how to implement plans, and how to monitor climate change adaptation and mitigation in the country.
The Dominican Republic is the first Caribbean country to introduce a National Registry of Measures and Mitigation Actions on Climate Change, officially announced in 2019 and previously mentioned in the 2017 National Communication. The registry will be a public platform that accredits all efforts and actions to reduce greenhouse emissions by public and private institutions.
The National Integrated Information System (SINI) is a data collection center that systematizes the threats, vulnerabilities, and risks in the national territory such as coastal floods, droughts, lack of water, and extreme heat, among others. The system has surveillance capabilities, includes an alert system, and supports collaborative decision making.
The Dominican Republic participated in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)’s 2018 PISA Competence Study, which demonstrated that Dominican students’ knowledge of global issues, including climate change and global warming, was higher than the OCED average.
The Oficina Nacional de Estadística (ONE) is the main agency to collect data in the Dominican Republic. It collects data on the Sustainable Development Goals but no further information was publicly available at the time of data collection.
The Dominican Republic’s 2020 Nationally Determined Contributions highlights a main adaptation priority to strengthen monitoring and evaluation to improve decision-making. This includes a desire to “Strengthen the statistics system, improve the system of indicators, new and existing, including the main indicators vulnerability as a tool to inform decision making” and to improve the Generate Early Alert Systems (SAT), which includes climate change projections (p.41).
ii. MECCE Project Monitoring
The Monitoring and Evaluating Climate Communication and Education (MECCE) Project examined the National Curriculum Framework (NCF; 2016) and the Education Sector Plan for references to ‘climate change’, ‘sustainability’, ‘biodiversity’, and the ‘environment.’
‘Climate change’ is referenced five times in the Dominican Republic’s National Curriculum Framework (NCF; 2016). Further, the NCF references the ‘environment’ 10 times, ‘biodiversity’ once, and ‘sustainability’ once.
The Education Sector Plan (ESP) references ‘climate change’ once, ‘environment’ 4 times, and ‘sustainability’ 28 times.
Across the First and Second cycles of the primary school curriculum, ‘climate change’ is referenced once and ‘environment’ is mentioned 45 times. In the First and Second secondary education cycles, ‘climate change’ is mentioned 29 times, and the ‘environment’ 97 times.