The latest annual University of Notre Dame (US) Global Adaptation Index (ND-GAIN) shows Costa Rica overtaking Panama as the best prepared country in Central America for climate change.
ND-GAIN ranks 178 countries based on their vulnerability to climate change and readiness to adapt to climate-related droughts, major storms and natural disasters. The leading country in the index this year is Norway, scoring 82.7 out of 100, while Chad is bottom, scoring 31.6. Costa Rica is in 69th place with a score of 58.2, followed by Panama, with 56.6. In general, Central American countries rank towards the middle of index. However, three of these are among the seven that have experienced the sharpest declines globally in the 2014 survey relative to 2013: Guatemala, El Salvador and Belize.
The founding chief executive of the University of Notre Dame's Global Adaptation Institute, a former Salvadoran finance minister, Juan José Daboub, has said that Central America is not as prepared as it could be because of a lack of public policies and an inability to attract sufficient local and foreign direct investment in areas that represent vulnerabilities. Mr Daboub has estimated that the region will need to spend around US$1bn over the next 25 years on adaptation, of a global annual total of between US$30bn and US$100bn. This does not include the costs of mitigating the effects of climate change over the longer term. He argues that private-sector investment will need to provide the bulk of this, as governments will be unable to do so.
Central America currently accounts for just 0.5% of greenhouse gas emissions globally. However, climate scientists believe that the region is a hotspot for future climate-related damage. Its seven countries already suffer disproportionately from flooding, hurricanes and other natural disasters. Indeed, Costa Rica, Honduras and Guatemala declared states of emergency earlier this year after drought severely affected agriculture. However, their ability to cope varies tremendously, and Costa Rica and Panama will continue to be the top countries in the region for climate change adaptation, increasingly pulling away from their neighbours.
Impact on the forecast
Our baseline forecast continues to assume that all countries in the region will suffer from occasional climate-related disruptions.