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The countries of Central America’s Northern Triangle—El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras—are especially vulnerable to the severe and worsening impacts of climate change. This trend is causing a growing humanitarian crisis in a region already wracked by poverty, inequality, and violence—and one which bears little responsibility for climate change, contributing less than 1 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Climate change in the Northern Triangle also has implications for the United States, as it threatens the livelihood and only source of economic development for millions of people, contributing to instability in the region and exacerbating the forces driving migration from the Northern Triangle to the United States.
This policy brief, the first in a series of three publications, describes the main challenges and provides broad recommendations for the US strategy on climate change adaptation in the region. It is based on inputs from the Task Force on Climate Change in the Northern Triangle, coordinated by the Inter-American Dialogue.
- Strengthening partnerships and increasing direct funding to civil society organizations and local governments can promote long-term, sustainable programs grounded in the expertise of those on the front lines of climate adaptation. Critical sectors for climate change adaptation include agriculture and forestry, water, infrastructure and financing.
- Climate assistance should be directed at providing economic opportunities to vulnerable groups. By providing education, skills development, capacity building and training related to climate resilience, aid programs can help to create economic opportunities for at-risk populations, including Indigenous and Afrodescendant groups, women, and youth.
- The private sector, including informal businesses, must be involved in adaptation programs and policies. US assistance could help companies to identify priority areas for investment in resilience, create new products, access new markets, restructure some industries, and innovate to adapt to the impacts of climate change on their business.