The Resilient Puerto Rico Advisory Commission – a collaborative of leaders from Puerto Rico’s businesses, government, and NGOs – came together with local communities after Hurricane Maria to determine how to best rebuild Puerto Rico as a more physically, economically, and socially resilient island. The Commission released ReImagina Puerto Ricoas a guide to resilient recovery and reconstruction. The report offers recommendations for how to maximize philanthropic, local government, and federal recovery funds.
Hurricanes Irma and María hit Puerto Rico on September 2017 and destroyed much of the Island. According to the report: “Hurricane María caused a complete loss of power, and it damaged thousands of housing units, as well as telecommunication towers, roads, bridges, schools, and 80% of the Island’s crop value. Furthermore, Hurricane María impacted the structural integrity of all hospitals and health clinics, affected 70% of Puerto Rico’s potable water treatment and distribution system, and caused immense suffering to nearly everyone in the Island.”
The report outlines 97 recommendations across six sectors – Housing, Energy, Physical Infrastructure, Health, Education and Social Services, Economic Development, and Natural Infrastructure. 17 of these recommended actions are considered high priority for resilient reconstruction. In addition, six supplementary reports for each of the focal sectors which profile pre- and post- hurricane conditions, sector context, sector goals, opportunity actions, and related resources.
Throughout the project’s working group meetings and community outreach efforts, the following climate change related impacts affecting Puerto Rico were recognized: floods, heatwaves, hurricanes, epidemics, landslides, drought, sea-level rise, and coastal and riverine erosion. Many other significant stressors were identified that compound these impacts such as limited health services, vulnerable populations, severe economic depression, and “derelict energy, water, transport, facilities, and telecommunication infrastructure systems.”
Lessons learned from post-disaster recovery efforts for Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina are highlighted, one of the main lessons focuses on climate change. The report describes the importance of explicitly acknowledging the potential long-term impacts of climate change and embedding resilience into all post-disaster recovery actions.
17 high priority recommendations were distinguished across the 6 focal sectors. Each recommendation offers a thorough review of key aspects, and the potential lead organization or agency, partners and funders – as well as immediate next steps. Some examples of these priority recommendations are to:
- Establish reliable and diversified backup energy systems for vulnerable individuals and critical facilities, such as hospitals, schools, and emergency shelters and services facilities.
- Invest in improvements to the physical infrastructure of educational and healthcare facilities to improve the provision of services on a regular basis and in the face of multiple hazards.
- Develop a water efficiency program to improve water demand management through water conservation and use of alternative water sources.
- Develop and implement a disaster resilience strategy for the micro and small businesses of Puerto Rico.
- Develop a public policy to promote the use of nature-based solutions in the reconstruction process of Puerto Rico.
- Improve the Puerto Rico Dam Safety Program to ensure coordination between responsible agencies and enhance community preparedness.
ReImagina Puerto Rico was created in partnership with 100 Resilient Cities (100RC), an organization pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation. 100RC provided technical support, a resilience framework and methodology, as well as collaborated with local experts to instill resilience into the recommendations.
Source: Adaptation Clearinghouse