The climate change program for the U.S. Virgin Islands was launched by Governor Kenneth E. Mapp on June 18, 2015, following his return from the U.S. Insular Areas Climate Change Stakeholder Meeting in Guam. The program, which is coordinated by the Office of the Governor, ensures that climate change adaptation policy and planning for the territory is conducted in a coordinated and collaborative manner. That collaborative approach is elaborated as a directive in the U.S. Virgin Islands Executive Order on Climate Change (Executive Order No. 474-2015), signed by Governor Mapp on October 15, 2015.
The executive order provides guidance for establishment of a climate change program for the United States Virgin Islands, in that it: (i) requires all agencies of the territorial government to assess climate-related vulnerabilities and risks to their operations and missions; (ii) requires all agencies of the territorial government to prepare agency adaptation plans and report annually on progress with plan implementation; (iii) provides for the development of a decision support system for climate change adaptation; and (iv) establishes the U.S. Virgin Islands Climate Change Council.
In March 2016, the U.S. Department of the Interior approved a technical assistance grant to the Government of the U.S. Virgin Islands to undertake vulnerability and risk assessments of key sectors in support of the preparation of the climate change adaptation strategy for the U.S. Virgin Islands. The grant is administered by the Office of Management and Budget, with technical assistance provided by the University of the Virgin Islands, University of the West Indies, Archibald Energy Group LLC, and Environmental Support Services LLC.
U.S. Virgin Islands Climate Change Council
As described in Section 4(e) of the U.S. Virgin Islands Executive Order on Climate Change, “The Council is an institutional space established to facilitate the development of a cohesive framework and strategy to prepare for climate change impacts on the Territory.” The Council is intended to function as a coordinating mechanism, working with public, private, and civil society sector institutions to prepare and implement the U.S. Virgin Islands climate change policy and adaptation strategy.
See the U.S. Virgin Islands Executive Order on Climate Change for more information on the structure, purpose, and functions of the Council.
The website for the U.S. Virgin Islands climate change program provides information on various initiatives. The activities listed below are those directly associated with the project funded by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 2016 and coordinated through the Office of the Governor.
- Workshop on “Sea Level Rise and the Impact on Economic Activity in Coastal Communities” in the U.S. Virgin Islands, held February 15-16, 2017. The workshop was organized by the Office of the Governor, and technical advice was provided by the Governors’ Institute 0n Community Design.
- Stakeholder consultations and data gathering by the University of the Virgin Islands and University of the West Indies. The data are being used to develop a climate profile for the U.S. Virgin Islands, which forms the basis of the vulnerability and risk assessments.
- Report of U.S. Insular Areas Climate Change Stakeholder Meeting, Guam, June 2015.
- U.S. Virgin Islands Executive Order on Climate Change. Executive Order No. 474-2015.
- Memorandum of Understanding to reduce the risk of climate change in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, November 2015.
- Testimony to the “Hearing on the Economic Impact of Climate Change on the U.S. Virgin Islands” convened by the 31st Legislature of the U.S. Virgin Islands, April 2016.
- Report of February 2017 workshop on “Sea Level Rise and the Impact on Economic Activity in Coastal Communities” in the U.S. Virgin Islands.