Vulnerability

 

“Inherent vulnerabilities + climate change = increased risk”

 

Most of the UKOTs face inherent economic, ecological and social vulnerabilities associated with the small size of their land mass, populations and economies.  The economies of UKOTs are not highly diversified and they depend on a narrow range of goods or services. UKOTs are too small to realise gains from economies of scale, are highly dependent on exports, have high communication and transportation costs and are vulnerable to natural hazards. Changing climate patterns and extreme weather add another dimension of vulnerability.

 

Green turtle Chelonia mydas on Ascension Island © Anselmo PelembeClimate change is also increasing pressure on the rich biodiversity resources of the UKOTs. It is affecting habitats and ecosystems and could lead to a decline in the populations of some species. For example, there are fewer available turtle nesting sites in the Caribbean territories as a result of coastal erosion, some of which is linked to climate change. 

 

Loss of plants and animals has more than just ecological consequences for the UKOTs. There are economic consequences that need to be considered. Several territories, particularly those in the Caribbean and the South Atlantic, depend to varying degrees on tourism. The environment plays a large role in the viability of this industry.  Fisheries and agriculture are similarly very dependent on the environment. Therefore, ecological changes, such as declines in populations of some plants and animals, can negatively affect these industries.