Honduras, moving towards becoming a more resilient and inclusive country in the face of climate change

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Indigenous women working in Agriculture in Honduras
Indigenous women working in Agriculture in Honduras. Picture: World Bank

When visiting World Bank projects in Honduras, it is easy to be blown away by its beauty: from the pristine beaches on the Caribbean coast and its lush rainforest landscapes, to the historical and cultural sites influenced by indigenous and Afro-Caribbean traditions. However, Honduras is the second most affected country by extreme weather events according to the Global Climate Risk Index  and these natural resources are continually threatened by climatic phenomena, as indicated by the Honduras Climate and Development Report from the World Bank.

A recent example is the impact of category 4 hurricanes Eta and Iota in 2020, which caused severe rains and flooding, affecting 4.7 million people, almost half of the population . In addition, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic intensified the already existing social and economic challenges, causing greater impacts on areas with high concentrations of indigenous and Afro-descendant communities. The social and economic costs were estimated at USD 1.8 billion, equivalent to 7.5 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), due to damage to infrastructure, land and crops.

If climate change measures are not implemented, the country’s economy will be affected. The analysis in the report indicates that floods, windstorms and earthquakes could generate an annual GDP loss of 5.4 percent by 2050 . These phenomena could reduce coffee, corn, bean and sugar cane harvests, which represent four of the country’s five main crops. Thirty percent of Hondurans work in the agricultural sector, potentially resulting in the loss of thousands of jobs. Studies predict that the number of people living in poverty could exceed five million by 2050.

Shining a light on the climate horizon

Faced with a scenario in which projections indicate that climate events will be more frequent and intense, there is still hope. The nationally determined contribution (NDC) of Honduras aligned to the Paris Agreement, updated in 2021, promotes the development of mitigation and adaptation actions against the impacts and effects of climate change and promotes sustainable development.

These actions include improvements in various sectors such as biodiversity, water or energy resources, which can contribute to the generation of green jobs, the reduction of costs derived from energy efficiency, improved air quality and greater resilience of natural and productive systems, among others.

However, these commitments to implement the Honduras NDC face significant challenges. As a means of supporting countries in defining, updating and implementing their NDCs, the World Bank designed a document called the Climate and Development Report, which outlines concrete ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to achieve climate goals and includes a diagnosis to help advance the country’s development objectives.

 

Opportunities for Low-Carbon development in Honduras

Infographics: Opportunities for low carbon development in Honduras
Source: Generated from data extracted from the Country Climate and Development Report for Honduras

The Honduras Climate and Development Report outlines opportunities for improvement in areas such as natural resource management, implementation of agricultural practices to increase productivity and reduce deforestation, development of transport infrastructure, and renewable energy sources  such as solar and wind. 

The report highlights that strategies and policies must be designed with a people-centered approach to ensure social inclusion. Historically excluded groups, such as women, indigenous peoples and Afro-descendants, are most affected by climate change-related phenomena, especially those who depend on agriculture and other natural resources for their livelihoods. This restricts access to quality infrastructure, social safety networks, and decision-making spaces.

Recommendations for a more resilient and greener future

Honduras has already advanced in the management of climate change impacts. However, the analysis in the report concludes that while there have been important improvements in the legal and policy framework, efforts to integrate the operational plans of implementing agencies and budget allocations are still required .

Adaptation and mitigation policies should consider the differentiated impacts of climate change on excluded groups and explore opportunities for locally-led climate action. The sectoral policy priorities recommended by the Honduras Climate and Development Report are: 

  1. Promotion of agricultural resilience and productivity, including sustainable landscape practices
  2. Low-carbon and climate-resilient transportation systems
  3. Development of reforms to improve energy efficiency such as the promotion of hydropower investments

Download the new Honduras Climate and Development Report here to read the full analysis.

 

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Authors

Katharina Siegmann

Senior Environmental Specialist in the World Bank

Kinnon Scott

Resident Representative in Honduras, Latin America and Caribbean

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