Geographies of risk governance in the Caribbean: Insights from the binational island of St Martin

Authors: Maud BORIE*, King's College London
Topics: Hazards, Risks, and Disasters, Environmental Perception, Cultural Geography
Keywords: risk governance; caribbean; STS; expertise; climate change
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Regency Ballroom, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The challenges awaiting Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) in the face of climate change and extreme weather events have been widely described in the literature. However, less attention has been directed to the ways in which transformative change occurs in these islands and in the context of repeated extreme weather events. In this contribution we direct our attention to Saint Martin, an island of the lesser Caribbean which presents the particularity of being shared between France and the Netherlands. Although operating under different political and institutional regimes, both sides of the island have maintained relations with their former colonial State. In September 2017, the island was hit by hurricane Irma, destroying more than 90% of buildings. Drawing on empirical material, including interviews and document-analysis, we use qualitative methods to develop comparative insights between the two sides. In doing so we build in particular on governance and STS studies. First we analyse how governance arrangements regarding disaster risk reduction and adaptation practices have been co-produced over the past 40 years identifying different periods. Second, we map different ways of understanding ‘building back better’, which was the motto in the aftermath of the disaster, in order to identify how these perspectives fit into broader historical trajectories and whether there are some elements of learning. We then discuss implications for governance and open-up a range of research questions.

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