The Navy conducted a tabletop exercise alongside Caribbean partner nations to explore ways to enhance climate readiness and resilience throughout the region.

The two-day event in San Juan, Puerto Rico, marked the third in a series of exercises held in recent years designed to validate the Navy’s Climate Action 2030 strategy.  

Participants addressed many scenarios reflecting the real-world impact climate change is having in the region, ranging from wildfires spurred by arid conditions, strains on power grids and crop production due to high temperatures, and damage to critical infrastructure caused by more frequent and intense hurricanes.  

Vaughn Miller, minister for the environment and natural resources for the Bahamas, said the exercise captured the wide-ranging impacts climate change is having in the region and further underscored the importance of regional partnerships in addressing the threat.  

“The Bahamas is facing several challenges in the face of climate change, and over the last few days we’ve explored opportunities for cooperation with the United States and our regional partners,” Miller said.

He also noted a range of emerging climate-related threats that are reshaping the Bahamas and neighboring countries. Those include forest fires due to extended droughts and extensive damage to coral reefs which provide the first line of defense against storm surges.

Miller said the region must adapt to the new reality and mitigate against further harm.  

“The United States is a strategic partner for us in terms of security and in times of disaster, and we look forward to opportunities to expand our engagement.” 

Climate and regional interagency experts, including the U.S. Agency for International Development, the State Department, the Department of Energy and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration attended the Navy-led engagement.

Meredith Berger, assistant secretary of the Navy for energy, installations and environment, and the service’s chief sustainability officer, said participants focused, in particular, on the importance of integrating local knowledge and establishing continuous communication among key stakeholders.  

“The impacts of climate change, from increasing temperatures and droughts to changing precipitation patterns and rising sea levels, are impacting our forces, our communities and economies,” Berger said.

“Island and coastal nations like our Caribbean neighbors are on the front lines of this challenge, and we know that when we work together, we do better,” she said. “We have a lot to learn from each other, and even more to gain from working together to build our shared climate resilience and enhance our collective security.” 

Senior leaders across the Navy have recognized the imperative for action in the face of climate change.  

In his forward to the service’s climate strategy, published in 2022, Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro said climate change represents “one of the most destabilizing forces of our time, exacerbating other national security concerns and posing serious readiness challenges. 

“Our naval forces, the United States Navy and Marine Corps, are in the crosshairs of the climate crisis: The threat increases instability and demands on our forces while simultaneously impacting our capacity to respond to those demands,” Del Toro said.  

The Navy held its first climate action tabletop exercise in May of 2022 at the Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C. The first exercise brought together a range of partners to address issues related to the Navy’s response to climate change including logistics, authorities and funding. 

The next iteration was held the following year at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, where the Navy worked in collaboration with Standford University’s Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability to address issues related to water security, energy security and coastal resilience.

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