Alarming Research on the Impact of Climate Change for Bonaire

Rising Sea Level Threatens to Swallow Up One Fifth of Bonaire

Research by the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, commissioned by Greenpeace, shows that the consequences of climate change for Bonaire are disastrous. Heat waves are increasing and coral reefs, which function as natural barriers against high waves, are disappearing. The rising sea level threatens to swallow up one fifth of the island by the end of this century. WWF-NL together with other nature organizations, have been working to safeguard healthy coral reefs around the island for years and is calling on the Dutch government to implement the Nature and Environmental Policy Plan, which has been in place since April 2020.

Corals in Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean

Corals in Bonaire © WWF-NL / Pieter de Groot

Healthy reefs = Climate Resilience

Healthy reefs are more resilient to the effects of climate change and can continue to function as natural coastal barriers which can help prevent flooding. The extensive research of the Vrije Universiteit on the consequences of climate change for Bonaire confirms the urgency for rapid and effective measures to save coral reefs. The research stipulates the following conclusion about the coral reefs around Bonaire:

The beautiful coral reef around Bonaire forms a natural coastal barrier which helps to protect the island against flooding. In addition, the coral reef is deeply connected to the Bonairean identity, a nursery for marine life and world famous among divers. Its future is at stake due to climate change. Only in the most optimistic climate scenario, just below the target of the Paris Climate Agreement, will there be no major consequences by 2050. But in the most extreme climate scenario, so much coral will die that by 2050 only 13 of the 86 dive spots will survive. As a result, diving tourism will decrease, and it will have a huge negative impact on the economy. According to all expectations, the death of corals will continue after 2050. As a result, there is high probability that all corals will have disappeared by the end of the century.

Dutch government: time for action

Greenpeace intends, together with inhabitants of Bonaire, to file a lawsuit against the Dutch State to force the government to take climate action. WWF-NL supports the attention that Greenpeace is requesting. WWF-NL, together with other nature organizations on Bonaire, are also concerned about the implementation of the Nature and Environment Policy Plan. This plan has been ready to implement since April 2020 and more than 35 million euros have been made available this year. Unfortunately, it turns out to be challenging for Bonaire to implement this and the action steps to island’s implementation have still not been made. We call on the government to solve the problems that stand in the way of the short-term implementation.