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The Dominican Republic is a Small Island Developing State country occupying the eastern two-thirds of the Caribbean Island of Hispaniola, which it shares with Haiti. With a land area of 48,310 km² and a 1,576 km-long coastline, the Dominican Republic is the second largest nation in the Antilles.

The Dominican Republic is characteristically mountainous. The Cordillera Central (Central Mountain Range), the principal mountain range in the country, runs east–west, and includes the four highest peaks in the Caribbean: Pico Duarte (3,098 m asl), La Pelona (3,094 m), La Rucilla (3,049 m), and Pico Yaque (2,760 m). The Cordillera Septentrional (Northern Mountain Range) runs parallel to the Atlantic coast, while the Sierra de Neiba and Sierra de Bahoruco mountain ranges occupy the southwest corner of the country. Vast intermountain valleys are interspersed with the mountain ranges. The Cibao valley lies between the Central and Northern mountain ranges and is home to most of the farming areas of the country. The Llano Costero del Caribe (Caribbean Coastal Plain) is the largest plain in the Dominican Republic and home to extensive sugar cane plantations.

The Yaque del Norte (the longest Dominican river), Yuna, Yaque del Sur, and Artibonito are the country’s major rivers. There are many lakes and coastal lagoons; the largest lake is Enriquillo, a saltwater lake at 45 m below sea level. Many small offshore islands and cays form part of the Dominican territory; the two largest islands are Saona and Beata.

The climate is primarily tropical, but temperature and rainfall vary widely with elevation and topography. The overall annual mean temperature is 25 °C but it can be as low as 18 °C at the highest elevations, and as high as 28 °C near sea level. January and February are the coolest months of the year; August is the hottest month. The rainy season lasts from May through November in most of the country, with May being the wettest month. The northeast and the Cordillera Oriental are the rainiest parts of the country, receiving over 2,500 mm of rain per year, while the southwestern valleys and the westernmost part of the country receive less than 760 mm. Inter‐annual variability is influenced strongly by the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and La Niña phenomena; El Niño events bring warmer and drier than average conditions between June and August while La Niña events bring colder and wetter conditions.

The Dominican Republic is a representative democratic republic, administratively divided into one National District (the capital city of Santo Domingo) and 31 provinces which are, in turn, subdivided into 155 municipalities [1], [2], [3].

Important National Context

With an estimated total population of 10.535 million inhabitants (49.9% men, 50.1% women) and 218 inhabitants per square kilometer (as of 2021), the Dominican Republic is the third most populous Caribbean country. The population is still growing but at a rate that has been declining since the 1970s (0.87% estimated annual growth rate as of 2021) and is projected to reach over 11.25 million inhabitants by 2030 [4], [5].

The spatial distribution of the population is highly uneven. The southern coastal plains and the Cibao valley are the most densely populated areas of the country. The Santo Domingo Metropolitan region has an estimated population of 4,004,906 (about 38% of the country’s population) in 2021. Other important provinces are Santiago de los Caballeros, San Cristobal, and La Vega. The Dominican Republic has been going through a rapid urbanization process as a result of population growth in cities and rural-to-urban migration. Some 82.8% of the population is estimated to live in urban zones in 2021, compared to 73.8% in 2010 (date of the latest population census) [4], [5].

With a 2019 UNDP’s Human Development Index value of 0.756 and a Gross National Income per capita of $7,260 (as of 2020), the Dominican Republic is regarded as a high human development, upper-middle income country [6]. The Dominican economy, formerly dependent on the export of agricultural products such as sugar, cocoa, and coffee, has transitioned to a diversified mixture of services (particularly tourism, telecommunications, and finance), manufacturing, agriculture, mining, and trade over the last three decades. As a result, it has enjoyed robust economic growth: GDP grew steadily at a 4.9% average annual growth rate over the 2001–2019 period, making the Dominican Republic one of the fastest-growing economies in the LAC region. Virtually all sectors contribute to this growth; the service sector (mainly including tourism, telecommunications, and finance) accounted for 58% of GDP, followed by manufacturing (13.8%), agriculture, forestry, and fishing (5.2%), and other activities, as of 2019. Remittances from the Dominican diaspora, mainly in the United States, have been also contributing substantially to the country’s economic growth, with the equivalent of 8.3% of GDP in 2019.

The recession that followed the collapse of Baninter bank in 2002–2003 resulted in the monetary poverty rate reaching 50% in 2004. But thanks to the strong economic growth of the last 15 years, poverty has been substantially reduced and the middle class has been expanding. Monetary poverty decreased from 47.2% in 2005 to 21.0% in 2019, while extreme poverty decreased from 16.1% to 2.7% over the same period. Significant disparities in poverty level still remain across different regions of the country. Monetary and extreme poverty in the southern and western regions along the Haitian border are the highest in the country and significantly higher than the countrywide rates: 37.0%/5.2% and 35.6%/4.1% general/extreme poverty in the Enriquillo and El Valle regions, respectively. Thus, the inequality in income distribution, as measured by the Gini coefficient, has also improved but not as dramatically: from 0.508 in 2005 to 0.431 in 2019.

The Dominican Republic was severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to the public health crisis, the pandemic had a major impact on growth and poverty. The unemployment rate climbed up to 8.9%, GDP contracted by 6.7%, and poverty is estimated to have risen to 23.4% (i.e., some 270,000 people fell into poverty) in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the DR into its first recession in nearly 17 years [7], [8], [9], [10], [11], [12].

The Dominican Republic currently has an advanced telecommunication system and internet services. In 2005, 90% of the population had access to electricity (95.2% vs. 79.7% in urban vs. rural areas), fixed telephone services had a coverage of only 9.9 subscriptions per each 100 people, the penetration of cellular phone services was 39.8 subscriptions per each 100 people, and only 11.4% of the population were using the internet. Thanks to the vigorous economic growth of the last 15 years, access to electricity increased to 100%, the penetration of cellular phone services increased to 83.3 subscriptions per every 100 people, and 75.8% of the population were using the internet by 2019.

The country relies heavily on fossil fuels for electric power, but in recent years it has made a priority of generating more of its electricity from renewable sources. About 13% of the electricity generated in 2005 came from hydroelectric sources, 0.5% from wind energy, and the rest from fossil fuel sources; the share of wind energy increased to 4.1%, hydroelectric sources was 5.5%, and the share of solar energy increased to 0.78% in 2019 [7].

Lying at the core of the Atlantic hurricane belt, the Dominican Republic is highly exposed to cyclones and hurricanes, which hit the country once every two years on average (but can occur as often as two per year or as little as every five to ten years), usually between June and October, with the greatest impact along the southern coast. The occurrence of hurricanes is also strongly linked with ENSO and La Niña, being more frequent during La Niña events. The cyclones and hurricanes cause heavy rains, floods, and landslides, with considerable economic and social impacts. For instance, Hurricane Georges in 1998 caused a total of 347 deaths and loss and damages for 3,146 million, which amounted to approximately 14% of the 1997 GDP. Tropical storms Olga and Noel hit the country in 2007 directly affecting over 141,000 people. A total of 25 named tropical storms and hurricanes hit the Dominican Republic between 2011 and 2021, causing a total of 245 deaths and damages for 909 million. Poor rural households whose livelihoods depend heavily on natural resources, are particularly vulnerable to these natural disasters [2], [3], [13].

Environmental Governance

The 2000 General Act on Environment and Natural Resources [14] is the principal instrument of environmental management in the Dominican Republic. The Act set guidelines for the conservation, protection, improvement, restoration, and sustainable use of the country’s environment and natural resources. Environmental objectives were enshrined in the 2010 amendment to the national constitution [15] to state the nation’s ownership of natural resources; the people’s right to enjoy and sustainably use the country’s natural resources and to live in a healthy, ecologically balanced environment; as well as the conservation of ecological equilibrium and protection of the environment as fundamental rights of the Dominican population. Several regulations, decrees, and laws aimed to govern specific environmental issues such as protected areas [16], payment for environmental services [17], forestry [18], climate change, water resources, development of renewable energy sources [19], sustainable production and consumption [20], and others have been formulated and adopted since then to gradually build up the Dominican Republic’s environmental policy and regulatory framework.

The Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (MARENA, for its acronym in Spanish) was created (as a Secretariat) by the 2000 General Act on Environment and Natural Resources. MARENA is the government institution primarily responsible for formulating, implementing, and overseeing the country's environmental and natural resources policies. MARENA’s priorities and mid-term objectives are stated in a four-year Institutional Strategic Plan (PEI, for its acronym in Spanish); the PEI 2021-2024 [3] was recently adopted.

In addition to the domestic policy and regulatory framework, the Dominican Republic is party to several legally binding multilateral environmental agreements, including those that emerged from the 1992 Earth Summit, the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals, and the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.

The Dominican Republic’s environmental policy and regulatory framework seems to still be under development. Technical and financial assistance from bilateral and multilateral organizations has been required to comply with commitments (e.g., national reports and action plans) to multilateral environmental agreements such as the CBD, UNFCCC, Montreal Protocol, etc., as well as for formulating policy and regulatory instruments such as the MARENA’s PEI and others [3].

National context alignement with the EU Green Deal

Most of the strategic axes of the Dominican Republic’s Plan for an Economic Development Compatible with Climate Change (Plan DECCC[21] are entirely consistent with the EU’s focus on prioritizing climate action consistent with the Paris Accord.

The fourth strategic axis of the National Development Strategy 2030 [22] aims at attaining a society with a culture of sustainable production and consumption, that manages risks and protects the environment and natural resources with equity and efficiency, and promotes adaptation to climate change. As such, it is fully consistent with the aims of the EU’s focus on prioritizing climate action consistent with the Paris Accord, and with its Biodiversity and Forest Strategies. In particular: Specific objective 4.1.1 Protect and sustainably use the goods and services of the nation's ecosystems, biodiversity, and natural heritage, including marine resources; and Specific Objective 4.3.1 Reduce vulnerability, advance adaptation to the impacts of climate change, and contribute to climate change mitigation.

The EU, its Member States and the EIB are significant partners for the Dominican Republic politically, economically and socially. Additionally, they have become key allies in the country’s regional development strategy in the Caribbean and Central America, CARIFORUM and SICA, which the DR belongs to both. The EU has worked over the last years to align EU Development programmes to those of the Dominican Republic, and therefore, EU’s programming exercise is aligned with the National Development Strategy 2030.

An EU-DR reinforced partnership will contribute to promote common values and develop mutually agreed priorities, strengthening EU political interests. Among the government’s current priorities, is the economic recovery following COVID-19, which includes tackling gender inequalities and closing the digital gap that the pandemic has brought to light. Considering this, the global, regional and local challenges, the EU global priorities and the EU added value in contributing to the objectives of the DR National Development Strategy and government's plans, the EU through its Multi-annual Indicative Programme (MIP) 2021-2027 has identified the following priority areas for future EU-DR cooperation: (i) Increasing economic opportunities, especially for women and youth; (ii) Nature and cities for people; and (iii) A modern state close to its citizens [23].

Key Environmental-Development Challenges


The current vigorous economic development of the Dominican Republic has been grounded on the services and industry sectors and has overlooked, to some extent, their impact on the environment and the conservation of water and marine and coastal resources, among others. The alteration, fragmentation, and loss of ecosystems and species threaten the country’s rich biodiversity.


Climate Change

Threats posed by natural (hydrometeorological and seismic) hazards — some of which will be aggravated by climate change — exacerbate the issues derived from the unsustainable use of natural and water resources.

Poverty and marginalization increase the vulnerability to natural and climate-related hazards in some parts of the country. Linking poverty and environment through sustainable management is crucial for the long-term sustainability of the country’s socioeconomic development.


[1] Library of Congress. Federal Research Division - Metz, Helen Chapin. 2001. Dominican Republic and Haiti: country studies.

[2] World Bank – Climate Change Knowledge Portal. Dominican Republic. Retrieved October 2021 

[3] Ministerio de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales. 2021. Plan Estratégico Institucional 2021-2024.

[4] Oficina Nacional de Estadística. Datos y Estadísticas – Estimaciones y proyecciones demográficas. Retrieved October 2021

[5] Oficina Nacional de Estadística. 2012. IX Censo Nacional de Población y Vivienda 2010 – Informe General.

[6] UNDP-Human Development Index Retrieved September 2021

[7] World Bank Data. Retrieved September 2021

[8] World Bank Poverty Data Retrieved September 2021

[9] World Bank. 2021. Poverty and Equity Brief – Dominican Republic

[10] Oficina Nacional de Estadística. Datos y Estadísticas – Estadísticas Sociales – Pobreza. Retrieved October 2021

[11] IDB. Dominican Republic Country Strategy 2017-2020

[12] Primer Informe Bienal de Actualización de la República Dominicana ante la Convención Marco de las Naciones Unidas sobre el Cambio Climático 2020

[13] EM-DAT, the International Disaster Database. Retrieved September 2021

[14] República Dominicana 2000. Ley General sobre Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales.

[15] Constitución Política de la República Dominicana, proclamada el 26 de enero de 2010. Publicada en la Gaceta Oficial No. 10561, del 26 de enero de 2010

[16] Ley No. 202-04. Ley sectorial de áreas protegidas.

[17] Ley No. 44-18 que establece pagos por servicios ambientales.

[18] Ley No.58-18 Ley Sectorial Forestal de la República Dominicana.

[19] Ley No. 57-07 sobre incentivo al desarrollo de fuentes renovables de energía y sus regímenes especiales.

[20] Decreto No. 153-15. Que crea el Programa Nacional de Consumo y Producción Sostenible.

[21] Presidencia. 2011. El Plan de la República Dominicana para el Desarrollo Económico Compatible con el Cambio Climático.

[22] Ministerio de Economía, Planificación y Desarrollo. 2012. Ley 1-12 Estrategia Nacional de Desarrollo 2030.

[23] DG INTPA, European Commission, 2021. DOMINICAN REPUBLIC Multi-annual Indicative Programme 2021-2027.