Disaster agency to assess resources needed for CARICOM risk management strategy

Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of Government have recognised the occurrence of successive major hurricanes as a new norm to which the region must adapt and have, therefore, acknowledged several proposals from the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), which has been tasked with conducting an assessment of the resources needed to operationalise a disaster risk management and mitigation strategy.
The region’s leaders have called for innovative financing mechanisms as well as recapitalisation for the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) so that the region can generate financing for the magnitude of reconstruction required in the aftermath of natural disasters.
According to the Communiqué issued at the conclusion of the 29th Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM, the Heads noted that the vulnerability of Member States to natural hazards and the effects of climate change remain key challenges to sustainable development.
Referencing the successive major hurricanes that struck Member States and Associate Members in a period of less than two weeks in September, 2017, the communiqué acknowledged their devastating impact and welcomed CDEMA’s Comprehensive Disaster Management Strategy 2014-2024 as the Caribbean’s platform for achieving risk resilience.
They also expressed appreciation for the solidarity shown by CARICOM Member States and Regional institutions as well as the support of International Development Partners that was provided to the impacted Members States through the Regional Response Mechanism (RRM), coordinated by CDEMA.
However, though valuable and relevant, it was stressed that the RMM was constrained by inadequate assets and financial resources. Specifically, it was noted that the magnitude of reconstruction required significant levels of financing, which the Region was unable to generate on its own. Therefore, they called for innovative financing mechanisms, as well as recapitalisation for the CCRIF.
A proposal by CCRIF to extend the range of risk covered was noted and CDEMA was mandated to commission the preparation of a comprehensive assessment of the resource requirements to operationalise an effective disaster risk management and mitigation strategy for the Community.
Additionally, Heads of Government recognised that strengthening infrastructure was a key component of building the Region’s resilience, and that the implementation of building codes and associated standards was still a significant challenge in the Region. In that regard, they requested the CDEMA Council of Ministers to provide recommendations to the Conference for expediting implementation of building codes as a mechanism to safeguard critical infrastructure.
It was also acknowledged that the effectiveness of building the Community’s resilience must involve the interaction of social, economic and environmental policies while strengthening infrastructure and ensuring that systems and institutions established to help the Region respond to natural disasters are adequately resourced.
Further specific note was made of challenges experienced by Member States with regard to the evacuation of nationals during the 2017 hurricane season, and the imperative of articulating a comprehensive regional approach to addressing evacuation in response to catastrophic events. In that regard the Model Evacuation Policy and Plan endorsed by the CDEMA Council of Ministers was welcomed.
The President of Haiti, Jovenel Moïse, who chaired the two day conference announced that he would be organising an international conference on the strengthening of the mechanisms of resilience to the effects of climate change and the management of natural disasters in the Caribbean.
According to the Communiqué he indicated that this conference would be “an opportunity for the States, partners and international development actors to exchange ideas and make proposals on the best features of prevention and responses to natural disasters.”
Moïse noted that one of the options to counteract the harmful consequences of these adverse events would be to establish or strengthen funding mechanisms for disaster risk, so as to “help countries affected quickly access, the next day even after disasters, funds for reconstruction through affordable and effective procedures, rather than be paralyzed by the expectation of unlikely assistance which, in most cases, is too little, comes too late and, sometimes, never happens.”
Meanwhile, Heads of Government noted that focused implementation of the ambitious Paris Agreement was required in order to limit the most dangerous climate change impacts.
They recognised the need for focused and coordinated participation by CARICOM Member States in negotiations towards finalisation of the Paris Agreement Work Programme, in order to support and supplement positions taken by the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and agreed that all countries that have not yet done so, should take the necessary action to ratify the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement as a matter of urgency, in order to support more ambitious climate change action.
The leaders committed to support regional preparations for participation in negotiations throughout the year, and at COP 24 (United Nations Climate Change Conference), to take place in Katowice, Poland from December 3rd to 14th, 2018.
Member States have also been encouraged to take advantage of the strategic opportunities for financing under the Green Climate Fund and other climate financing options through the necessary accreditation process.

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