Calls for inter-Island cooperation among SIDS in reducing disaster risks

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There were many calls for inter-island cooperation, as well as adequate financial and technical resources in Geneva this week as disaster risk reduction experts met on strengthening partnerships for Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

Local government representatives told the fourth session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction that there would be no disaster resilience without effective decentralization, without empowering communities and without addressing social inequalities and poverty alleviation.

David Basile, Minister of the Interior of Haiti, said that the Caribbean nations were coming closer together than ever before, with true regional integration developing through political and economic events. He said for example, there had been increasing exchanges on climate change, and on controlling and managing land and sea phenomena: an increase in heavy rainfall could be expected, but what would happen with the farming cycle was unpredictable.

James Fletcher, Minister of Public Service, Sustainable Development, Energy, Science and Technology of Saint Lucia, said the Caribbean, where many countries were already confronting debt and anaemic economic growth, faced an increased risk of climate change. He said in order to minimize the possible trauma, disaster mitigation should be approached from the regional level. Small Island Developing States should institute effective early warning systems, strengthen planning and building guidelines, and share best practices and economic constraints should be considered in investing in the future.

Jose Rubiera, Director of the National Forecasting Centre of Cuba, said the planet was changing and there was an increased hurricane risk in the Caribbean, but Cuba had faced many previous such disasters successfully. Its meteorologists used simple language and graphics to explain hurricanes, and their messages were translated into guidelines and recommendations and broadcast as early warning messages through various media. He said student competitions were held to test knowledge of disaster issues, and little by little the population was developing an awareness of risk.

Ronald Jackson, Executive Director, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, said that disaster risk reduction was a developmental issue, involving governance, partnerships for sustainable financing, and emerging partnerships. He said while the issue had advanced considerably in the region, more targeted investment was required. According to the CDEMA official, partners and funding should be further harmonized, language should be repackaged and the value of investing in risk reduction should be better illustrated.

Speakers concurred that Caribbean nations were coming together to address climate change, sustainable development, trade and the like. However, one of the challenges was to ensure that the strategies were mutually reinforcing. They said efforts were also presently focused on tourism and community-level risk reduction, and suggested that rather than spread out into broader sectors, such as agriculture, a cross-sectoral approach might be advisable, along with regional work on trans-boundary risks.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 2’49″

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January 2018
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