Greater resilience necessary to confront ‘new normal’ – CARICOM Secretary-General at agriculture meeting
The catastrophic hurricanes that ripped through Caribbean territories recently were likely to be the “new normal”, and provided the evidence of the reality of climate change, Caribbean Community Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque said Friday.
The impact of the storms also pointed to the need for the Region to build greater resilience to face the new normal, Ambassador LaRocque said.
He was at the time delivering remarks at the opening of the 71st Special Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) on agriculture that convened Friday morning at the CARICOM Secretariat in Georgetown, Guyana. The Meeting is being held as the Region is grappling with the devastating effects of two Category Five Hurricanes – Irma and Maria – on some CARICOM Member States and Associate Members.
The Ministers of Agriculture have prioritised climate change, risk management, building resilience and climate smart agriculture agenda over the day long session.
“These climatic events of the past month were unprecedented. Never before have two category five storms ravaged the Region in one season. Never before has a hurricane moved from category one to category five inside 36 hours as Hurricane Maria did. Events like these are likely to be the new normal and provide proof positive of the reality of climate change”, the Secretary-General said.
The devastation caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria to the agriculture and fisheries sectors was a stark example of that fact, the Secretary-General added. The hurricanes destroyed the agriculture sectors in Dominica and Barbuda.
He pointed to the strong appreciation that Ministers of Agriculture had for the inherent fragility of the sector, especially to climatic events., and underscored the importance of rebuilding the sector in the affected countries in the shortest possible time.
Among the matters the Ministers will address at the Meeting is the establishment of a Regional Agriculture Emergency Sub-Committee which will have responsibility for the development of a regional emergency response protocol to safeguard human and livestock health.
“That response must also include plans for the sector to rebound in the shortest possible time. It must look at the provision of planting and other material to assist in the production of short term food crops. This would be critical in feeding the population and assisting in respect of food security. And it would also be an important factor in getting the agriculture sector in the affected countries back on track”, the Secretary-General said.