Caribbean felt full brunt of climate change in 2017

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados,  CMC – In 2017, the Caribbean felt the full brunt of climate change with a warning that current trends indicate that there will be no respite.

Within a two-week period, Hurricanes Irma and Maria brought home the reality of the impact of climate change as they churned their way across the Lesser Antilles destroying everything in their paths. Hurricane Harvey had in August set the stage for what was to come; with devastation in Houston, Texas, amounting to nearly US$200billion.

“The unprecedented nature of this climatic event highlights the unusual nature of weather patterns that continue to affect nations across the globe,” the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary General Irwin LaRocque said in a message to United States President Donald Trump, as Harvey made landfall in the United States after whipping up strong winds and heavy rains in the Caribbean.

It took less than a month for his statement to bear fruit. Hurricanes Irma and Maria, two Category 5 storms left so many Caribbean islands devastated in September that the CARICOM Chairman and Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell said “there can be no question that for us in the Caribbean, climate change is an existential threat”. (more…)

2017 In Photos

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As 2017 ends and we usher in 2018, we take a look back at a challenging year, but one in which CARICOM showed its formidable strength and resilience.

Here are some highlights:

 

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BVI launches Flood-Resilient SMART Communities Project

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Three flood-prone communities in the British Virgin Islands to get help (Photo via Caribbean News Service)
Three flood-prone communities in the British Virgin Islands to get help (Photo via Caribbean News Service)

December 28, 2017, BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Three flood-prone communities in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) will soon benefit from a project that will help them build resilience to that particular climate change impact.

The Establishing Flood-Resilient SMART Communities through Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) Partnerships project will target the communities of Sea Cow’s Bay and East End/Long Look on Tortola, and Great Harbour on the sister island of Jost Van Dyke.

The project is being funded through the Community Disaster Risk Reduction Fund (CDRRF), which is managed by the Caribbean Development Bank. It is a collaborative effort among the Government of the British Virgin Islands through the Department of Disaster Management (DDM), and several non-profit organisations, including the Adventist Development Relief Agency, Rotary Family of BVI, BVI Red Cross and the Jost Van Dyke Preservation Society. CDRRF funded the project to the tune of USD649,500.

 “The devastation experienced in the Caribbean during the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season is a reminder that tackling the impacts of climate change in one of the world’s most disaster-prone regions must be a matter of urgency,” said Claudia James, Project Manager, CDRRF, CDB. “CDRRF is pleased to help Borrowing Member Countries build greater resilience to these hazards, which continue to threaten the Region’s social and economic development.”

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Devastation brought out generosity, spirit of togetherness – CARICOM Chairman

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Chairman of CARICOM, Dr. the Rt Hon Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada
Chairman of CARICOM, Dr. the Rt Hon Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada

END OF YEAR MESSAGE

BY THE CHAIRMAN OF THE CARIBBEAN COMMUNITY

DR. THE HONOURABLE KEITH MITCHELL

PRIME MINISTER OF GRENADA

There is no doubt that 2017 has been a most eventful year for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).  We experienced a scale of multi-country devastation never before seen in the Region as two category five Hurricanes, Irma and Maria, raged through the Caribbean within two weeks.

The Governments and people of our Community immediately responded to assist their brothers and sisters with the generosity and spirit of togetherness which is our trademark. I therefore must pay tribute to those who so willingly extended a helping hand in the hour of need of our brothers and sisters in the stricken countries.

Even before the hurricane season was over, the resilient people that we are, we had begun to rally. We determined that we could use the rebuilding process to become the first climate resilient region in the world.  Recognising that we did not have the resources to achieve that goal on our own, we sought the assistance of the international community.

First, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), we organised the CARICOM-UN High Level Pledging Conference, “Building a More Climate-Resilient Community,” which was held in November at the UN Headquarters in New York.  It brought together nearly 400 high-level representatives from governments, multilateral and civil society organisations and the private sector, and raised more than US$1.3 billion in pledges and over $1 billion in loans and debt relief.

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CARICOM records noteworthy successes in 2017 despite challenges

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Secretary-General at the CARICOM-UN High Level Conference with the UN SG Antonio Guterres and Head of UNDP Achim Steiner
CARICOM Secretary-General Amb. Irwin LaRocque (l) at the CARICOM-UN High Level Conference with the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres (r) and Head of UNDP Achim Steiner

(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) The more than US$2B pledged at the CARICOM-UN Conference for long-term recovery for hurricane-affected countries and the establishment of the regional renewable energy center are among the successes CARICOM recorded for 2017 in spite of the year’s challenges.

Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque said in his End of Year Message that the Community was ending 2017 with several other noteworthy achievements, including a change in posture by International Financial Institutions and some Development Partners with respect to access to concessionary development financing.

“It is encouraging to note that our relentless advocacy with respect to the lack of access to concessional development financing appears to be bearing fruit. There is some re-thinking on this issue taking place at the level of the International Financial Institutions (IFIs) and some of our international development partners (IDPs),” the Secretary-General stated.

Adding that CARICOM will continue to advocate for this change he said the Region’s vulnerability to external shocks, which the hurricanes laid bare, emphasised the urgent need for the international community to dispense with GDP per capita as a primary criterion for access to concessional development financing. (more…)