Caribbean can only ‘build back better’ with international support, urgent climate action – UN, CARICOM Chiefs and Heads of Government

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New York, 21 November 2017 – In view of the urgent needs of Caribbean islands affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the “CARICOM-UN High-level Pledging Conference: Building a more Climate-Resilient Community ” mobilised a broad partnership to support reconstruction efforts, including through over US$1.3 billion in pledges and over $1 billion in loans and debt relief.

Support derived from nearly 400 high-level representatives from governments, multilateral and civil society organizations and the private sector gathered at UN headquarters today with the Secretaries-General of the United Nations and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to help countries to “build back better” as the first climate-resilient countries in the world

Recovery costs surpass $5billion, according to the latest needs estimates. In some cases the impact is 3.5 times countries’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP), for example in the British Virgin Islands.The principal economic sectors of tourism and agriculture have been significantly affected, according to assessments made public during the conference, organized by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) working with sister UN agencies.

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How to build back better after a hurricane with the next one a few months away

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OP-ED By Irwin LaRocque and Achim Steiner*

CARICOM SG, Irwin LaRocque
Ambassador Irwin LaRocque
Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator
Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator

 Imagine relocating the entire population of your country in the face of a colossal hurricane and two months later still not being able to get back home. Now imagine spending several nights in a shelter and taking a stroll the next morning only to find what you used to call community, city or country reduced to an apocalyptic scene.

This is no fiction. Irma and Maria, two back-to-back category 5 hurricanes, the most powerful ever recorded in the Atlantic, swept across the Caribbean in September, cutting a swathe of destruction, taking lives, devastating infrastructure and severely damaging the economies of small climate-vulnerable countries.

Entire islands were decimated, like Barbuda, the smaller of the two-island state of Antigua and Barbuda, and Dominica, both Members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands were also devastated while The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands were severely affected. Haiti and St Kitts and Nevis also suffered damage. All of the islands are Members or Associate Members of CARICOM.

The island of St Marten, divided between Sint Maarten, a constituent country of the Kingdom of Netherlands and St Martin, a dependency of France as well as Cuba and the Dominican Republic were impacted, in addition to Puerto Rico and Florida, in the United States. (more…)

Coordinated approach necessary to manage external relations – COTED hears

The importance of effectively managing the external relations of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) was strongly underscored at the opening of the 45th meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) on Thursday in Georgetown, Guyana.

Chair of the COTED, the Hon. Paula Gopie-Scoon, Trade and Industry Minister of Trinidad and Tobago,  and Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, CARICOM Secretary General referred to the current international trade climate and stressed the need for coordinated approach to external economic relations.

While many of the agenda items focus on the CARICOM Single Market and Economy, the Region’s flagship programme, and trade in goods, Ministers will place emphasis on matters such as future trade with the United Kingdom post-BREXIT; developments within the World Trade Organisation (WTO); and the state of the rum industry in CARIFORUM.

“We must remember that our strength as a Region depends on a coordinated approach to policies. This includes the external economic and trade relations of the Community which we will address during the course of this Meeting”, Minister Gopie-Scoon said at the opening session.

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Irma, Harvey, Maria and beyond: We need to talk about finance

Devastation in Dominica

Heavy-hitting and repeated cyclones in the Caribbean, intense and devastating flooding across South Asia – and this in just the last few weeks. Unabated, unmanaged disaster risk is wreaking havoc across our planet, killing, destroying and setting back progress.

A few months ago, not far away from where Harvey, Irma and Maria touched land, a key international conference took place in Cancun – the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, which ended with a call for all countries to “systematically account for disaster losses by 2020”, a critical baseline to assess progress, challenges and opportunities ahead.

Several weeks earlier, Robert Glasser, the U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), and Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, blogged that “disasters – 90 percent of which are classed as climate-related – now cost the world economy US$520 billion per year and push 26 million people into poverty every year”.

Read more at: Zilient.org

Hurricane Irma damage in the British Virgin Islands
Hurricane Irma damage in the British Virgin Islands