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…)

Spain commits to post-hurricane economic recovery in CARICOM

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The Caribbean Community’s (CARICOM) advocacy for resilient reconstruction within its Member States that were affected by the recent hurricanes, was positively acknowledged by the Government of Spain on Tuesday, 17 October, 2017.

A newly accredited Plenipotentiary Representative of the Spain to CARICOM, His Excellency Javier Carbajosa Sanchez, said his country “will certainly contribute through the institutional channels already established, to promote economic recovery.” This is in light of the loss of live and material damage cause by hurricanes Irma and Maria.

He was at the time presenting his letter of credence to the CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, at the CARICOM Secretariat headquarters in Georgetown Guyana. (more…)

Hurricane response: Excellent work by CDEMA, other CARICOM institutions, international partners

Caribbean Community (CARICOM) teams and disaster response mechanisms were mobilised and activated in response to the hurricanes that swept through the Region recently.

A letter issued by the Secretariat to the Stabroek News in response to an editorial published on 25 September, 2017, detailed the “the excellent work” carried out by CARICOM institution, Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency CDEMA, other regional institutions and the international partners “in the face of dangerous and difficult conditions as they confront an unprecedented multi-country catastrophe.”

The letter pointed to the Community’s action before and after the storms hit.

“The Caribbean Community through its various agencies, led by CDEMA, has been the first responders on the ground assessing, rendering relief, evacuating the ill and infirm and performing the tasks associated with post Hurricane efforts,” the letter pointed out.

Please read Response to the Stabroek News editorial of 25 September 2017 entitled ‘Hurricane Relief’

CARICOM Chairman, Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell (2nd right) and his high-level delegation to hurricane-ravaged Dominica, met with Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit (3rd right) on 26 september. Other members of the delegation were (from right) CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, President of the CDB Dr Warren Smith, Barbados Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite, Executive Director CDEMA Ronald Jackson
CARICOM Chairman, Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell (2nd right) and his high-level delegation to hurricane-ravaged Dominica, met with Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit (3rd right) on 26 september. Other members of the delegation were (from right) CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, President of the CDB Dr Warren Smith, Barbados Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite, Executive Director CDEMA Ronald Jackson