Today is International Day for Disaster reduction – Is this year’s string of hurricanes a sign of things to come?

Codrington, Barbuda after Hurricane Irma  (Photo via UN)

Joint Op-Ed by 

Achim Steiner is Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme

Patricia Espinosa is Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change

Robert Glasser is the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction and head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction


From Miami and Puerto Rico to Barbuda and Havana, the devastation of this year’s hurricane season across Latin America and the Caribbean serves as a reminder that the impacts of climate change know no borders.

In recent weeks, Category 5 hurricanes have brought normal life to a standstill for millions in the Caribbean and on the American mainland. HarveyIrma and Maria have been particularly damaging. The 3.4 million inhabitants of Puerto Rico have been scrambling for basic necessities including food and water, the island of Barbuda has been rendered uninhabitable, and dozens of people are missing or dead on the UNESCO world heritage island of Dominica.

The impact is not confined to this region. The record floods across Bangladesh, India and Nepal have made life miserable for some 40 million people.  More than 1,200 people have died and many people have lost their homes, crops have been destroyed, and many workplaces have been inundated. Meanwhile, in Africa, over the last 18 months 20 countries have declared drought emergencies, with major displacement taking place across the Horn region.

For those countries that are least developed the impact of disasters can be severe, stripping away livelihoods and progress on health and education; for developed and middle-income countries the economic losses from infrastructure alone can be massive; for both, these events reiterate the need to act on a changing climate that threatens only more frequent and more severe disasters.

Read more at Thomson Reuters Foundation

Message by the CARICOM Secretary-General on Caribbean Statistics Day







15 OCTOBER 2017



CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque
CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque

This year’s observance takes place against the background of another significant achievement for Regional Statistics. CARICOM Heads of Government at their Thirty-Eighth Regular Meeting (July 2017) endorsed the preparation of a Regional Strategy for the Development of Statistics (RSDS) in CARICOM.  The endorsement of the RSDS initiative is in addition to their endorsement of the Action Plan for Statistics at their Thirty-Seventh Regular Meeting in 2016.

 These decisions on Statistics at the highest level of the Community reaffirm the recognition of the vital role of statistics in the development of the Region.   It is in this spirit that the National Statistical Offices of Member States agreed that the 2016 theme – “Improving the Lives of People – Advancing the Action Plan for Statistics in CARICOM”   should remain as the theme for this year’s observance of Caribbean Statistics Day.

CARICOM countries continue to face increasing demands for statistics that must be timely and reliable.  Evidenced-based decision-making is important in enabling the socio-economic development of countries and for the efficient management and use of resources. In particular, given the environmental concerns faced by CARICOM countries as Small Island and low lying coastal Developing States (SIDS), the timely dissemination of high quality statistics facilitates national policy development, planning and the monitoring and evaluation required for the achievement of successful outcomes. The importance of access to reliable data is a key factor in the recovery and rehabilitation efforts following natural disasters such as the recent Hurricanes Irma and Maria. (more…)

PAHO/WHO confirms St. Kitts and Nevis has eliminated mother-to-child transmission of HIV

Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis
Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis
“I feel a sense of personal pride and satisfaction that St. Kitts and Nevis is a leader in this aspect.” – PM of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. the Hon Timothy Harris
BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) –In August of this year, Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris announced to the country that St. Kitts and Nevis was on par to becoming the first country in the Organisation of the Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), CARICOM, and the Americas, outside of Cuba, to bring an end to mother-to-child transmission with respect to HIV.

That assertion has since been validated by the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in a communiqué addressed to the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis.

The WHO describes mother-to-child transmission of HIV as the spread of HIV from an HIV-infected woman to her child during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding. (more…)

Effects of climate change in focus at Agriculture Meeting

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The detrimental effect of climate change on the Region was brought in to sharp focus as a special Meeting of Agriculture Ministers got underway at the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat in Georgetown, Guyana, on Friday.

At the opening of the 71st Special Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic development (COTED), Chairman, His Excellency Soeresh Algoe, Agriculture Minister of Suriname, the Hon.Noel Holder, Minister of Agriculture of Guyana, and Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, CARICOM Secretary-General, spoke of the responses that were necessary to confront climate change.

The Meeting is being held as the Region is dealing with the impact of two category five hurricanes. Hurricane Irma devastated Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands, Anguilla, St. Maarten,  and St. Barts, It significantly damaged The Bahamas and Haiti, and affected St. Kitts and Nevis. Hurricane Maria left massive destruction in Dominica. The agriculture sectors in Barbuda and Dominica were decimated. (more…)

Greater resilience necessary to confront ‘new normal’ – CARICOM Secretary-General at agriculture meeting

CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, makes remarks at the Opening of the 71st Special Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) Agriculture, at the CARICOM Secretariat, Georgetown, Guyana.
CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, makes remarks at the Opening of the 71st Special Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) Agriculture, at the CARICOM Secretariat, Georgetown, Guyana.

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.

Delegates at the opening of the Meeting
Delegates at the opening of the Meeting