‘Building back better': a resilient Caribbean after the 2017 hurricanes

Citizens in Dominica doing their part to build back better
Citizens in Dominica doing their part to build back better

‘Building back better’ after a disaster intuitively makes sense, but it is challenging and requires a deep understanding of the causes of disaster, recovery processes and future climate and other risks. Critically, it requires high levels of commitment from policymakers and technical staff in national governments, from the international aid agencies and donors supporting recovery, and from communities already engaged in recovery.

This briefing paper highlights how lessons from history and past recovery can inform decisions around ‘building back better’ after hurricanes Irma and Maria. These two Category 5 hurricanes caused total losses estimated at US$130 billion. Although the countries and communities most affected will need years to recover, decisions and actions that are taken in the short term, such as repairs to housing, will have repercussions for long-term resilience.

While disasters are a common feature of the Caribbean, there has not been much serious reflection on the types of action needed for long-term resilience. Compounding this are the looming effects of climate change. Sea-level rise, in particular, is a huge problem for the Caribbean, but we are also likely to see more Category 4 and 5 hurricanes in the future.


Read more at: Overseas Development Institute

CARICOM, China discuss strengthened cooperation in margins of CELAC Forum

Suriname’s Foreign Minister Ms Yldiz Pollack-Beighle greets China’s Foreign Minister Mr Wang Yi at the meeting
Suriname’s Foreign Minister the Hon. Yldiz Pollack-Beighle greets China’s Foreign Minister Mr. Wang Yi at the meeting

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has signalled its interest in working with China to ascertain how its goals and priorities can be best linked with existing, new and emerging development initiatives from the East Asian country.

Foreign Ministers of the nine CARICOM countries which recognise the People’s Republic of China met with their Chinese counterpart, Mr. Wang Yi,   on Sunday, 21 January, 2018, in the margins of the CELAC-China Forum (CCF) Second Ministerial Meeting that took place in Santiago, Chile, on 19-22 January, 2018.

“Concessional development funding is essential for the building of economic and climate resilience to serve as the platform for our sustainable development.” – Chair of COFCOR, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados, Senator Maxine McClean

In remarks at the meeting, Chair of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados, Senator Maxine McClean, underscored the importance CARICOM attached to the existing Caribbean-China Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum, and the Caribbean-China Consultations. The latter was held in May 2016, and is expected to take place again later this year.

Describing those consultations as “valuable mechanisms for continued dialogue and cooperation,” she said the Community also saw the One Belt, One Road initiative China announced in Santiago, as a “very important cooperation and development mechanism.” (more…)

STATEMENT ON ENSLAVEMENT OF AFRICAN MIGRANTS IN LIBYA

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The Community Council of Ministers of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), at its first sitting of 2018, expressed concern at the reports of the dehumanizing situation of African migrants in Libya being auctioned into slavery by criminal elements.

Ministers joined in solidarity with the statements made by African and European leaders at the 5th African Union-European Union Summit on 29-30 November 2017 calling for “an immediate end of these criminal practices” and with that of the United Nations Security Council on 7 December 2017 condemning “such actions as heinous abuses of human rights”.

Ministers also welcomed the statement by the Presidential Council of the Government of National Accord of Libya denouncing “slavery and human trafficking” and committing to take action against the reported crimes.

Given the history, lessons and effects of slavery, the Council underscored the need to condemn this gross violation of human rights. As stated in 2007 by then Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Dr. the Hon. Ralph Gonsalves, on the occasion of the Bicentenary of the Abolition of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, slavery should “never again be experienced in old or new forms”.

Barbados, St Vincent and the Grenadines reaffirm commitment to CARICOM

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CARICOM Solidarity (l-r) – St. Kitts-Nevis Ambassador Mr. Lionel Sydney Osborne; Haiti’s Ambassador Mr Peterson Noel; new Barbados Ambassador Ms Veronica Griffith; CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque; new St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ambassador Mr Allan Alexander; Guyana’s Ambassador Ms Charlene Phoenix and Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador Mr. Clarence Henry

The governments of Barbados and St. Vincent and the Grenadines have signaled their unequivocal commitment to integration as they assigned two new envoys to join the family of CARICOM Ambassadors on Friday 12 January.

Her Excellency Veronica Griffith, Plenipotentiary Representative of Barbados to CARICOM and His Excellency Allan Alexander, Plenipotentiary Representative of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to CARICOM were accredited by CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque in a short ceremony at the Secretariat’s headquarters in Georgetown, Guyana.

The new Barbados Ambassador said her government endorsed the words of Right Excellent Errol Barrow in his last speech to the CARICOM Heads of Government in 1989 when he advocated:

“…the absolute necessity to promote and defend the solidarity of this regional Caribbean family. And also the absolute obligation to discover those strategies and mechanisms which will ultimately lead to unity of action in all major areas of our economic, social and political life.” (more…)

Caribbean felt full brunt of climate change in 2017

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Dominica hurricane

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…)