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…)

CARICOM eyes key outcomes from UN climate change talks

(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) Mitigating climate risks and building resilience against extreme weather events underpin key areas of focus for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) during the ongoing United Nations (UN) climate talks in Bonn, Germany.

The Twenty Third Meeting of the Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 23) is being held from 6-17 November under the presidency of Fiji.

pm slu chair sg
Briefing: (l-r) Hon. Allen Chastanet, Prime Minister of Saint Lucia and Lead CARICOM Head on Sustainable Development; CARICOM Chairman and Prime Minister of Grenada Dr. Keith Mitchell and CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque

This year’s climate talks mark the first time a member of the Alliance for Small Island States (AOSIS) has held the Presidency. It presents an important opportunity for CARICOM and the wider Small Island Developing States (SIDs) to influence the global climate change agenda. (more…)

CARICOM Heads to tackle key development issues at Belize Meeting

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Advancing the Regional response to the Zika threat will be among matters engaging Caribbean Community CARICOM Heads of Government at their 27th Inter-Sessional meeting in Placencia, Belize, 16-17 February.

The Heads are also expected to focus on measures to position the Region to benefit from the historic Paris Agreement on Climate Change, including access to climate finance.

The Belize meeting comes a fortnight after the World Health Organisation declared Zika as a ‘public health emergency of international concern’.  The suspected Zika link to cases of microcephaly in parts of Latin America, with babies born with underdeveloped brains, has also heightened public concern about the virus.  At least five CARICOM Member States have diagnosed cases of the Zika virus. The Caribbean Regional Public Health Agency (CARPHA), which has been providing testing and prevention and control guidance to Member States, is expected to help the Meeting determine the future actions in the Zik-V fight.

The Meeting also gives the CARICOM Heads of Government an opportunity to build on the favourable outcome, from last December’s COP 21 Paris Climate Change conference, for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) which include CARICOM Member States.  (more…)