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…)

Seize opportunity to help hurricane-hit countries build back better – CARICOM SG

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Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Member States must seize the opportunity to help the countries that were devastated by the recent hurricanes to build back better and become the first climate-resilient nations in the world.

CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, delivered this charge in remarks he made at the opening of the Forty-Fifth Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) at the Marriott Hotel in Georgetown, Guyana, Thursday morning.

The impact of the hurricanes wrought on some CARICOM Member States and Associate Members  have affected various sectors including agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, housing, infrastructure, energy, and communications. The impact has also caused ripple effects across the Region, given the level of integration, the Secretary-General pointed out.

See more photos here (more…)

 

Grenada supports Barbados’ call for new vulnerability index

In the wake of the recent hurricane devastation suffered by the Caribbean, Grenada is supporting calls made by Barbados for a new vulnerability index to determine the region’s eligibility for concessional aid.

Grenada Minister of Tourism the Hon. Clarice Modeste-Curwen
Grenada Minister of Tourism the Hon. Clarice Modeste-Curwen

Immediately following the passage of Hurricane Maria last month, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart had appealed directly to the international community for such support, saying “we are vulnerable countries in this region, and assessing us on the basis of how our economies are doing at any particular time is misleading because all of our gains can be wiped out in a few hours by a serious hurricane as is now the case with Dominica; as was the case some years ago with Grenada, Jamaica and others.

“Therefore, when we talk about vulnerability and the use of a vulnerability index to determine our eligibility for concessional aid, that is what we are talking about and Hurricane Maria makes the point more eloquently than any of us could have made it,” he said at the time.

In echoing pretty much the same sentiment last night, Grenada’s minister of tourism Clarice Modeste-Curwen told the opening of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation’s State of the Tourism Industry Conference at the Grenada Radisson Hotel that the recent spate of superstorms – including Irma, which wreaked havoc on Anguilla, Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands and St Martin -– was proof enough that the threat of global warming is real.

Read more at: Barbados Today

UN SG visit to Barbuda and Dominica

Over the weekend United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Antonio Guterres visited Antigua and Dominica which were flattened by Category Five hurricanes last month.

Please see highlights of the Secretary-General’s visit to Barbuda on Saturday, 7 October, and Dominica on Sunday, 8 October.

CARICOM ramps up advocacy for climate change financing (with video report)

New Austrian envoy to CARICOM, Her Excellency Marianne Feldman and CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque
New Austrian envoy to CARICOM, Her Excellency Marianne Feldman and CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque

The unparalleled destruction in CARICOM Member States by hurricanes Irma and Maria has heightened the urgency to advocate for meaningful assistance to mitigate the effects of extreme weather events.

Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, was poignant in emphasising to a new Ambassador of Austria, Her Excellency Marianne Feldmann, whom he accredited on Wednesday, 4 October, there was no doubt “climate change is here.”

In his remarks at the ceremony at the CARICOM Secretariat Headquarters in Georgetown, Guyana, Secretary-General LaRocque recalled that Hurricane Irma devastated, Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands, and Anguilla, as well as St. Maarten and St. Barts. He noted that it caused significant damage in The Bahamas and affected St. Kitts and Nevis. Ten deaths were confirmed and a losses were pegged at US$2B according to preliminary estimates.

Just over two weeks later, Maria struck Dominica and left in its wake 27 confirmed deaths and more than 30 people missing. The scale of the devastation in Dominica was conveyed by massive destruction to property. More than 95 per cent of the island’s buildings were damaged or destroyed. The island’s agriculture sector and its lush rainforest were decimated. The cost of the damage in Dominica alone could run into billions of dollars.

Please see more photos of the Accreditation Ceremony 
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