All hands needed on deck for post-hurricane recovery – WB Meeting hears

Statement on High Level Meeting on Recovery and Resilience in the Caribbean

The participants highlighted the need for a response involving all partners, including regional organizations, development partners, private sector, national Governments and civil society, to leverage comparative advantages for building resilience to disasters in highly vulnerable small-island states, as extreme weather events have added to their existing economic vulnerabilities. The contribution of the private sector will also be critical, offering both resources and expertise.
Washington, October 13th, 2017– Leaders and representatives of CARICOM countries and territories, and international partners, including the international financial institutions, and the representatives of territories in the region, convened (Friday) in a high-level round table on recovery and resilience in the Caribbean hosted by the World Bank Group (WBG), as part of the WBG-IMF Annual Meetings.

During the discussion, participants examined the impact of and recovery from the destructive hurricanes that struck the Caribbean in September, reviewed the instruments available for disaster risk management and response, and considered the need to innovate further in order to address the long-term challenges and strengthen resilience of affected islands.

Participants expressed solidarity and support to the affected islands and communities, and reaffirmed their commitment to working together to build back better and in a more resilient way, following the devastation caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria. They highlighted the need to ensure active engagement of communities, especially women, in the recovery and reconstruction process, as well as the importance of putting in place building standards that will mitigate the impact of future extreme weather events. The participants also noted the importance of making progress on the World Bank’s Small States Roadmap which proposes various initiatives to promote resilience of small states. (more…)

Caribbean storms show urgency of rethinking aid for small island states

Aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Tortola, BVIs (Photo via OECS)
Aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Tortola, BVIs (Photo via OECS)

A series of devastating storms in the Caribbean has highlighted the vulnerability of small island states, where a single hurricane can undo years of development and plunge prosperous households into poverty from one day to the next.

Hurricane Irma turned 90 percent of homes on Barbuda to rubble and left financial losses of USD 100-200 million. Hurricane Maria has knocked out power to the entire US territory of Puerto Rico.

For most developed countries, a natural disaster triggers action from national governments to provide emergency relief and compensation – witness the recent emergency spending provided by the US Congress following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. But unlocking emergency funds is not always straightforward for small island developing states, not all of which have easy access to capital markets. Small island states often have high public debt ratios and insurance coverage among households and businesses can be limited.

Grenada is still paying the consequences of being hit successively in 2004 and 2005 by Hurricanes Ivan and Emily. Estimated losses amounted to 200 percent of gross domestic product, and Grenada is still in “debt distress” according to the International Monetary Fund. The Cook Islands are still subject to austerity measures under a 1998 debt restructuring agreement prompted by the reconstruction costs that followed Cyclone Martin two decades ago.

Read more at: Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development

EU wants to advance common agenda with CARICOM in global fora

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GEORGETOWN, GUYANA, CARICOM SECRETARIAT –  The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) on Wednesday 15 March, 2017, accredited a new Ambassador of the European Union (EU), with the new envoy advocating for the relationship to more effectively advance a common agenda in global and multilateral fora.

In presenting her letters of credence to the CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, Her Excellency Daniela Tramacere pledged that in the face of “populism on both shores of the Atlantic,” the EU will continue to foster political dialogue with the Region.

The new EU Ambassador was accredited at a simple ceremony in the office of the Secretary-General at the Headquarters of the CARICOM Secretariat in Georgetown, Guyana. The CARICOM Secretary-General expressed the Community’s profound appreciation to the EU for decades of technical cooperation and assistance to regional development in critical areas. He noted that the various programmes initiated under the European Development Fund framework had been of immense benefit to CARICOM Member States.

Ambassador Tramacere said that building on the process which established the ambitious December 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change, CARICOM and the EU should pursue a new multilateral political partnership to address global challenges.

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CARICOM prepares positions on imminent UN oceans agreement

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Senior environment officials from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) met recently in Belize as CARICOM rationalises its position on the United Nations (UN) process to establish an international legally binding agreement on sustainable use of marine resources.

The two-day workshop held 20-22 February 2017, in Belize City, Belize, was titled, ‘CARICOM Regional Workshop on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity beyond Areas of National Jurisdiction’.

Foreign Minister of Belize, the Hon. Wilfred Elrington, addressing the opening, said that CARICOM Member States had championed the negotiation and adoption of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS), which was opened for signature in Jamaica. He also reminded that when the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea was constituted, two CARICOM citizens – Edward Laing of Belize and Dolliver Nelson of Grenada, joined the ranks of the first 21 Members of the Tribunal.

“Judge Laing and Judge Nelson are no longer with us, but they, together with other key jurists from our Region, including the sitting Judge Anthony Amos Lucky of Trinidad and Tobago, have left a legacy on the international stage that is definitive of our Region’s commitment to uphold the law of the sea.

“We have now been called upon to address an area of the law of the sea that has not been adequately provided for in the UNCLOS, whether for want of scientific knowledge, implementation, or as a result of governance and legal gaps,” he said.

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Financing SDGs a major concern for CARICOM

CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. (Photo via UN/JC McIlwaine)
CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. (Photo via UN/JC McIlwaine)

(United Nations Radio) Ensuring financing so that they can meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is among the top concerns for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the man leading the regional bloc has said.

Secretary-General Irwin LaRocque said the organisation also wants the Region to be counted as a distinct group when it comes to measuring statistical progress towards the 17 goals.

The SDGs aim to eradicate extreme poverty, promote greater equality and protect the planet.

Caribbean countries are considered Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

The UN says these nations face similar challenges in achieving sustainable development, including small domestic markets, high energy costs, and little resistance to natural disasters.

Dianne Penn caught up with Mr LaRocque who is in New York for the UN General Assembly which concludes on Monday.
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