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Opening Remarks by Elizabeth Riley, CDEMA, Deputy Executive Director (Ag) at the launch of the 2011 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction

Chairman, The Honourable Adriel Brathwaite, Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs, Government of Barbados,

Ms. Michelle Gyles-McDonnough, UN Resident Coordinator/UN Resident Representative;

Mr Juan Pablo Sarmiento, Florida International University,

Mr Andrew Maskrey, Coordinator Global Assessment Report

Representatives of national, regional and international organizations, representatives of the media, partners in Comprehensive Disaster Management:

Good morning, on behalf of Mr. Jeremy Collymore, the Executive Director of the CDEMA Coordinating Unit, it is a pleasure to deliver brief remarks at this the Caribbean Launch of the 2011 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the key findings of the 2011 report are instructive. As we at the CDEMA Coordinating Unit reflected on the six emerging themes, we identified numerous areas which could provoke comment in the context of our system. For the purposes of this event, however, I am sure that you will be pleased that we have limited these to three.

First – the observation that the Caribbean Region remains a leader.

The Caribbean Region has taken the lead in recognizing and framing the inextricable link between Disaster Risk Management and sustainable development. It is of note that the principles, processes and plans of action of the Hyogo Framework for Action reinforce the Comprehensive Disaster Management philosophy of an all hazards, all sectors approach which emphasizes the integration of disaster risk consideration into development planning.

This region continues to be on the front line of the resilience agenda – deepening partnership management; establishing the enabling environment for advancing CDM at the national level, broadening and intensifying stake holder participation including through the CDM Governance Mechanism; laying the foundation for investment and supporting  disaster risk management mainstreaming at the sector level; framing action for Climate Change Adaptation and in so doing addressing DRM, up scaling of capacity for response and fostering the cultural shift towards greater accountability in our decision making. In other words, we are heading in the right direction, but we recognize that there is still much more to be done.

The second comment is that Global and Caribbean risk trends are in closer alignment.

The rise in economic losses against declining mortality at the global level now mirrors what has long been a reality in our region. In this regard, the experience of Saint Lucia - Hurricane Tomas in 2010 is instructive. This event resulted in US$336   Million in damage, an impact representing 43.4% of GDP. Some may even suggest that thresholds for loss seem to be lower and are likely linked to the rapid growth of asset exposure. Country specific risk profiling is therefore a necessity and the CDEMA System is making efforts to rectify this gap.

Even as we work towards a better understanding of the risk drivers in our region, it is critical that we do not reverse the gains that we have made in the areas of early warning, preparedness and response. These remain core functions within our mandate and in this regard, the recent discontinuation of traditional resources for the training of meteorological personnel in the region, notwithstanding the legitimacy of the reasoning, is worrisome and requires urgent collective attention from our regional governments and development partners.

This leads me to the third and final comment: Up-scaling Disaster Risk Management demands a cultural shift.

One key element of this is embracing accountability. In this regard, we are pleased to indicate that the Caribbean region’s involvement in the in HFA Monitor piloting and reporting has shown significant improvement moving from 4 reports in 2009 to 11 in 2011. This represents a 75% increase in responses over the previous reporting period. We wish to congratulate the States within the CDEMA System for this effort and anticipate that for the next reporting period, the Caribbean representation fueled by CDEMA led rationalization of reporting requirements will be even stronger.

The cultural shift extends to the reformation of risk governance. Appropriate political placement of Disaster Risk Management has long been a part of the messaging of the CDEMA System. This becomes particularly urgent when we acknowledge the role of climate variability as the first step towards adaptation considerations. National governance arrangements will be instrumental in determining the real benefits of financial inflows under this umbrella.

In closing, we must note that the theme of this biennium’s report is very relevant for our region. Hazard impacts continue to reveal our risk and necessitate the redefinition of our development. The proposed review of the CDM Strategy over the next year presents an opportunity for framing our special needs in the Mid-term review of the HFA. States will therefore need to closely monitor and engage in this exercise.

Let me end by express thanks to our UN partners for the opportunity to share a perspective from the CDEMA System and look forward to an engaging and results focused dialogue.

I thank you.



CDEMA Annual Reports