Caribbean’s new disaster risk awards

Source(s): United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction – Regional Office for the Americas and the Caribbean
Mr.  Adriel Brathwaite, Chairman of the CDEMA Council of Ministers (right), presents the award to Mr. Jeremy Collymore, former Executive Director, CDEMA (centre), alongside its current Executive Director, Mr. Ronald Jackson (left)
Mr. Adriel Brathwaite, Chairman of the CDEMA Council of Ministers (right), presents the award to Mr. Jeremy Collymore, former Executive Director, CDEMA (centre), alongside its current Executive Director, Mr. Ronald Jackson (left)

PANAMA, 18 January, 2016 - The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) has launched an awards scheme for 2016 which seeks to support national and regional efforts to reduce disaster loss and the impacts of climate change.

CDEMA includes some of the most disaster prone small island States in the world, exposed to sea-level rise, storm surges, flooding and landslides during the Atlantic Hurricane Season and situated in the so-called Ring of Fire with its network of active seismic fault lines and volcanoes.

A comprehensive approach to disaster management has long been pioneered by the former director of CDEMA, Mr. Jeremy Collymore, and this has now been recognized with the creation of the Jeremy Collymore Award for Research in Disaster Response and Disaster Risk Management.

In December, Mr. Collymore received CDEMA’s highest award at the 9th Caribbean Conference on Comprehensive Disaster Management held in Nassau, the Bahamas. The CDEMA Council Award was bestowed upon Mr. Collymore for his dedication and commitment to the advancement of Comprehensive Disaster Management throughout the region and globally.

Mr. Collymore, currently an Honorary Research Fellow at the Institute of Sustainable Development, University of the West Indies, said: "My work in Disaster Risk Management has always been driven by commitment to the improvement of preparedness planning for the hazards we face, a better understanding of them and the development of systems and capacity to manage these. Whilst we have made significant improvement in preparedness, there is still much work to be done on this and the risk management side.”

With over 30 years of continuous contribution to the evolution of Disaster Risk Management (DRM) in the Caribbean region, he has been a tireless advocate, visionary and activist for cross-cutting issues related to the promotion of a culture of safety and community resilience, especially with respect to climate variability, change and adaptation in the CDEMA Participating States.

The cross-sectoral approach to disaster risk management adopted by CDEMA is reflected in the new awards focus which go beyond recognising outstanding service to acknowledge the important roles played by the media and the private sector.

At the conference opening, the former Prime Minister of Jamaica, Mr. PJ Patterson said that 2015 “had been a watershed year in the international arena with respect to the setting of a global agenda for resilience.” He stressed the importance of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, adopted in March 2015,  to the Caribbean States and its 40 million inhabitants.

"The Sendai Framework is the first major agreement of the Post-2015 development agenda and seeks, through its four priorities for action and seven targets, to build on and enhance efforts to foster the resilience of nations to disasters which was begun under the Hyogo Framework for Action, " Mr. Patterson said. The Sendai Framework sets targets for the reduction of disaster risk and substantial reductions in mortality, numbers of people affected, economic losses and damage to critical infrastructure.

Mr. Patterson referred to the losses suffered in Dominica and the Bahamas during the 2015 hurricane season and said: “We have great cause to be concerned about the effects of climate change; rising sea levels which threaten our coastal developments, and devastate our agricultural production; more severe tropical storms which can eradicate years of hard work in a few short hours; and proliferation of tropical diseases.”

A working session on the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, led by UNISDR’s head of regional office for the Americas, Mr. Ricardo Mena, focused on key elements as well as the process for developing the related indicators and terminology. The linkages to the CDM strategy as well as global agendas on climate change and sustainable development were highlighted.

The Conference also unveiled two new initiatives, which included the Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Framework for the region’s Comprehensive Disaster Management trategy 2014-2024 and the baseline study.

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