Hurricanes Irma, Maria a hint of what the future holds- CARICOM SG

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Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque (c) flanked by (from left) General Counsel Corlita Babb-Schaefer, Deputy Secretary-General Ambassador Manorma Soeknandan, Assistant Secretary-General Dr Douglas Slater, and Assistant Secretary-General Mr Joseph Cox.

Secretary-General (SG) of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Ambassador Irwin LaRocque warned that Hurricanes Irma and Maria which devastated many countries in the Region last year were “a hint at what the future holds”.

Speaking at the opening of a meeting with the Heads of Institutions of the Community at the Marriott Hotel, Georgetown, Guyana on Monday, the Secretary-General noted that the long-term forecasts for climatic activity in the Region were even “more foreboding as the effects of climate change become more pronounced.”

The meeting was aimed at strengthening the co-ordination among the Institutions and the Secretariat as the Community builds resilience to encounter the new normal of more intense and frequent climatic activity. A review of the preparedness and management of the response to the events of last September has been undertaken by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) to glean lessons learnt.

Ambassador LaRocque pointed out that “we are in a race against time to protect the people, the environment and our countries. Strategic efforts must be harnessed to build resilience in the Region.”

Recognising that there already was in place a Comprehensive Disaster Management framework, he stressed that it was imperative that “we pool our skills and resources to make it work.”

The Secretary-General also alluded to the foresight of the Community’s five-year Strategic Plan which focussed on building resilience – environmentally, technologically, socially and economically.

“That shows we were right on target with our priorities,” he stated. The life of that Plan ends in December 2019 and the process to develop the new plan from 2020 will be discussed at today’s meeting.

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