This week, more than 500 delegates from 20 Caribbean countries will be gathering in Bridgetown to discuss priorities and solutions to tackle climate and disaster risks at the Understanding Risk (UR) Caribbean conference. The conference is organized by the World Bank in partnership with the government of Barbados, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and the European Union (EU), under the auspices of Prime Minister Mia Mottley.
“Understanding a problem is the first step to solving it. Today’s Understanding Risk conference is an opportunity to renew our commitment to work together across the Caribbean and across institutions, to invest in preparedness and build resilience in taking a 360-degree approach to resilience. This means: investing in better preparedness; stronger infrastructure; more fiscal buffers for difficult times; strengthened social safety nets; and opportunities to better manage the Caribbean region’s natural resources,” said Tahseen Sayed, World Bank Director for the Caribbean.
During the week-long conference, three regional programs supporting Caribbean countries to plan for long-term resilience and climate-smart growth strategies will be launched, including the Caribbean Regional Resilience Building Facility and the Technical Assistance Program for Disaster Risk Financing and Insurance in Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories financed by the European Union, as well as the Canada Caribbean Resilience Facility financed by the Government of Canada.
The $31 million Caribbean Regional Resilience Building Facility will support 15 Caribbean countries by providing technical assistance to mainstream resilience, leveraging investments to reduce vulnerability, and expanding financial protection against disasters.
The second EU funded program provides $3.4 million to support Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) in assessing their financial exposure to disasters, the feasibility of participating in insurance mechanisms, and to share knowledge among OCTs.
The US$15.2 million “Canada Caribbean Resilience Facility (CRF)” will boost capacity in nine Caribbean countries to achieve more effective and coordinated disaster preparedness, recovery and resilience building, and public financial management practices. The facility will be managed by the World Bank’s Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR).
“Natural disasters in the Caribbean region have become increasingly intense in the face of climate change. Now more than ever, there is an urgency to support island nation states in their effort to build a more resilient future. The World Bank is committed to this long-term partnership of bringing the best global know how to the region,” said Anna Wellenstein, Director of Strategy and Operations, Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience Global Practice, World Bank.
The Understanding Risk Caribbean Conference provides an opportunity to bring together disaster risk management practitioners with governments, urban planners, insurance industry stakeholders, private sector organizations, academia, multilateral development banks, and other regional partners to collectively take action to address and reduce disaster risk. It will feature demonstrations hosted by institutions and organizations such as the University of the West Indies, Harvard University, NASA, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, to name a few.
“The event is timely as it comes at a juncture when the Caribbean region is currently engaged in articulating a Resilience Pathway in the face of the known challenges, threats and uncertainties associated with Climate Change,” said Ronald Jackson, Executive Director, CDEMA.
“CDEMA sees the event as an opportunity to continue its efforts in the engagement of the Caribbean Community for a more focused investment in the reduction of vulnerability exposure, through a better understanding of risk and through intentional action aimed at tackling the underlying risk drivers.”
The dialogues and activities occurring during the UR Caribbean conference will lay the foundation for the decisions and actions to be taken during the 11th Caribbean Conference on Comprehensive Disaster Management (CDM) hosted by CDEMA that will take place towards the end of the year.