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Caribbean Rolls Out Plans to Reduce Climate Change Hazards

Dr. Mark Bynoe, senior environment and resource economist with the Belize-based Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC). Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

Dr. Mark Bynoe, senior environment and resource economist with the Belize-based Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC). Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

Climate change remains inextricably linked to the challenges of disaster risk reduction (DRR). And according to the head of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), Robert Glasser, the reduction of greenhouse gases is “the single most urgent global disaster risk treatment”.

Glasser was addressing the Fifth Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in the Americas. Held recently in Montreal, the gathering included more than 1,000 delegates from 50 countries, including the Caribbean.

“We recognise that reducing greenhouse gas emissions is arguably the single most urgent global disaster risk treatment, because without those efforts our other efforts to reduce many hazards and the risks those pose to communities would be overwhelmed over the longer term,” Glasser said.

The conference, hosted by the Canadian government in cooperation with UNISDR marked the first opportunity for governments and stakeholders of the Americas to discuss and agree on a Regional Action Plan to support the implementation of the Sendai Framework for DRR 2015-2030.

The Sendai Framework is the first major agreement of the post-2015 development agenda, with seven targets and four priorities for action. It was endorsed by the UN General Assembly following the 2015 Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR). The Framework is a 15-year, voluntary non-binding agreement which recognises that the state has the primary role to reduce disaster risk but that responsibility should be shared with other stakeholders including local government, the private sector and other stakeholders.

“The regional plan of action you will adopt . . . will help and guide national and local governments in their efforts to strengthen the links between the 2030 agenda for Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction as national and local DRR strategies are developed and further refined in line with the Sendai Framework priorities over the next four years,” Glasser said.

The Caribbean is a minute contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions but will be among the most severely impacted.

The region is already experiencing its impacts with more frequent extreme weather events such as the 2013 rain event in the Eastern Caribbean, extreme drought across the region with severe consequences in several countries; the 2005 flooding in Guyana and Belize in 2010.

Inaction for the Caribbean region is very costly. An economic analysis focused on three areas – increased hurricane damages, loss of tourism revenue and infrastructure – revealed damages could cost the region 10.7 billion dollars by 2025. That’s more than the combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of all the member countries of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

At the Montreal conference, Head of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) Ronald Jackson was a panelist in a forum discussing the linkages between disaster risk reduction, climate change and sustainable development. He said the region needs to marry its indigenous solutions to disaster risk management with modern technology.

“We’ve recognised that in the old days, our fore parents…had to deal with flood conditions and they survived them very well. There were simple things in terms of how they pulled their beds and other valuables out of the flood space in the house in particular. This contributed to their surviving the storms with minimal loss,” Jackson said.

“That knowledge of having to face those adverse conditions and surviving them and coping through them and being able to bounce back to where they were before, that was evident in our society in the past. It has subsequently disappeared.”

CDEMA is a regional inter-governmental agency for disaster management in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). The Agency was established in 1991 with primary responsibility for the coordination of emergency response and relief efforts to participating states that require such assistance.

Another regional agency, the Belize-based Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) is collaborating with other agencies on the Caribbean Risk Management Initiative (CRMI).

The CRMI aims to provide a platform for sharing the experiences and lessons learned between different sectors across the Caribbean in order to facilitate improved disaster risk reduction.

“We see disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation as two sides of the same coin because to the extent we are able to enhance disaster risk reduction we are also beginning to adapt to climate change,” Dr. Mark Bynoe, the CCCCC’s senior environment and resource economist said.

He explained that there are a range of activities carried out specifically in terms of climate adaptation that will also have a disaster risk reduction element.

“We are looking at enhancing water security within a number of our small island states. One of the things we are focusing on there is largely to produce quality water through the use of reverse osmosis systems but we’re utilizing a renewable energy source. So, on the one hand we are also addressing adaptation and mitigation.”

Meantime, CCCCC’s Deputy Director Dr. Ulric Trotz said the agency is rolling out a series of training workshops in 10 countries to share training tools that were developed with the aim of assisting in the generation of scientific information and analysis to help in making informed decisions. These include the Weather Generator (WG), the Tropical Storm Model/ Simple Model for the Advection of Storms and Hurricanes (SMASH), and the Caribbean Drought Assessment Tool (CARiDRO).

The training will target key personnel whose focus are in areas of agriculture, water resources, coastal zone management, health, physical planning or disaster risk reduction.

“The CARIWIG [Caribbean Weather Impacts Group] tool is a critical tool in that it more or less localizes the projection so that for instance, you can actually look at climate projections for the future in a watershed in St. Kitts and Nevis. It localizes that information and it makes it much more relevant to the local circumstance,” said Dr. Trotz.

Training and application of the tools will allow decision-makers to better understand the potential impacts of drought, tropical storms, and rainfall and temperature changes. When combined with other data and information, they can help to build a picture of potential impacts to key economic sectors in the various countries.

Credit: Inter Press Service News Agency

CDB advances climate change and disaster risk management of member countries

CBD’s Vice President of Operations Patricia McKenzie shared some camera time with Steven Hillier (2nd Left), Disaster Risk Reduction Adviser of the Department For International Development of the United Kingdom. Also in photo are Ronald Jackson, Executive Director of CDEMA, and Andrew Dupigny (right), Acting Director of Projects at CDB

CBD’s Vice President of Operations Patricia McKenzie shared some camera time with Steven Hillier (2nd Left), Disaster Risk Reduction Adviser of the Department For International Development of the United Kingdom. Also in photo are Ronald Jackson, Executive Director of CDEMA, and Andrew Dupigny (right), Acting Director of Projects at CDB

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) agenda for reducing risks and building resilience in the region got a much-needed boost recently. Twenty-three disaster risk management and community development professionals from 15 countries gathered at the headquarters of Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) for an intensive five-day workshop on project design and implementation organised by Community Disaster Risk Reduction Fund (CDRRF).

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the workshop, CDB’s vice president for operations emphasised the need for a broader reach and deepened relations with borrowing member countries (BMCs).

“We want to optimise the facility provided by CDRRF to assist in building capabilities at the community level. We see the need for CDRRF when we consider the fact that communities can be affected extensively by the impact of natural hazards. That they can be displaced, experience disruption in livelihoods and even have security and personal safety reduced. The need to help build community resilience becomes quite evident. CDB is keen on consolidating its relationship with BMCs,” stated Patricia McKenzie.

CDB’s commitment to strengthening national mechanisms for community resilience building was bolstered by the synergies created with the support of international development partners with a shared vision for the region. The harmonisation has resulted in increased investments in initiatives for disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation (CCA).

The region’s disaster management agency echoed those sentiments.

“Communities are the first line of defence in preventing disasters. It is, therefore, essential to deepen engagement beyond disaster management offices. There is an urgent need to participate with community actors to reduce risks and build capacity and resilience,” noted Ronald Jackson, executive director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).

He went on to make a case for more targeted investments in CCA.

“The Caribbean accounts for less than one percent of greenhouse emissions yet most climate change-related projects are heavily concentrated on energy emissions. Resources must be more effectively used. Focus must be shifted to dealing with the every-day present and future risks to lives and livelihoods. Strengthened and sustained community resilience is one of the key priority areas within the comprehensive disaster management strategy. It is an area in which CDEMA has made significant investments in the past and continues to support based on requests from member states,” Jackson said.

The aim of the workshop, which was facilitated by David Logan, was to broaden participant’s view of CDRRF and increase their capacity to assist community groups to design local solutions that meet CDRRF’s funding criteria.

As such, participants were exposed to exclusive content for the design and development of CDRRF projects. Topics included the development of performance measurement framework and the importance of identifying correct indicators. Other areas of learning covered designing work breakdown structure and procurement plans as well as undertaking social and gender analyses as participants were exposed to the project management cycle.

The workshop further allowed for some focus on environmental impact assessment, project costing and scheduling; all within the framework of DRR/CCA projects. The trainees also benefitted from rich experiences as they delved into live project ideas.

As BMCs move to capitalise on the skills passed on by CDB, it is expected that there will be an influx of innovative and transformative projects with tangible results that can produce lessons for DRR/CCA.

“While you were exposed to CDB’s way, the range of topics remain very useful. The skills garnered will suit the design and implementation of development projects across the board, not just CDB-funded projects”, remarked CDB’s acting director of projects, Andrew Dupigny as he closed the workshop proceedings.

The project design and implementation workshop is the first of its kind for the CDRRF. They will form part of the knowledge management efforts of a wider US$25.78 million grant facility funded by CDB; Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development of Canada and Department For International Development of the United Kingdom. CDRRF aims to build community capacity for disaster risk management through adaptation to climate change and reduction of vulnerabilities and building resilience to the impacts of natural hazards.

Credit: Caribbean News Now!

Caribbean Water Ministers Will Address Water and Climate Issues to Help Shape the Development Agenda

In September, the United Nations will finalise a Post-2015 Development Agenda known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs follow and expand on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which expire at the end of the year and will be “the global community’s plan of action” for all dimensions of sustainable development (economic, social and environmental) for the next fifteen (15) years.

On the heels of establishing this new universal Agenda; Caribbean Ministers with responsibility for water resources management from more than ten (10) countries, will meet on August 27th and 28th, 2015 at the InterContinental Hotel in Miami, Florida to discuss critical regional water and climate issues. Both water and climate change are reflected as priorities in the soon to be confirmed SDGs, with Goal 6 being: “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all” and Goal 13 being: “Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.”

This Ministerial Meeting is the 11th Annual High Level Forum (HLF) which is being organised by the Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA) and the Global Water Partnership-Caribbean (GWP-C) in collaboration with the Global Environment Facility – funded Caribbean Regional Fund for Wastewater Management (GEF CReW) Project. The 11th HLF which takes place under the theme “Connecting Water to Climate, Economic Growth and Development within the Post-2015 Development Agenda” forms part of the CWWA’s 24th Annual Conference and Exhibition which is being held in partnership with the Florida Section of the American Water Works Association (AWWA).

The 11th HLF takes place at an appropriate time to allow for discussion and collaboration on water and climate matters to help shape the sustainable development agenda of the region. This year’s Forum is forward-looking with a goal of producing concrete outcomes and harmonised recommendations to guide national and regional efforts in operationalising water, wastewater and climate goals and targets for sustainable development. Some outcomes of the Forum are likely to feed into the contribution to be made by Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS) at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in December to play a pivotal part of global processes for advancing sustainable development.

According to Dr. Douglas Slater, Assistant Secretary-General of Human and Social Development of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), who will be a keynote speaker at the 11th HLF “Climate change will continue to have serious implications for water resources in the region,” linking the two critical issues. He has also stated that partnership remains one of the means of implementation needed to achieve sustainable water development goals. In addition to CARICOM and the Caribbean Ministers with responsibility for water and their senior government officials, representatives from regional and international agencies such as the United Nations Environment Programme Caribbean Environment Programme (UNEP-CEP), the Caribbean Water and Sewerage Association Inc. (CAWASA), the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH), the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), the Pan America Health Organisation (PAHO), the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) are expected to attend. Professor John Agard who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with the United Nations’ International Panel on Climate Change, will moderate a Ministerial panel discussion at the Forum.

 Credit: WINN FM 98.9

Caribbean and International Water and Funding Agencies Meet on a New Caribbean Climate-Proofing Water Investment Initiative

Over thirty (30) representatives from key regional and international water and finance institutions will meet in Barbados on April 9th and 10th, 2015 to help steer a new Caribbean Climate-Proofing Water Investment initiative spearheaded by the Global Water Partnership-Caribbean (GWP-C) under its Water, Climate and Development Programme (WACDEP) executed in collaboration with the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC).

The two-day Consultation will provide the stakeholders with a thorough overview of the new initiative which includes the development of a Regional Caribbean Climate Resilience and Water Security Investment Plan (CReWSIP). This plan is aimed at providing a coordinated and programmatic approach to identifying, prioritising and sourcing finance for the work of regional agencies in enhancing the climate resilience of the Caribbean water sector.

The upcoming Stakeholder Consultation is a crucial step in the process to ensure that the CReWSIP responds to regional needs and will help regional institutions deliver their respective roles and mandates as they relate to water security. It provides the opportunity for regional institutions to elaborate on how the Investment Plan can support their work and to guide the process in the right direction. Additionally, it will allow development partners to define how CReWSIP could be used as a vehicle to channel resources into regional water security issues.

According to Dr. Natalie Boodram, Programme Manager of the GWP-C WACDEP, “Collaboration and coordination between regional stakeholders is essential for the Caribbean Climate Resilience and Water Security Investment Plan to deliver benefits on the ground.”

The Caribbean Climate-Proofing Water Investment Initiative is being funded by the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) and while GWP-C and the CCCCC are coordinating the development of the CCReWSIP, the resulting programmes and projects are anticipated to be implemented through regional institutions, with the support of development partners.

Some of the organisations that will be represented at the upcoming Meeting in Barbados include: the GWP-C, the CCCCC, the CDKN, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the European Union (EU), the Department for International Development (DFID), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA), the Caribbean Water and Sewerage Association (CAWASA), the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) and other agencies.Download media release here.

Credit: Global Water Partnership-Caribbean (GWP-C)

CDEMA Unveils New Online CDM Monitoring and Evaluation Tool

CDEMA

L-R: Mr. Ronald Jackson, Executive Director, CDEMA; Dr. Elvis Nurse, Director Resources Management and Administration Division; Ms. Elizabeth Riley, Deputy Executive Director, CDEMA; Ms. Ana Maria Fernandez, Economist, IDEA International and Dr. Frederic Martin, Co-President, IDEA International.

The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) continues to strengthen its Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) systems for disaster risk reduction projects and programmes in the region. Recognizing the important role of technology in supporting robust M&E systems, the agency has developed a computerized information tool for capturing and analyzing performance data of the regional Comprehensive Disaster Management (CDM) Strategy 2014-2024.

The CDM Monitor, as the tool is called, was unveiled at a recent stakeholder session held at the Baobab Towers in Barbados. Participants at that meeting included representatives from the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), UN Women, National Disaster Offices of CDEMA Participating States and the CDEMA Coordinating Unit.

The web-based application assists in the area of planning and facilitates monitoring at various levels: strategic, programme, sub-programme/project, yearly work plan and annual budget. Performance information generated can then be used for decision-making by senior officials and technical project/programme staff.

Mr. Ronald Jackson, Executive Director of CDEMA, highlighted the importance of such technology to the Agency’s wider M&E system.

“As the region’s mandated disaster risk management agency we are required to effectively monitor regional progress towards achieving a safe and resilient Caribbean. We must also be able to monitor, report and plan more effectively and give account for our own performance as we make our contribution to the overall implementation of the CDM Strategy 2014-2024. With the implementation of The CDM Monitor, the Agency’s is poised to achieve these aspirations and further support our efforts to realize our vision of being ‘A Centre for Disaster Risk Management Excellence and a preferred partner for a safe Caribbean’.”

The CDM Monitor was developed by the Institute for Development in Economics and Administration (IDEA), as part of a wider consultancy aimed at strengthening the Monitoring and Evaluation capacity across the CDEMA system.

Dr. Frederic Martin, Co-President for IDEA, noted that “IDEA International, supported the CDEMA CU working in collaboration with other CDM system actors to (i) build up CDEMA human capacities in monitoring and evaluation, (ii) revise its performance indicators and targets, (iii) propose a CDEMA monitoring and evaluation policy, (iv) design a monitoring and evaluation plan, an action plan, and a staff performance management system for CDEMA Coordinating Unit, and (v) implement an online data base information system to support the M&E system. The progressive implementation of those complementary actions should position CDEMA as one of the leading institutions implementing results-based monitoring and evaluation in the Caribbean region over the next three years.”

The development of the CDM Monitor was sponsored through the Comprehensive Disaster Management – Harmonised Implementation Programme (CDM-HIP) with funding support from the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) and Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

Credit: CDEMA

Caribbean experts call for stronger cooperation on oil spills and nutrient management

Participants from the seventh steering committee meeting of the RAC-REMPEITC in Curacao

Participants from the seventh steering committee meeting of the RAC-REMPEITC in Curacao

Over 80 percent of the Caribbean Sea is polluted from land-based sources and activities such as deforestation, untreated waste-water, oil spills, agricultural runoff, farm waste and litter. This affects livelihoods, health, economies and ecosystems.

To address these problems, pollution experts from across the Caribbean met recently at two meetings.

  1. The seventh steering committee meeting for the Regional Activity Centre — Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Information and Training Centre for the Wider Caribbean (RAC-REMPEITC). That May 20-12 meeting in Curacao focused on an oil spill protocol for the region.
  2. The second meeting was of the scientific, technical and advisory committee (STAC), to the protocol concerning pollution from land-based sources and activities (LBS STAC 2).The June 1-14 meeting in Nicaragua, which was hosted by UNEP’s Caribbean Environment Programme (UNEP CEP), was being staged for the second year.

Key recommendations included:

  • UNEP CEP and the government of Curacao agreed to the continued hosting of the regional activity centre in Curacao that supports the protocol concerning cooperation in combating oil spills in the wider Caribbean region (oil spills protocol).
  • UNEP CEP and partners to promote the integration of oil spill disaster planning into national disaster planning processes by working with regional disaster agencies such as Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA)
  • UNEP CEP to work with oil spill regional centre to provide technical support to countries affected by oil pollution including dispersants and rehabilitating areas contaminated with oil.
  • UNEP CEP to develop stronger partnerships with the GPNM (global partnership on nutrient management) to improve nutrient management within the wider Caribbean region.
  • UNEP CEP and partner agencies to develop activities which will enhance the implementation of the LBS Protocol with specific reference to ship generated waste, air pollution and pre-treatment of industrial effluent found in domestic waste-water.

Christopher Corbin, programme officer for the assessment and management of environmental pollution at UNEP CEP, noted that these meetings were critical to evaluate the status of pollution in the region and to identify future priorities.

Nelson Andrade Colmenares, the regional coordinator for UNEP’s Caribbean Environment Programme, stressed that “currently 50 percent of coral reefs are in decline within the region.” However, he added that “with continued stakeholder engagement, cooperation and action this trend can be reversed allowing the region to prosper for generations to come.”

The recommendations from the technical meetings will be presented to the thirteenth meeting of the contracting parties to the convention for the protection and development of the wider Caribbean region, which will be held in Cartagena, Colombia.

In this International Year of Small Island Developing States, ocean, seas and biodiversity have been listed as priority areas. Management of pollution can be addressed by education, stakeholder engagement and a commitment to tackling these issues and it is anticipated that these regional and global efforts will result in action.

Credit: Caribbean News Now!
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