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Gary Allen | Climate-proofing media a priority for region

The following is an address from Gary Allen, president of the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU), delivered at the opening ceremony of the  CBU Annual General Assembly on Monday. 

Tomorrow (Tuesday), the CBU’s Assembly will take place under the theme:“Building Resilience to Climate Change: Business, Technology and Content Options for Caribbean Media.”

This theme resonates in our land of wood and water; which is often hit by drought, floods, hurricanes and earthquakes.

The CBU expresses thanks to our partner, the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), with whom we have designed sessions in which we hope you will participate tomorrow.

The catastrophic hurricane season of September 2017 was an unwelcomed reminder of our vulnerabilities. The public interest media who are members of our Union have always recognised and shouldered our responsibility to provide life-saving information to mitigate and assist with recovery from natural and other hazards which may result in disaster.

But little attention has been paid to the media’s own vulnerability to the added risks of climate change. And as we believe you will be convinced during tomorrow’s session, climate-proofing our media must be a priority for the region.

I submit to you that, in the absence of indigenous media – which we as broadcasters are, committed to our peoples’ interest, if we fail, the region will suffer serious consequences without us.

We only have to think back to the fact that leaders of their countries had to turn to us/broadcasters to speak to their people and keep them calm before and after catastrophic events.

When it was social to be making fun of people’s adversity and confusing populations in distress, with incredulous content pulled from elsewhere in the World and labelled as being from one of our Caribbean territories in distress, with the shoe on our foot, we knew it was not funny.

We only have to recall that it was the indigenous, the credible and the reliable public interest broadcasters that were relied upon to restore credibility.

That is why we at the CBU were pleased last year to work with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the BBC in delivering broadcasting equipment to those affected in Anguilla, Dominica and the Turks and Caicos Islands in the wake of their hurricane impact – to restore reliable broadcasting.

Strengthen crucial institutions like CaribVision

Over the past year, the challenges of our industry have affected all of us who are dependent on declining broadcast and print advertising revenues.  However, I must take time to note our ongoing concern for the challenges of CaribVision- the regional and Diaspora channel operated by our partially owned subsidiary company, the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).

The channel continues to struggle, in spite of it having a strong contribution of regional content and being accessed in more than 30 territories in the region as well as in global Diaspora communities.

After a decade and a half of intensive efforts, it has not been able to find a viable and sustainable business model, largely we believe, because it has been treated as separate from the other regional integration institutions.

 In spite of its reach and the value of the North American, the Diaspora and the regional tourism markets, Caribvision still does not get even the rounding errors in the tens of millions of US Tourism dollars spent by our governments, to woo prospective visitors to our region…choosing instead to spend heavily with foreign media, ONLY.

It is our view that together we have to strengthen our crucial institutions, if as a region we are to be stronger.

We take note that our leaders of the Caribbean Community have again recommitted themselves to a more progressive and deliberate integration movement.

We remind our leaders, represented here by none other than the current Chairman of CARICOM, PM Andrew Holness that the disconnect and the challenges between policy determination, implementation and acceptance, in the integration movement, often have to do with little or no consistent communication being in place and the lack of information on which one has a basis to make proper decisions.

CaribVision is the closest we have to a regional public service broadcaster and it deserves better support.

We daresay Prime Minister, that without a healthy, reliable and credible media environment in the region, there is insufficient information, on which our people need to base their decisions and understanding of regional business, education, disaster management, national security, justice and other imperatives for the region.

Chairman, you all know that we are at a time of tremendous change for our industry from analogue to digital terrestrial television broadcasting. Some of our members have started the process while others are struggling to start.

This will certainly be a matter discussed again in our Assembly. We again call on our regulators and policy makers to collaborate where we can in the region and to take deliberate steps to ensure that indigenous broadcasters are allowed to transition in a manner that retains their viability and competitiveness – one that allows them to enter the full range of media and communications services that the new broadcast technologies allow. Traditional broadcasters must be allowed to be licensed to use digital formats that will make them players in the Internet, cable, telephony and television services.

While that is done, we appeal for the authorities to ensure that all countries in our region take steps for the prevention of analogue television waste material being dumped on our markets and that our people are sufficiently informed and educated about the various aspects of this significant set of changes.

If you permit me, Chairman, we must also draw attention to the concern we have had in Jamaica, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago with draft legislation aimed at putting necessary laws in place for Data Protection.

We will deliberate upon some of these issues in our conference, but must make it clear that (we) will not yield our editorial independence; we will not reveal sources to any source and we will not accept a law that will fine or imprison publishers for not meeting Data Protection Laws that breach the fundamentals of a free media and the right of the people to hold authorities accountable.

Credit: The Gleaner

Reinsurers call for action at climate change summit

Politicians must act to cap global warming when they meet at a United Nations summit at the end of the year as the financial and humanitarian consequences of natural catastrophes become ever clearer, reinsurers meeting at an industry conference said.

The $600 billion reinsurance industry helps insurance companies pay damage claims from hurricanes, floods or earthquakes and can help people and companies get back on their feet after a disaster.

The UN’s climate boss warned this week that national promises to cut emissions so far would cap warming at an unacceptably high level, heightening concerns in the insurance industry about politicians’ lack of resolve.

“Definitely we expect political courage to move in a direction that shows responsibility towards future generations and a certain interest in defending the sustainability of this planet,” Swiss Re’s Chief Executive, Michel Lies, told a news conference.

Swiss Re data shows natural disasters caused an average $180 billion in economic damage per year over the last decade, of which 70 percent was uninsured.

Credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s said big natural catastrophes can also lead to cuts in sovereign credit ratings — making it more expensive for governments to borrow money — with Latin America and the Caribbean most at risk.

These conclusions should help concentrate minds at the climate talks starting in Paris on Nov. 30, reinsurers said.

“What we can bring to the table is a credible price tag for the decisions that are taken or not taken, making sure everybody understands that in the short term you may not take a decision but you will definitely pay a price in the long term,” Lies said.

Weather researchers say global warming will result in more frequent and intense heatwaves, precipitation and storms. Warming needs to be limited to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels to avoid the most devastating consequences in the form of droughts and rising sea levels, scientists say.

“Even if this goal is not fully reached, every step in this direction is better than no result at all,” said Peter Hoeppe, head of Geo Risks Research at reinsurer Munich Re.

In the meantime, there must be increasing focus on preventive measures such as flood defences that can help dampen the rise in insurance premiums in the medium to long term, Hoeppe said.

Insurers and Group of Seven industrialized countries are working to expand the availability of insurance to an additional 400 million people in developing countries considered at high risk.

“Climate change is happening, no question,” said XL Group’s Chief Executive, Mike McGavick.

“Insurers and reinsurers have to be at the forefront of transferring that risk,” McGavick said.

Credit: St. Louis Post Dispatch

All 16 CCRIF member countries renew hurricane and earthquake insurance for 2013/2014

Cave Karst

The sixteen member governments of the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) renewed their hurricane and earthquake insurance for the 2013/14 policy year that started June 1. Since CCRIF’s inception in 2007 – and despite increasing economic and financial pressures – member countries have recognised the value of including CCRIF’s parametric hurricane and earthquake coverage in their national disaster risk management strategies.

This year was no different, especially given that the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted an active 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season with more and stronger hurricanes than usual. For the six-month hurricane season, which began June 1, NOAA stated there was a 70 percent likelihood of 13 to 20 named storms – well above the seasonal average of 12 named storms.

In light of the budgetary constraints felt by countries across the region, CCRIF sought again this year to minimise premium costs. For the 2013/14 policies, CCRIF provided a 25% discount on premiums because no payouts were made by CCRIF in 2012/13, resulting in an underwriting surplus for the organisation, which is run as a not-for-profit entity. Also, countries could apply a portion of their Participation Fee (a deposit paid when they initially became a CCRIF member) toward their premium payment and had the option to lower the minimum attachment point for tropical cyclones (hurricanes) from a fifteen-year to a ten-year return period. These all led to a reduction in the effective cost of coverage to countries this year by at least 25% but in some cases up to 50%.

The Facility also added the new excess rainfall product to its portfolio of offerings to Caribbean governments for 2013/14. This product specifically covers extreme rainfall events, from both cyclonic systems and from non-cyclonic systems. It should be noted that rainfall is not included in CCRIF’s current hurricane policies, which trigger based on damage from wind and storm surge. Many countries have consistently expressed interest in excess rainfall coverage and in fact, the new product is of interest to countries which are not yet CCRIF members since they are not vulnerable to hurricanes or earthquakes but have significant extreme rainfall risk.

CCRIF recognises that rainfall is a leading cause of damage in the Caribbean – not only during hurricanes but throughout the year, and is seeking ways to enable countries in the region to obtain this coverage. Earlier this year, CCRIF, in collaboration with the Caribbean Development Bank, Sustainability Managers held a meeting with international development partners to explore ways in which they could support the roll-out of this product. These donors were very interested and committed to examine how they could provide support.

Since the inception of CCRIF in 2007, the Facility has made eight payouts totalling over US$32 million to seven member governments on their hurricane or earthquake policies. All payouts were transferred to the respective governments within 14 days after each event.

The payouts made by CCRIF since 2007 are listed below.

 Event                                      Country               Payouts ($US)

Earthquake, 29/11/07                Dominica                           528,021

Earthquake, 29/11/07                Saint Lucia                        418,976

Tropical Cyclone Ike, 09/08   Turks & Caicos Islands    6,303,913

Earthquake, 12/01/10                   Haiti                             7,753,579

Tropical Cyclone Earl, 08/10       Anguilla                       4,282,733

Tropical Cyclone Tomas, 10/10  Barbados                     8,560,247

Tropical Cyclone Tomas, 10/10   Saint Lucia                  3,241,613

Total for the Period 2007 – 2012     —                           32,179,470

For more information, please send an email to pr@ccrif.org or visit the CCRIF website at http://www.ccrif.org.

Source: CCRIF Press Release

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