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High-level Conference to mobilize resources for hurricane-ravaged CARICOM States coming in November

PRESS RELEASE – (CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) The Caribbean Community (CARICOM), with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), will hold a High-level Donor Conference on  21 November at UN Headquarters in New York to mobilise international resources for its Members devastated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

This initiative is aimed at rebuilding the devastated Members as the first climate resilient countries in the world and helping the wider CARICOM Region improve its resilience.  International Development Partners, friendly countries, NGOs, prominent personalities, private sector entities and Foundations have been invited.  CARICOM Heads of Government and the Secretaries-General of CARICOM and the United Nations will also participate.

The powerful category 5 hurricanes Irma and Maria hit the Region in September causing a number of deaths and widespread devastation in CARICOM Member States and Associate Members.  Irma, with wind gusts of over 230 mph, damaged or destroyed more than 90 percent of the buildings on Barbuda – the sister island of Antigua – leading to the complete evacuation of the island; and between 60 and 90 percent in Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, the southern family islands in The Bahamas, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Haiti and St. Kitts and Nevis were also affected.  Maria passed two weeks later, hitting Dominica with such fury, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit was prompted to declare that “Dominica is pure devastation”.

CARICOM, through the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) has been at the forefront of the immediate relief effort. Member States, private sector companies and public spirited individuals have contributed significant quantities of relief supplies. Several countries have also contributed security personnel, health professionals and utility repair experts, among others. CARICOM Chairman, Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell of Grenada and Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque led assessment teams to badly affect islands.

Given the level of devastation and in anticipation that the frequency and intensity will become the new normal, the Region has recognised the need to build back better for improved resilience.

November’s Donor Conference also comes against the backdrop that the impacted countries are Caribbean Small Island and Low-lying Coastal Developing States (SIDS) with inherent vulnerabilities.  Most have also  been made ineligible for concessional financing from major donors which have categorised them as middle to high income countries.

Credit: CARICOM Secretariat - Press Release Announcing Conference

Atlantic, Caribbean storms more destructive as temperatures rise – study

Hurricanes in the Atlantic and Caribbean oceans will grow more than twice as powerful and damaging as ocean temperatures rise from global warming, a new study says.

Warming seas could produce more rainfall and far more destructive storm surges of water along the ocean shorelines in the next 50 to 100 years, said the study by U.S. scientists published this week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

“It could affect the entire Atlantic coast,” said William Lau, a co-author and research associate at the University of Maryland’s Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center.

Simulation showed future storms with as much as 180 percent more rain than what occurred during Superstorm Sandy, which heavily damaged the Northeastern United States in 2012, he said.

“The rainfall itself is probably way out in the ocean, but the storm surge would be catastrophic,” he said.

In 2012, Sandy killed 159 people and inflicted $71 billion in damage as it battered the U.S. coast, especially in the states of New Jersey and New York. Nearly 200,000 households obtained emergency government assistance, and rebuilding remains stalled in some areas.

Simulating weather patterns with higher ocean temperatures rising due to global warming, the study found future hurricanes could generate forces 50 to 160 percent more destructive than Sandy.

Credit: Reuters

It’s Caribbean Public Health Day!


The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has declared today July 2nd, Caribbean Public Health Day.

Watch the Caribbean Public Health Day message from the Executive Director, CARPHA, Dr. C. James Hospedales.

The celebration of Caribbean Public Health Day on July 2 coincides with the anniversary of the legal establishment of CARPHA, which makes it an opportune time to highlight the work of the Agency, sensitize Caribbean people about the importance of public health and the contribution it can make to the socio-economic development of the Region.  For this reason, CARPHA has decided to mark July 2nd, with effect from this year, Caribbean Public Health Day.

We encourage you to listen to the Message and also to share it with persons in your networks as we celebrate the inaugural Caribbean Public Health Day!

Caribbean countries led the world to the historic UN High Level meeting in New York in 2011 resulting in a Declaration to prevent and control NCDs.  It is expected that this leadership will again be shown at the Meeting to address the global threat of NCDs from July 10 -11, 2014.


Follow CARPHA at #addLife
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Message: Text

Good day.

As Executive Director of the newest international public health agency of the 21st century – CARPHA – the importance of public health is succinctly summed up in the words of our slogan – Preventing disease, promoting and protecting health.  Indeed, the Caribbean Public Health Agency, CARPHA, is committed to promoting a healthier, more productive Caribbean population in cleaner and greener environments. The work of CARPHA advances the public health of the Region in several ways, including monitoring health and disease spread and responding to emergencies, laboratory services, nutrition and food security, health research, environmental health and pharmaceutical quality.

However, within recent times, the scourge of non-communicable diseases, also known as NCDs, such as obesity, stroke, cancers, heart disease and diabetes, along with risks such as tobacco use and harmful use of alcohol, and poor diet and physical inactivity, has presented a clear and present danger to our health and economies, right here in the Region.

The sobering reality is, that NCDs are now the leading cause of premature deaths, accounting for nearly half the deaths of persons under 70 years, and two out of three deaths overall in the Caribbean.

In addition, this Region has one of the highest rates of obesity in children and adults in the world.

Recent studies throughout the Caribbean show over 25 per cent of adolescents as being overweight or obese.  This is mainly due to poor diets and lack of physical activity, driven by profound changes in the way we live and play, with massive marketing of foods high in sugar, fats and salt; as well as several hours per day spent watching TV and playing video games.

In fact, the vast majority of the people do not get five servings of fruit and vegetables a day, which protect against high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer.

Despite the alarming nature of all this evidence, there is also a positive side to NCDs: most of them are caused by modifiable risk factors.  In other words, if we control the risk factors leading to NCDs, we can prevent some 80 per cent of all heart attacks, strokes and Type II diabetes, as well as 40 per cent of cancers.  This will greatly benefit the economy also.

The modifiable risk factors are mostly known to all of us.  They include tobacco use, an unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and harmful use of alcohol. Other intermediate risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar and obesity.

To address this health scourge and to promote healthy living, CARPHA declares, today, July 2nd, Caribbean Public Health Day.

Please allow me to take the opportunity today, to publicly thank our public health nurses, environmental health officers, dieticians and nutritionists, health educators and other public health professionals who work tirelessly in the communities educating and assisting persons to adopt a healthy lifestyle, so that they can successfully reduce their risk of developing chronic diseases.

On this day, Caribbean Public Health Day, we urge you to Add Life to Your Life and reverse the NCD trend.  Start today, by making at least one lifestyle change.  Add life by:

  • Walking 30 minutes a day; it can halve your risk of heart attack
  • Reduce your salt intake to reduce your risk of hypertension
  • Eat five servings of fruit and vegetables each day to reduce your risk of hypertension, heart disease and cancer
  • Don’t smoke to reduce your risk of cancer and wrinkles and save money
  • Reduce your alcohol consumption 
  • If you have high blood pressure or diabetes, stay on your medications to avoid complications like heart attacks, stroke, and kidney failure

Recognizing that “The Health of the Region is the Wealth of the Region”, CARPHA encourages you to join with us in demonstrating your firm commitment to improving the quality of your own life and that of our families, so we move towards more healthy people in healthy spaces, and reduce the preventable health costs to families, businesses and governments.

I thank you.

Major overhaul of international negotiations needed to save global coastal cities

Experts warn that only a complete overhaul of our economic growth and international negotiations can prevent sea level rises that will destroy coastal cities like New York and London.

Projektipäivät 2012 keynote by Ian T. Dunlop on the same issues he spoke about at the UN. From Infocrea on Vimeo.

Energy expert Ian Dunlop and policy-planner and scholar Tapio Kanninen delivered a stark message in New York at the end of April that even limiting global warming to 2°C could eventually produce sea level rises of up to 6 to 7 metres (23 feet), wiping out coastal cities like New York, London, Shanghai and Tokyo. They told shocked audiences at the United Nations that if we continue with current policies, temperatures could rise 4°C or more, leading to sea level rises of up to 70 metres (230 feet).

See CARICOM’s Liliendaal Declaration on Climate Change and Development (2009), which calls for  global average surface temperature increases to be limited to  below 1.5° C of pre-industrial levels.

Kanninen and Dunlop were in New York to address a series of packed meetings and panel discussions, organised by the Finnish Mission to the United Nations, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, the Club of Rome, the Temple of Understanding and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

They presented new evidence demonstrating the severity of the crisis of global sustainability and global survivability and discussed with diplomats, political decision‐makers, sustainable development experts and NGOs how to persuade the UN and other international institutions to take immediate emergency action.

Commenting on recent scientific findings, Ian Dunlop – with over 30 years’ experience at the Royal Shell Group as engineer and senior executive and a former leader of Australia’s Emissions trading panel said: “Today’s leaders refuse to accept that climate change science and the concept of peak oil condemns the international community to a catastrophic future. Why are we still exploring for fossil fuels, since we can only burn off 20-30% of reserves if we wish to keep climate change to the 2 °C limit, while current policies will result in warming of 4-6 °C?” he asked.

This level of temperature rise means that the globe can only carry 0.5-1 billion people, not the present 7 billion, leading experts evaluate.

Tapio Kanninen, a former long time UN staff member and policy-planner, said that scientists have determined a number of “tipping points” that exponentially and dramatically accelerate global warming trends. As they begin to kick in, in a matter of years not decades, we must take action before it is too late to avert a catastrophe.

The severity of the global crisis goes unrecognised: we need a global emergency response and new policy models

Dr Kanninen said current international and national institutional and political systems are incapable of preventing the increasing severe global crises; it requires a change in the entire system plus an emergency response. If runaway climate change leads to rising sea levels the next move has to be to urgently overhaul the UN and our global governance system so it is capable of dealing with rapidly changing global and regional conditions.

Ian Dunlop said that many scientists and practitioners are wrongly dubbed ‘alarmist’, but diplomats, politicians and the whole intergovernmental system have failed to grasp the severity of the crisis. If we fail to act we could find ourselves like a ‘ship of fools’ floating on rising sea levels.

Failing to institute a major global policy change will inevitably lead to the gradual implosion of the economic, ecological and social structures on which we depend, and they called for “An urgent joint effort by member states, NGOs and scholars to improve the quality of global negotiations on climate change and sustainable development”.

Setting up new structures

Faced with the reality gap between what scientists predict and what politicians are prepared to do, part of the solution to global inertia lies in creating an independent Global Crisis Network of regional, national and local centres with a global coordination unit that will interact with a revamped UN.  Eventually, the UN Charter has to be totally rewritten to correspond to the new global reality.

Source: The Club of Rome, an international think-tank, based in Switzerland, with 1500 members and over 30 National Associations. Its mission is to undertake forward-looking analysis and assessment on measures for a happier, more resilient, sustainable planet

The Limits to Growth, a 1972 report to the Club of Rome was written by Denis Meadows, Donella Meadows, Jorgen Randers and William Behrens III. It used computer models to project possible future scenarios with different assumptions of how humans would react to earth’s physical limitations.

Dr Tapio Kanninen is Senior Fellow at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and a Co-Director of the Project on Sustainable Global Governance. He was Chief of the Policy Planning Unit in the Department of Political Affairs (1998–2005) at the United Nations and worked earlier to set up a global environmental statistical framework in a UNEP-funded project in the UN Statistical Division. He is a member of the Club of Rome.

Ian Dunlop is an Australian Energy Expert, a fellow to the Centre of Policy Development and a former senior executive at the Royal Dutch Shell Group. He is Chair of Safe Climate Australia, Deputy Convenor of the Australian Association for the Study of Peak Oil and a Club of Rome member.

Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung is a German political foundation with over 100 offices around the world, including an active UN office. It is the Germany’s oldest organisation to promote democracy, political education, and promote students of outstanding intellectual abilities.

The Temple of Understanding is an interfaith NGO working to promote global survivability, and an active member of the NGO community working on the inside of the United Nations to advance social justice.

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