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Opening Remarks from Jeremy Collymore, CDERA

Ladies and gentlemen, first let me thank you for making the effort to be here for this consultative forum on the Draft Strategic Framework for a Comprehensive Disaster Management agenda in the Caribbean.

As Government and the private sector awareness of the devastating potential of hazard impact on our economies, communities and profitability grow, so does the recognition of and demand for a longer term, strategic and integrated approach to disaster reduction. We may say that now disaster management is everybody's concern. We are now seeking to make it everybody's business.

It is our expectation that your presence will assist us in fashioning a strategy that promotes a broad based consensus approach to Disaster Management in general and risk reduction in particular.

It is recognized that part of the process of making risk management a retail product has to do a lot with improving know-how, filling knowledge gaps and improving professional practices in a diversity of disciplines.

The task cannot be left to National Disaster Organizations (NDOs) alone. In many cases they have very little influence on the national decisions as these relate to resource allocation of capital investments or critical facilities location.

The reality is that if any real difference is to be made in reducing the exposure of our development interventions, then we must target those who make or inform these.

If one follows this trend of thinking then one must reflect on the role of the NDOs in this CDM process.

More importantly consideration has to be given to whether the existing institutional arrangements for disaster management at the national and regional levels are adequate. This reflection cannot be avoided.

The consultants have offered some ideas that you should ponder on and add value to. I would certainly like to see some consideration given to the issue of change management as part of this CDM process. We must recognize, accommodate and allay fears of stakeholders who feel that they may be displaced in this process. The dialogue must be issue focussed and goal driven rather defined around territory.

It is our expectation that after this consultation we will have a strategic framework for promoting and adopting CDM in the region. There will initially be promotional consultations at the national level.

A formal process for strategy adoption in the CDERA Community will be set in place with a view to having the process endorsed by our Council at its 2002 meeting.

We recognize that there are many initiatives, which can be undertaken to build the platform for a CDM programme that can be pursued even as the consultation process unfolds. The CDERA 2001-2004 work programme is informed by this consideration. Its goal is to create and accelerate the institutional capacity for Comprehensive Disaster Management in the region through consultative programming, partnership implementation and financing.

Ladies and gentlemen, I suggest to you that what you will be engaged in here today is critical input into building that elusive sustainable development we are yearning for. I further suggest that it represents a direct, but often inconspicuous, effort to enhance our competitiveness in this globalization process.

I urge your unreserved participation.

 

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