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Madam Chair, Distinguished members of the Head Table, Country Delegates, Representatives of National and Regional Organizations, Ladies and Gentlemen, Good morning.

It is a pleasure to be here in Trinidad and Tobago and an even greater pleasure to deliver brief remarks on behalf of Mr. Jeremy Collymore, the Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency at this opening ceremony of the Workshop on Gender, Vulnerable populations and Disasters in Latin America and the Caribbean – An Initiative to prepare for the IV International Congress on Gender and Disasters 2011.

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Good morning, it is a pleasure to deliver brief opening remarks at today’s Regional Consultation on behalf of the CDEMA Executive Director.

It is with particular pleasure that I welcome my colleague Ms Helena Stare, from the Delegation of the European Commission which have provided the financial resources for this work. I also wish to welcome the delegates representing the CDEMA Participating States, members of the Legislation Advisory Committee supporting this work, partners, CDEMA Coordinating Unit colleagues and the team from the Disaster Management Consortium of St. Kitts and Nevis who will be facilitating the workshop.  

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Ladies and Gentlemen let me begin by apologising for the absence of The Rt. Honourable Prime Minister who is finalising our country’s budget which is due tomorrow. I am deeply honoured that he has chosen me to represent him.  

The spectrum of disasters affecting the world and our region provide a compelling focus to your work and this meeting.  I will use two recent calamities – the earthquake in Haiti on the 12th of January and the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on the 20th of April to illustrate the importance of your work.

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Ladies, gentlemen, we are gathered as part of an ongoing process to operationalize the requirements and mandates of this re-branded and refocused agency, Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).

The convening of this, the first meeting of the Technical Advisory Committee, is a key step in this direction.  The organ has been repositioned to promote a deeper and more sustained involvement of Participant States in the identification of their priority technical assistance needs, the design of solution to these needs and in the full participation of their monitoring and evaluation.

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The Honorable Bruce Golding, Prime Minister of Jamaica, Distinguished Representatives of Government, Invited Guests, Conference Delegates, Members of the Media, and Other Partnersin Disaster Management:

This 4th CDM Conference is taking place at a critical anniversary juncture in the Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) historical landscape in the Caribbean. These include the initiating, thirty years ago, of the dialoguing on actioning a regional isaster preparedness and prevention programme which gave birth to the infamous Pan Caribbean Disaster Preparedness revention Project (PCDPPP); the birthing of ODIPERC, now ODPEM also thirty years ago; the pioneering international conference on disaster mitigation twenty five years ago in Ocho Rios; and theagreement of the Conference of the Heads of Government of CARICOM twenty years ago in Grande Anse, Grenada to establish a regional inter-governmental framework for coordinating its policies and programmes in DRR, CDERA now CDEMA.

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