At 18th meeting… CDERA looks at transition to CDEMA


Georgetown, Guyana, June 26, 2009 (Guyana Chronicle) - The 18th meeting of the Council of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency (CDERA) convened in Georgetown yesterday with an extensive agenda dealing with the advancement of comprehensive disaster management for the region.

The one-day deliberations gathered together ministerial representatives of the Heads of participating Caribbean States at a critical juncture in the regional and international economic and risk management landscape, providing both challenges and opportunities for advancing comprehensive disaster management and the institutional arrangements for disaster risk reduction.

The delegates met at Cara Lodge, in Quamina Street, Georgetown and the participants also included from Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Belize, St. Lucia, Grenada and Antigua and Barbuda.

Speaking to the media after the opening session, Head of the Presidential Secretariat (HPS) in Guyana, Dr. Roger Luncheon, who chaired the forum, said the challenges that would be faced in the disaster management sector will be discussed and addressed.
"Particularly the introduction of comprehensive disaster management as a guiding strategy and then, from the organisational side extending within the ambit of disaster, the climate change and the swine flu pandemic,” he stated.

"Those two matters, the expansion of the ambit of CDERA to deal with the swine flu and climate change are going to a matter that would be discussed here and for recommendations to go to the Heads,” Luncheon disclosed.

He said the caucus will deal with the adoption of comprehensive disaster management and, particularly, the challenges it would pose at the national and regional levels.

"…but there is no doubt that CDERA, itself, as an institution, feels it can offer the kind of strategy and put in place all of the requirements that would allow the Heads to fully consider and baptise this initiative,” Luncheon said.

Asked if Guyana is going to push its climate change lobby there, he replied: “This is not the occasion. I mentioned it in my contribution but I think that the resort by the Administration is to have a regional, a CARICOM endorsed position on climate change.

"Hopefully, one that is influenced by our strategy and, when the Heads adapt a resolution on climate change, we would anticipate our advocacy would allow important elements of ours to be endorsed and be captured in the regional position.

"We are actually committed to having a regional position on climate change and we want to influence the content of that regional position along the lines of our strategy.”

Coordinator of CDERA, Mr. Jeremy Collymore told reporters the delegations will be looking at several issues relating to risk management in the region.

He emphasised that these will include interfacing climate change adaptation and disaster management.

"How we can maximise the synergies of these, if in the context of promoting sustainable development,” Collymore explained.

He said those taking part will use the opportunity to look at the transition from CDERA to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).

In July 2008, the Heads of Government of CARICOM signed an agreement establishing the CDEMA and the Council will be updated on the transition agenda for the inception of CDEMA on September 1, 2009.

The birth of CDEMA will soon be followed by the development of a suite of policy and tools to mainstream disaster management in the community’s development thrust.

Collymore said the group will also look at the budgeting and financing of that process.

Noting that there are some other issues to be discussed, he added: “Including the issue of humanitarian response. What do these major catastrophic events foretell in relation to how we organise ourselves and we will also talk about the issues of national capacity strengthening.”

He pointed out, as well: “We will look beyond the reporting process to the strategic issues, so that we can better inform our higher level decision makers on some of the options that may need to be considered going forward.”

Identifying some priorities, Collymore said: “We would like clear decisions and support, of course, for the transition of CDERA to CDEMA. We see it as really an anchor in moving the process forward.”

He went on, “…and the appropriate budget for that transition process because we believe that mandate and resource are critical for an effective delivery.”

Collymore said the Council would like the strong commitment for the interfacing of climate change and disaster management.

"And the endorsement of what we call upscaling of our response operation capabilities, to deal with the new threats and the larger threats, that we are facing in this region,” he mentioned.

CDERA is the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) organ responsible for its disaster response and management, a regional inter-governmental agency that was established by an agreement of the Heads of Government Conference in September 1991.

It has a current membership of 16 CARICOM States, with its main function being to respond to any disastrous situation affecting a participating State, once requested.

Among its other responsibilities are securing, collating and channelling, to interested governmental and non-governmental organisations, comprehensive and reliable information on disasters affecting the region; mitigating or eliminating, as far as possible, the consequences of disasters affecting participating states; establishing and maintaining, on a sustainable basis, adequate disaster response capabilities among participating States and mobilising and coordinating disaster relief from governmental and non-governmental organisations for affected participating States.

CDEMA Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency. Resilience Way, Lower Estate, St. Michael Tel: (246) 434-4880, Fax: (246) 271-3660
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