Ronald Jackson, executive director of CDEMA. (CMC photo)

By Kenton X. Chance

GENEVA (CMC) — The head of the Barbados-based Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Ronald Jackson, says the hemispheric conference on disaster risk reduction to be held in Jamaica next year presents an excellent opportunity for Caribbean voices to be heard on the issue.

Jamaica will host the Seventh Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas in Montego Bay bringing together key stakeholders and actors involved in disaster risk reduction (DRR) from throughout North, South and Central America and the Caribbean.

It is a multisectorial participatory forum that reflects the commitments and concerns of governments (national, subnational and local), intergovernmental organizations, international organizations, non-governmental organizations, community organizations, scientific and academic institutions, the private sector, donors and the media.

Jackson, who is attending the Global Platform for Disaster Risk reduction here, told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that CDEMA was very instrumental in lobbying the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) for the event to be held in the Caribbean region.

“The Caribbean is itself a living laboratory and even as much as we still require external assistance, we have advanced quite a bit in our disaster risk imperatives, and so in the global space, sometimes the voice and the experience of the Caribbean gets lost.

“So we are using this as a space to present the Caribbean experience and also to encourage people to come to the Caribbean next year in Montego Bay, Jamaica to see the regional platform on show in a Caribbean space which gives us a great opportunity to showcase what it is we have been doing regionally and also within many of our members states so that is part of the conversation as well,” Jackson told CMC.

He said that with the conference taking place in the region next year, it is a great opportunity for the participation of more Caribbean delegations “to not only partake of the information but allow your voices to be heard because if we are not hearing from the grassroots on these issues then our strategy won’t be as effective as it can be.

“And, in this space, sometimes the Caribbean’s voice is often missing so we have created a space for the Caribbean voice to be heard and we are hoping that many of our Caribbean countries and delegation would be able to join us there and to begin to help us with not only speaking out but owing these strategies and implement them not as stand-alone but as an integrated approach into their national development strategies and plans.”

He said the conference taking place here this week is important to the Caribbean region.

“First and foremost, it’s about ensuring that there is a recognition that the Caribbean has disadvantages by virtue of its small size, open economies and that we should be treated within the context that our growth is fragile.

“So, part of it is to facilitate some of the conversation we are having with resource mobilisation to advance the imperatives of the strategy. And to do that, there has to a recognition that the Caribbean has, in fact, a very robust, forward looking strategy that needs to be taken into account and that strategy contributes to the delivery of the global agenda,” he told CMC.