South-South Exchange at Pacific Platform for Disaster Risk Management Meeting
August 3, 2011, Auckland, New Zealand - A Caribbean delegation is attending the Pacific Platform meeting this week in
Auckland, to exchange experiences and best practices with colleagues from across the Pacific region. The similar
geography, climate trends and limited size of populations of small island states in both regions creates similar
challenges for disaster risk management.
The 3rd Session of the Pacific Platform for Disaster Risk Management (DRM) was opened yesterday by Dr. Russell Howorth
of Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s (SPC) SOPAC Division and a video message from Ms. Margareta Wahlstrom, Special
Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction. The 2011 conference is hosted by the New Zealand
Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management in Auckland. Over the course of the week-long conference, the Pacific
Platform convenes national disaster managers, regional agencies, donors and other stakeholders involved in reducing the
impact of disasters on this region’s population. The meeting will review the progress of disaster risk management in the
Pacific between 2009 and 2011, and work towards mainstreaming disaster risk considerations into national planning
processes and integrating current regional policy frameworks for disaster risk management and climate change.
The Caribbean delegation is led by Jeremy Collymore, Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster and Emergency
Management Agency (CDEMA). Later this week he will discuss how to build bridges for south-south cooperation, and will
participate in a high-level dialogue on disaster management policy.
Allison Gordon from Jamaica’s national Office for Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) stressed in her
presentation yesterday that in Jamaica her office works closely with communities “to develop disaster plans that are
actionable and useful, that are not just sitting on the shelf.” She noted that the plan must be exercised, to see if
what is on paper works in practice. Community level disaster preparedness activities in Jamaica, such as pre-positioning
emergency supplies at the local level, resonated with Pacific countries such as Cook Islands.
Allison Wiggins from Barbados’ Coastal Zone Management Unit (CZMU) will showcase an example from Barbados on coastal
development control and conservation of the five natural lines of defense against sea-level related hazards. She will
also share details of the Caribbean early warning system for tsunamis and will learn about early warning systems in
place in the Pacific, which can provide some lessons for the Caribbean.
The Caribbean delegation was brought to the Pacific meeting under the auspices of the project “South-South Cooperation
between Pacific and Caribbean Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) on Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk
Management” which encourages a systematic sharing of knowledge and experiences to strengthen community safety and
resilience to a range of natural disasters in both regions.
The project is coordinated by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Centre, with extensive support from
the regional UNDP Caribbean Risk Management Initiative (CRMI). Partners in the Caribbean include Caribbean Disaster and
Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), INSMET (National Cuban Meteorological Institute), CARICOM Climate Change Centre
(CCCCC) and University of the West Indies (UWI). Key partners from the Pacific region include South Pacific Regional
Environmental Programme (SPREP), Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and University of the South Pacific (USP).
National agencies in both regions also play an important role.
The South-South project is supported by the UNDP’s Special Unit for South-South Cooperation and by the UNDP-Japan