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Regional Countries Adopt Revised Action Plan On Disaster Risk Reduction

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#Jamaica, November 5, 2021 – The seventh Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas and the Caribbean (RP21) concluded at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston, on Thursday (November 4) with participating countries adopting the revised Regional Action Plan for implementing the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction.

This decision, which was informed by the outcome of civil society and youth consultations at the conference, followed deliberations on the Plan by delegates attending the Ministerial and High-Level Authorities Meeting.

They included Prime Minister of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, Hon. Brigadier Mark Phillips, and 10 other government ministers, who met with representatives from 29 regional countries.

The Sendai Framework, which runs from 2015 to 2030, is the successor agreement to the Hyogo Framework for Action (2005–2015), which had been the most encompassing international accord, to date,  on disaster risk reduction.

It was adopted by the United Nations (UN) in Sendai, Japan, in March 2015 and endorsed by the UN General Assembly three months later.

Speaking at the conference closing ceremony, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, said the regional assessment report for 2021 documents the interventions needed to reduce disaster risks across the Americas and the Caribbean.

He noted that failure to tackle the root causes could potentially increase those risks, resulting in environmental, economic, and social losses.

“The disaster data and risk information must now be integrated in government policies right across sectors… towards tackling… the nature of the risks that we continue to face as a region, [which] is one of the most vulnerable areas [globally]. We, therefore, need… to effectively build disaster resilience for the future,” Mr. McKenzie underscored.

Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Elizabeth Riley, who spoke virtually, said that States must ensure that the revised Regional Action Plan incorporates the systemic nature of risks and the lessons learnt from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

She noted that these include the need to strengthen risk governance and articulation between disaster risk reduction and public health.

“Along with the elements that were strengthened in this Plan, are the linkages with mechanisms of social protection to protect the most vulnerable, the crucial role of the private sector in disaster risk reduction, the importance of ensuring access to basic services, and the resilience of critical infrastructure,” said Ms. Riley

She said that adoption of the Ministerial and High-Level Authorities Declaration includes commitments on critical aspects that need to be addressed in the face of the complexity of a pandemic recovery, the climate challenge, and the need for higher ambition for the implementation of the Sendai Framework in tandem with the 2030 Agenda.

“Strengthening multisectoral, multi-stakeholder, and multilevel risk governance and boosting investments in resilience become fundamental to achieving these goals. Social contracts… anchored in universal systems of social protection… that collectively manage risks are [also] required,” Ms. Riley added.

The four-day semi-virtual conference was jointly organised by the Government of Jamaica, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), and CDEMA.

It was held from November 1 to 4, under the theme ‘Building Resilient Economies in the Americas and the Caribbean’.

Among the other programmed engagements was a Declaration emerging from a youth forum on disaster risk reduction that was presented during the Ministerial Round Table Meeting and adopted by the participating delegates.

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Bahamas News

Cruising should slow down says PAHO

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

‘Slow down on Cruising’, that’s the word from the Pan American Health Organization, PAHO in their latest recent press conference.

Dr. Ciro Ugarte Director of Health Emergencies at the PAHO was referring to the Bahamas but made sure to note that the advice was highly relevant to many countries in the times of omicron.

“In the context of intense transmission, due to the Omicron variant as we have highlighted several times. It is just logical to suspend or at least limit the cruise ship traffic as an outbreak on board might end up exceedingly high and probably will go beyond the capacity of local health services”

Both the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos are experiencing a massive uptick in cases and several warnings regarding cruise travel have been issued by the US Centers for Disease Control.

Cruising just resumed for many regional countries this past Summer, Turks and Caicos was among the latest to restart on December 13.

A stop to sailing would be devastating to economies, however, ports of call like Grand Turk which are reeling with rocketing case numbers of COVID are urged to consider the suggestion of slowing down on ships by PAHO.

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Caribbean News

Cayman gets its second ‘Sir’; former Premier Alden McLaughlin knighted on Jan 1

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#Cayman, January 20, 2022 – Former Premier of Cayman Alden McLaughlin was knighted at the start of 2022; named in the Queen’s New Year Honors List. He is only the second Caymanian to have ever received a knighthood from her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Sir Vassel Johnson, received the honour in 1994; he was Cayman’s first Financial Secretary; he died in November 2008 at the age of 86.

Current Governor, Martyn Roper extended congratulations saying, “This is an outstanding personal achievement for former Premier McLaughlin, one of the most important and impactful political leaders in Cayman over the last 21 years. It is a significant moment for our islands. This historic award is only the second ever Knighthood to a Caymanian since the first in the 1990s. It is a strong signal of the respect in which Cayman is held and a visible demonstration of the progress Cayman has made as a vibrant democracy with strong good governance foundations.”

Sir McLaughlin, who is also now a QC attorney, served two terms as premier and had a career in politics that spanned 21 years. McLaughlin is known for his role in modernizing Cayman’s constitution.

Current premier G. Wayne Panton described the occasion as a unifying moment for the country saying, This is a day of celebration and great pride for all Caymanians as a son of our soil has been bestowed one of the highest honour.  Today marks a new and most unique storyline in the history of the Cayman Islands.  In considering the rarity and magnitude of this occasion, this is certainly a unifying moment for our community.”

Sir Alden McLaughlin, 60, was appointed as a Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George on January 1, 2022.

 

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Caribbean News

Understanding Sargassum with help from the TCI’s Department of Environment & Coastal Resources  

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By Sherrica Thompson

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – Sargassum, also known as seaweed, is a natural brown macroalga that lives in temperate and tropical oceans of the world. The floating micro eco-system is important to many species, including baby turtles, little crabs, and tiny fish. All these animals use the floating rafts of the sargassum for protection, shelter, and food.

Over the years, sargassum has been increasing its quantity in the Caribbean due to climate change. As water temperatures increase, sargassum blooms, and as this continues, it occurs in large amounts. This can be dangerous for some marine life because when seaweed washes up on the shore, some species become trapped in the sargassum mat.

Environmental Outreach Coordinator at the Department of Environmental and Coastal Resources for TCI, Amy Avenant, says the Turks and Caicos Islands has not seen the worst of the overgrowth.

“In the Turks and Caicos Islands, we have not seen the full severity of sargassum blooms. Our neighbours in Bonaire, for example, experience up to six feet of sargassum, and they have found stranded dolphins, sea turtles, and sometimes even birds,” said Amy Avenant.

“When the sargassum washes up on shore, it starts to decompose, and when it decomposes, it emits methane, and that is the stinky sulfuric eggy smell that you can smell when you walk past it on the beach. It is a bad thing for climate change because of the methane, but it is not harmful to your health.”

Turks and Caicos saw this in extreme amounts in October; so severe, resorts were forced to bag and bury the stinky seaweed which for over a week covered the usually sandy white stretch of Grace Bay beach.

Avenant noted that in the TCI, we have a balance between managing the influx of sargassum and impacting the areas where it lands because its influx is correlated to the cycles of the moon.

She also said sargassum can be used as a fertilizer in farming. If you collect it, the advice is to spread it out and ensure you wash the excess salt off before adding to your gardens or farms.

There are also hidden dangers and habitat threats to the piles of sargassum on shorelines.

Avenant informed, when you see sargassum on the beach, ensure you watch out for wildlife that might be stuck and species which might have made a home of the ocean’s deposit which has washed up, this is heightened on rocky shores.

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