Sunday, August 10, 2014

Remarks by Mr Ronald Jackson, CDEMA Executive Director at the Opening Ceremony of the 5th meeting of the Council of Ministers of CDEMA

Remarks by Mr Ronald Jackson, CDEMA Executive Director at the Opening

Ceremony of the 5th meeting of the Council of Ministers of CDEMA

Madame Chair, thank you for the introductory remarks.
The Honorable Minister Adriel Braithwaite, Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs and representative of the CDEMA Council of Ministers, Ms. Gayle Francis-Vaughan, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ms. Judy Thomas, Director Department of Emergency Management, Honorable Dennis Kellman, Minister of Housing Lands and Rural Development, Dr the Honourable Dennis Lowe, Ministry of Environment and Drainage, Deputy Governor Stanley Reid, Anguilla; Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Heads of National Institutions, Permanent Secretaries and other Senior Government Officials, Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen

Delegates at the 5th Meeting of the CDEMA Council of Ministers
I am pleased to welcome you to this our fifth meeting of the CDEMA Council of Ministers. First let me thank the Government of Barbados, for the arrangements made to host this, the fifth (5th) Meeting of the Council of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA). The Government, in this resource constraining environment, has once again demonstrated its commitment to CDEMA in their willingness to facilitate the successful convening of this meeting, even in these challenging times. Those efforts are appreciated; please accept our expressions of your gratitude.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this fifth (5th) Meeting of the CDEMA Council is taking place at a critical juncture in the Agency’s existence. The global and regional economic and risk management landscape is evolving in a manner that provide both challenges and opportunities for advancing the Post-2015 Development Agenda. The Caribbean region, through the Comprehensive Disaster Management (CDM) and Programming Framework 2014-2024 is positioned to influence the United Nations processes for the Hyogo Framework Beyond 2015 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). What the Agency has been able to lead and articulate strategically, must now be matched by implementation operationally.
The importance of an integrated risk management approach like CDM is underscored by the emergency events impacting the CDEMA Participating States over the period. The December rains of 2013 resulted in severe economic impact for three (3) Participating States and as a region we mourned the deaths of these fourteen (14) members of our Caribbean family. This experience underscores the fact that hazards occur all year round not just in the hurricane season, and there is a need for perpetual readiness, particularly for fast onset hazards. Four (4) years ago the earthquake in Haiti highlighted a critical need to strengthen understanding of the Regional Response Mechanism at the political, strategic and operations levels, and the need for the orientation of decision makers to the system, both at the national and regional levels. CDEMA embarked on efforts to address this, but events like the December 2013 rains and the diversity of hazards faced, necessitate that we re-double our efforts. The issue of regional, national and local capacity for multiple catastrophic events is demanding comprehensive and integrated action.
Over the last year therefore, CDEMA has developed a Regional Disaster Response Support Doctrine to provide the key principles of the Regional Response Mechanism. It articulates clearly the CDEMA position in providing a regional response to a disaster in any of its Participating States and to foster the harmonisation of international support with the regional disaster support when necessary. CDEMA has also revised the Plans and Standard Operating Procedures for the Sub-Regional Focal Points (SRFPs) which should now be operationalized before the next major hazard impact. This will assist Participating States in a quicker response and more efficient communication and reporting.
To support this, technical investment was provided through the Roving Technical Support Team (RTST) mechanism in Exercise Evaluation; Plans update; National Emergency Operations Centres training, Message Handling, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Training; Community Disaster Assessments and training, Search & Rescue and ICT Assessment to name a few. At the institutional level, support was provided for the development of the CDM Policy and Legislation.
It is recognised that absorptive capacity for support in advancing the CDM agenda at the national level is a challenge and whilst CDEMA has committed to facilitating capacity building or inputs in some cases, the accelerated pace of risks and vulnerability necessitates a more holistic treatment of this issue. It is for this reason, that over the last year we have been able to complete the process that will allow us to propose a Model National Disaster Organisation Structure for consideration during our deliberations. This policy paper will guide decision-makers in adapting organizational structures that are optimal for delivering on the CDM mandate. Having the appropriate institutional arrangements in place, starting at the level of the National Disaster Office, is one of the key ingredients for advancing CDM at the national level.
Distinguished delegates of the Council, I begun this address by stating that we are at a critical juncture. In preparation for this journey the Agency has rebranded. A new CDEMA logo and tagline – Resilient States. Safer Lives have been developed which demonstrate that countries and people are central to the Agency’s work. That is our commitment.
We are at the end of a Strategic period and will embark on a new period as of September 1, 2014. The final endorsed CDM Strategy and Results Framework 2014-2024, developed through a broad stakeholder consultative process provides the road map for the building of resilience to hazard impacts at the national and regional levels over the next 10 years. The new features of the Strategy address a strengthened monitoring, evaluation and reporting (MER) system to track results delivery, the development of an implementation plan as a road map for results delivery, a focus on integrated management of risk associated with all hazards including those related to climate and the expanded stakeholder target to include the finance and economic planning as well as the Physical and environmental planning. This has positioned the CDEMA System to deliver on the vision of safer more resilient Caribbean through CDM. The investment in MER in is in keeping with the Agency’s steps to strengthen accountability and reporting, we not only want to re-brand, but to be that brand. This will advance the marketing and communication of organisation results.
We want to take the opportunity to extend our sincere appreciation to all our development partners. Your assistance has made it possible to mobilise resources which exceeded assessed contributions for 17 of the 18 CDEMA Participating States. Mobilised resources average a 5:1 ratio. Thank you very much for your support - The Government of Austria, Government of Australia; Government of Brazil, Government of Canada and Government of the United Kingdom.
The CDM Strategy will provide a framework for resource mobilization going forward. For the reporting period, we have already developed proposals for access over US $35M to implement the new Strategy. We are pleased to report that the Intra-African Caribbean and Pacific European Development Fund has been signed and this positions CDEMA to access 4.7M Euros.
Sincerest appreciation is also extended to the Government of the United States of America for their generous support through the provision of a Regional Training Facility with Warehouse which will be the headquarters for CDEMA valued at US$4M.
Ladies and gentleman, the level of ex ante support provided by the CDEMA Coordinating Unit for its Participating States and the significant return on investment when compared to annual contributions by Participating States, is however dependent on Participating States ability to effectively utilize these funds, to buttress national Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) programming activities. In addition, development partner support must be undergirded by support from Participating States. This ought to be expressed not only in the timely and full provision of Participating States contributions, but commitment to participating in the Agency governance arrangements appropriately. There is significant correlation between the financial status of the organisation, timeliness of payment, level of confidence in the organisation and the ability to embark on a successful resource mobilisation programme.
As we consider the sustainable financing of CDEMA, the Agency has advanced efforts on the Endowment Fund and the Market Survey, on which the Council of Ministers will deliberate. These efforts are dependent on the appropriate skills sets within the organisational structure for successful delivery. Indeed, we must also consider the implications of our scalar schedule to retain skills and attract new staff as we advance. The commitment and dedication of staff, even with these challenges is highlighted and applauded.
The time is now, for us to seize the opportunities ahead. We are well poised to be a leader in a global agenda beyond 2015. The CARICOM Strategic Plan proposed for 2015-2019 will offer a platform for resilience building in the region. I therefore urge us to reaffirm our commitment to the CDM agenda as a safeguard for economic resilience in the region. I look forward to our meaningful and successful deliberations.

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