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December 7, 2013
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Countries urged to put in place sound disaster-risk reduction

Countries in the region have been urged to urgently put in place sound environmental management and disaster risk- reduction systems as they are in greater danger of natural hazards than other countries worldwide.

The call came from Minister of Local Government and Community Development Noel Arscott as he delivered the keynote address at the official opening of the 8th Caribbean Conference on Comprehensive Disaster Management (CDM) at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa in Montego Bay on December 2.

The five-day conference, which ended yesterday, was staged under the theme 'CDM for resilient development: a good investment'.

"Jamaica and the countries of our region are constantly reminded that we are the most vulnerable region of the globe. Our fragile economies, natural, and built environments tell the tale of our vulnerability and risk. Comprehensive disaster management must, therefore, be fully embraced by all sectors, all stakeholders, the region, and the world," Arscott emphasised.

The minister said that citizens of the region must remain cognizant of the ever-present threat of natural disasters, exacerbated by geography and socio-economic conditions, as well as the threat of technological and other human-induced disaster events.

"We see disastrous events around us, often with catastrophic impacts as they increase in magnitude, frequency, and intensity. The most recent typhoon, Haiyan, ravaged the Philippines, leaving thousands dead and injured. Some weather experts claimed the event was three and a half times stronger than that of Hurricane Katrina (in the United States), which cost over $100 billion in relief support," he said.

As for Jamaica, the minister indicated that comprehensive disaster management had been integrated into the country's development approval processes through its technical planning and environmental agencies and the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management .

"The Government, through its public-sector bodies and partners, continues to take action from lessons learnt, both locally and internationally. Our Vision 2030 National Development Plan indicates our commitment to building resilience and is embodied in Goal 4: Jamaica as a Healthy National Environment," Arscott pointed out.

"These will be executed through three national outcomes: sustainable management and use of environmental and natural resources; hazard risk reduction and climate- change adaptation; and sustainable urban and rural development," he added.

The minister noted that through the ministry, the Government had raised awareness in the area of climate change and executed many climate-change adaptations and disaster risk reduction initiatives at the community level.

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