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Greater resilience necessary to confront natural disasters — CARICOM's LaRocque

Friday, October 06, 2017

GEORGETOWN, Guyana — Caribbean Community Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque today said the catastrophic hurricanes that ripped through Caribbean territories recently were likely to be the "new normal", and provided the evidence of the reality of climate change.

According to a release from the CARICOM Secretariat, Ambassador LaRocque commenting on the impact of the storms also pointed to the need for the region to build greater resilience to face the new normal.

LaRocque was delivering remarks at the opening of the 71st Special Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) on agriculture that convened this morning at the CARICOM Secretariat in Georgetown, Guyana.

The meeting is being held as the region is grappling with the devastating effects of two Category Five Hurricanes - Irma and Maria - on some CARICOM Member States and Associate Members.

The secretariat said the Ministers of Agriculture have prioritised climate change, risk management, building resilience and climate smart agriculture agenda over the day-long session.

"These climatic events of the past month were unprecedented. Never before has two category five storms ravaged the Region in one season. Never before has a hurricane moved from category one to category five inside 36 hours as Hurricane Maria did. Events like these are likely to be the new normal and provide proof positive of the reality of climate change," the Secretary-General said.

The devastation caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria to the agriculture and fisheries sectors was a stark example of that fact, the Secretary-General added. The hurricanes destroyed the agriculture sectors in Dominica and Barbuda.

He pointed to the strong appreciation that ministers of agriculture had for the inherent fragility of the sector, especially to climatic events, and underscored the importance of rebuilding the sector in the affected countries in the shortest possible time.

Among the matters the ministers will addressed at the meeting is the establishment of a Regional Agriculture Emergency Sub-Committee which will have responsibility for the development of a regional emergency response protocol to safeguard human and livestock health.