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Reducing Disaster Risks: Progress and Challenges in the Caribbean Region

Disaster management is a global policy problem with a critical land-use change component related to settlement patterns, deforestation, and agriculture development. This is further exacerbated by climate change. For example, since 1970, the quantity of major category 3, 4, and 5 hurricanes have almost doubled in the Caribbean region, from 15 major hurricanes between 1970-1979 to 29 major hurricanes between 2000-2008, with institutions attributing this increase in hurricanes partially to climate change possibly leading, over the next 20 years, to a decrease of 9% of GDP for the region.

This is the reason why addressing disaster management is one of the focuses of the climate security objective of the upcoming United Nations Rio +20 Summit.

Yet institutions, whether in the private or public sector, generally are responsive after-the-fact to single events in how to develop responses to natural disasters. Given that 60 percent of the population of the Caribbean region lives in the coastal zone with 70 percent of all economic activity located within two miles of the coastline, increasing risks associated with climate change have the potential to greatly impact deforestation and biodiversity loss unless collated and well-nuanced integrated pro-active disaster management preparedness plans are in place between public and private sector institutions.

For example, after Hurricane Gilbert in 1988 decreased Jamaican GDP 65 percent, Jamaica established an emergency information system with standard operating procedures regarding located and assessing critical resources including natural resources. Yet, while the green economy grows the Caribbean region is further at risk from increasing frequency of major category 3, 4, and 5 hurricanes that could negatively impact the growing new economy.

In conclusion, as much as a “green economy” is promoted with green businesses with associated economic returns, an “integrated green risk mitigation mechanism” should also be promoted as a method to protect and insure the gains from the “green economy” while securing Millennium Development Goals and maintaining and enhancing social, environmental and governance safeguards. This is one of the key lessons from the Caribbean region presented in Reducing Disaster Risks: Progress and Challenges in the Caribbean Region.

How to order
Reducing Disaster Risks: Progress and Challenges in the Caribbean Region
Guest Editors: Ian Davis, Stephen O. Bender, Fredrick Krimgold, and Franklin J. McDonald

Paperback: 110 Pages, $99.95

Publisher: Earthscan, 2011

Gabriel Thoumi frequently contributes to

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