The UWI advances work towards a more resilient Caribbean at World Bank conference.

From May 27-31, 2019, UWI experts joined more than 500 delegates from major development partners, donor agencies and members of the private across the globe, gathered in Barbados to discuss priorities and solutions needed to tackle the Caribbean’s climate and disaster risks. The three-day Understanding Risk (UR) Caribbean conference was organised by the European Union, World Bank and Global Fund for Disaster Risk Reduction in partnership with the Government of Barbados and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).

Focusing in on the matter of resilience, The UWI hosted a panel discussion on day three of the conference titled, Towards Resilient States: Tools & Good Practices. The panel which was led by Jeremy Collymore, Disaster Risk Consultant at The UWI, included UWI colleagues, Gabriel Thongs, Geography Lecturer at the St Augustine Campus; Janice Cumberbatch, Social and Environmental Management Lecturer as well as Tara Mackey, Academic Researcher in the field of Water Resource and Environmental Management, both from the University’s Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES). They were joined by Ronald Jackson, Executive Director of CDEMA and Evangeline Inniss, Deputy Director of Department of Disaster Management, Government of the Virgin Islands.

UR Caribbean has created spaces for The UWI to follow up and collaborate within the framework of the CARICOM pathway to resilient development. The UWI and CDEMA have agreed to join efforts in advancing a methodology and product that allows for more objective measurement of social vulnerability. Additionally, the University will engage in continuing dialogue to roll out a resilience-building facility in collaboration with World Bank, CDEMA, the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). The UWI also used the UR Caribbean to pilot its Campus Contingency and Continuity of Operations course and conducted an exploration dialogue with regional organisations, World Bank and other stakeholders on the rollout of a regional programme to address the issues of building safety and land use.

Contextualising The UWI’s involvement, Jeremy Collymore noted, “Through its work in the Seismic Research Centre, Geology and Geography Department, CERMES and the Departments of Physics, the University has a long and globally recognised record of contributing science to the understanding risks in the Caribbean. The panel discussion highlighted ongoing research at The UWI that is providing new tools which are beginning to influence policy on coastal and community resilience planning.”

Tahseen Sayed, World Bank Director for the Caribbean underscored, “Understanding a problem is the first step to solving it.” She added that the conference was “an opportunity to renew the Bank’s commitment to work together with other institutions across the Caribbean to invest in preparedness and build resilience.”

Three regional programmes to support planning for long-term resilience and climate-smart growth strategies for Caribbean countries were also launched during the week-long conference. These included, the Caribbean Regional Resilience Building Facility and the Technical Assistance Programme for Disaster Risk Financing and Insurance in Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories financed by the European Union at US$31 million and US$3.4 million respectively, as well as the Canada Caribbean Resilience Facility financed by the Government of Canada US$15.2 million.