Sun | Oct 1, 2023

UNDP: Resilience, disaster mitigation more critical than ever

Published:Saturday | June 3, 2023 | 12:50 AMChristopher Serju/Senior Gleaner Writer
Denise Antonio
Denise Antonio

AS CLIMATE change continues to affect the frequency and intensity of weather events and as demographic patterns shift around the world, the impact of natural disasters will only increase.

Therefore, building resilience and properly planned disaster mitigation efforts are more critical than ever before, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative, Denise Antonio, told participants in its first Resilient Series Fireside Chats for the 2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season on Thursday.

In fact, Caribbean states are seven times more likely to be hit by natural disasters and sustain damage to their gross domestic production, six times higher than larger nation states. But the region is not helpless and can contribute significant solutions to support global mitigation efforts, Antonio told the audience at the UNDP’s multi-country office at 1-3 Lady Musgrave Road, St Andrew.

She pointed out that administrator of the UNDP, Achim Steiner, insists that the world has the knowledge, expertise, and technology to mitigate these risks through innovation, knowledge-sharing, risk-taking, and market-transformation.

Also, UNDP’s disaster risk-reduction and recovery team works to mainstream disaster risk-reduction in Latin America and the Caribbean. It also works with country partners to strengthen national policy, foster greater coherence to disaster risk-reduction and climate adaptation efforts and strengthen preparedness and recovery measures.

Antonio said that countries served by the UNDP’s multi-country office lie in the path of an active hurricane corridor and have had to adapt over the years out of necessity. She cited the data in support of this, over the decades.

“In 2020, there were 416 notable natural disaster events at an estimated cost of over US$268 billion,” Antonio said. “According to IMF (International Monetary Fund) data, between 1950 and 2016, 324 of the 511 disasters worldwide happened in the Caribbean, killing 250,000 people and affecting more than 24 million through injury and loss of homes and livelihoods.”

The UNDP has a significant track record of work in climate resilient regulatory frameworks within the region, with US$1 million funding from the India-UN Partnership Development Fund, and is now partnering with the government of The Bahamas on the construction of a hurricane-resilient shelter on Abaco. As a model of climate resilient construction methods based on build forward better standards, this centre will double as a recreational facility and safe space.

Antonio pointed out that as capacity is developed to withstand and to recover quickly from any crisis, nations along hurricane and cyclone hotspots can secure their development gains and stay the course in lifting the lives and ambitions of their people.

”You can count on us to be your agile, responsive partner in our shared quest for a climate resilient future,” she assured.