Sint Maarten represented at Disaster Risk Reduction Meeting in Martinique

Disaster Office Coordinator Paul Martens recently returned from Martinique after attending a Regional Risk Reduction Initiative meeting early February which is part of a European Union (EU)/United Nations Development Program (UNDP) development project. 

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The meeting was for Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) and was held under the theme, "Sharing of Knowledge, Tools and Experiences for Building Capacity in Disaster Risk Reduction in the OCTs."

Besides Sint Maarten being in attendance, representatives of Saba, Sint Eustatius and Bonaire were also in attendance.

"The objective of the meeting was to share best practices and expertise; the presentation of capacity assessment tools; and charting the next steps.

"One of the main results of the meeting was to have a common understanding of effective systems and methodologies operating in Martinique, Anguilla, British Virgin Islands and Cayman Islands.

"It is important that we learn from other islands since we mostly experience the same types of disasters with the exception of a volcano within the Caribbean Basin.

"The meeting overall was very informative and much progress has been made on what steps need to be taken in future where comprehensive disaster management is concerned," Sint Maarten Disaster Office Coordinator Paul Martens told the Government Information Service (GIS) on Sunday.

The UNDP is committed to areas of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, both being very crucial for small and highly vulnerable islands of the Caribbean.

A World Bank 2006 report noted that there was a more than 15-fold increase in the real cost of disasters since the 1950s, and the number of persons affected also rose dramatically from 1.6 billion in 1984 to 206 billion in 1993 with substantial further increases since. Hurricane Ivan in 2004 resulted in over US$3 billion in total losses of both assets and income in Cayman Islands and Grenada alone.

Speeches and statements at the start of the meeting were made by President of the General Council of Martinique; UNDP, the EU and the Martinique Disaster Management.

The delegations from the various islands were given several tours that entailed one of the General Council of Martinique’s Operations Room – Concorde Building; a landslide stabilization project at Fonds Saint Denis; a visit to the Morne des Cadets Volcano Observatory.

Martens and other attendees were hosted by the General Council of Martinique.