The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), in collaboration with the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, is currently hosting a two-day workshop in Kingston to equip participants with the knowledge and tools to make cities resilient against disasters.
The focus is on the development and implementation of local Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) strategies and action plans that are aligned with the national DRR strategies and Sendai Framework.
Speaking at the opening on October 22 at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston, Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, noted that the recent heavy rainfall did significant infrastructure damage estimated at $450 million, and that the workshop is timely, as it is a capacity-building exercise to equip stakeholders with the knowledge to prepare local municipalities for the “shocks” associated with natural disasters.
“This workshop comes at a time when we are preparing ourselves to stage the regional platform on disaster risk reduction next year. Jamaica is placed as the leading country in the region regarding disaster preparedness in all forms,” he added.
Jamaica will host the region’s highest forum for reviewing progress on reducing disaster losses in Latin America and the Caribbean in July 2020.
The Seventh Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction will be the first in the series to be staged in the Caribbean and takes place as UN Member States strive to meet the 2020 deadline for having in place national and local strategies for disaster risk reduction.
For his part, Chief of the UNDRR Secretariat, Raul Salazar, said the engagement of cities and local authorities has been at the forefront of discussions in many of the global forums, and noted that cities are key to tackling local risks.
“We have decided jointly with the Minister to start with Kingston and Montego Bay as a local example that could be shown in the context of a regional platform 2020 to take place next year. We want to reach that point with local plans developed in these two areas and accelerate the pace in which other parishes implement those local plans,” he said.
Since 2011, Jamaica has been engaged in the Making Cities Resilient (MCR) Campaign, and, as such, local authorities across the island have committed to adopting the Ten Essentials for Making Cities Resilient.
Through the MCR Campaign, launched in 2010 with the aim to increase political engagement and raise awareness on disaster risk reduction at the local level, the UNDRR has been supporting the local governments in reducing risk.
The Sendai Framework is a 15-year, voluntary, non-binding agreement that recognises that the State has the primary role to reduce disaster risk, but that responsibility should be shared with other stakeholders, including local government, the private sector and other stakeholders.
It aims to bring about substantial reduction of disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods and health and in the economic, physical, social, cultural and environmental assets of persons, businesses, communities and countries.
The workshop is being held under the theme, ‘Disaster Risk Reduction and Making Cities Resilient: Towards the Development and Implementation of a Local Disaster Risk Reduction Strategy’.
Participants include local stakeholders from the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM); Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ); and Climate Change Division, Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation.