The private sector is key to building disaster resilience

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In this file photo, a woman tries to get up after falling into floodwaters as she tried to cross South Quay, Port of Spain. –

Private sector participation is key to building resilience to natural disasters in the Caribbean. That was the dominant message at the Business and Community Resilience Co-Creation event hosted by Unicef ​​and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency at the Radisson Hotel on Thursday.

In his opening remarks, the CEO of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM), Retired Major General Rodney Smart, said the organization has begun to engage with the local business community through several initiatives. These included a continuity workshop in partnership with the American Chamber of Commerce (Amcham) to be able to create more risk-resilient businesses that can recover quickly from disasters.

“The ODPM salutes the dynamism and enthusiasm of the private sector in improving the capacities of our nation, and by extension our region. This sector is critical to disaster risk reduction in driving national and regional support to help our Caribbean neighbors after a disaster.

He said the organization continues to take a whole-of-society approach and is in the process of refining a comprehensive national disaster management policy and implementation plan, the National Work Plan, for which it has received support. of the CDEMA.

“This key policy and plan will provide the strategic direction for the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030. The framework, which was adopted by Trinidad and Tobago in full in 2020, is the global model for risk reduction and management. This process will enable the ODPM and all of our stakeholders to recommend to the government a new strategic direction for disaster management, leading to the updating of existing legislation, thus strengthening the collective capacity of all sectors, including our private sector.

The keynote address was delivered by the Executive Director of the Association of Industry and Commerce of Dominica, Lizra Fabien, who leads the disaster risk reduction pillar of Caricham, a network of chambers of commerce in the Caribbean.

She said the private sector is an engine of growth and a big contributor to sustaining livelihoods, taxes for governments, support for civil society and community development programs. She described three key lessons she learned.

“The first is that the risks are different: there are many types of risks and they affect us all.

“The second lesson is that the private sector is not homogeneous, has different needs and capacities and faces different challenges. Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises represent 50-75% of our private sector in different countries, and operate in different sectors.

“The third lesson is that building resilience requires a whole-of-society approach. It takes a community to build resilience. If after national disasters only governments helped rebuild countries, would we be where we are? where we are today? Governments, citizens, civil society organizations, academia and the private sector all have a role to play in achieving sustainable development outcomes.”

Fabien said there needs to be a partnership between governments, the private sector and civil society organizations to build resilience.

“We partner to generate smarter policies, to protect our environments and communities, while empowering businesses. We partner for knowledge sharing, spreading best practices and accelerating innovations, as well as for targeted advocacy.

She shared several modes of partnership, ranging from passive to active. These included information dissemination, public events and training campaigns, open networks and discussions, multi-stakeholder forums and partnerships, alliances and transactions.