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Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Noel Arscott, says Jamaica and the region have made strides in advancing disaster risk management and embracing comprehensive disaster management.

Speaking at the closing of the 7th Annual Caribbean Conference on Comprehensive Disaster Management (CDM), at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa in Montego Bay, on December 7, the Minister said that as policy makers and agents of the change process, “we are committed to the charge of ensuring individual and collective ownership and engagement of our political leaders to the disaster resilience agenda."

The conference was held under the theme: ‘Comprehensive Disaster Management, Building Disaster Resilience … a shared responsibility’, and saw over 400 delegates representing 50 member countries from across the Caribbean, in attendance.

“As Chairman of this conference I have had the opportunity to observe your deliberations. Your commitment in this cause is certainly not in question. Notwithstanding place, culture and representation, it is clear that you are well into the common cause of promoting safe and resilient societies.  Unquestionably, the opportunity that I have had as chairman to share and learn from you, the disaster risk reduction practitioners, will have a far-reaching impact on how I view this portfolio that I manage,” the Minister  said.

“I feel that we are leaving here with a revived acknowledgement of our shared and collective responsibility.  We must remain committed to provide support for and promote the efforts towards strengthening the governing process of the CDM at the local level,” Mr. Arscott told the participants.

The Minister emphasised that the success of the conference must transcend local borders. “We must remain committed to the cause of facilitating the Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) process,” he said.

He stressed that there must be feverish efforts toward private sector engagement for the promotion of the CDM programme and the mission of resilience.

For his part, Director General of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), Ronald Jackson, also expressed satisfaction at the successful outcome of the conference, the theme of which “embodied the spirit of what we have worked over the past 21 years to try and establish."

"This is about a shared responsibility and shared commitment towards resilience building, given the nature of where we live within the region and the vagaries of natural events on our respective environments and our systems and our way of life,” he said.

"I look forward to the continued dialogue, sharing and the continued establishment of lessons and good practices that will see us becoming a much more resilient and united region,” Mr. Jackson added.