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Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Noel Arscott, says Small Island Developing States (SIDS) must create partnerships and pool resources, to effectively deal with disaster challenges and natural hazards.

“We are predisposed to the effects of natural hazards, so we must collectively identify measures to effectively face these challenges, in an effort to build resilience and provide sustained opportunities for our citizens," Mr. Arscott said.

The Minister was addressing participants at the annual Caribbean Conference on Comprehensive Disaster Management, held at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa in Montego Bay, from December 3-7. The conference was held under the theme: ‘Comprehensive Disaster Management, Building Disaster Resilience… a shared responsibility’.

Mr. Arscott explained that disaster resilience is “the ability of our region, our countries, our communities and individual households to prevent, minimise, absorb, recover from, or adapt to the shocks of natural hazards and the spectre of climate change and variability, without losing the ability to function as an efficient system, providing the basic services and needs, but more importantly, returning to the path of sustainable development."

“It means, therefore, that resilience building will require the engagement of actors from state to non-government agencies, private and public sector, political parties, local governments and communities working in unison to ensure the building of sustainable partnerships,” the Minister added.

He said that as Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), he shared the vision of advancing Comprehensive Disaster Risk Management locally and regionally and is committed to raising the political consciousness on the steps necessary to achieve that resilience agenda.

“We have before us a great opportunity to contribute to the shaping of Comprehensive Disaster Management (CDM) beyond 2012.  I encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to combine our efforts, give feedback, review and take ownership of this CDM agenda.  Essentially, I am encouraging you to embrace the concept of shared responsibility and ultimately, accountability,” Mr.  Arscott said.

The Minister argued that the CDM framework is a significant vehicle for continuing the transformation, and that the conference has evolved into a forum for exploring, sharing and advancing ideas towards policy and practice among a broader audience and stakeholder grouping.

“Please contribute to the deliberations as they will help to bring new insights into our objectives and further demonstrate that the business of resilience building is a shared responsibility,” he urged the delegates.