JIS News

Director General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Dr. Gladstone Hutchinson, has stressed the importance of macro-economic planners incorporating disaster risk management into national plans.
“As planners, we can no longer sit back and wait to carry out post assessment of hazard impacts. We have to be proactive; we have to plan, rather than just respond to a crisis that has happened,” Dr. Hutchinson said.
He was speaking at the first of a two-day national workshop on disaster risk indicators for Jamaica, hosted by the PIOJ and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), at the Institute’s headquarters, in Kingston, on Monday (August 23).
Dr. Hutchinson further pointed out that in preparing for disasters, this would help to protect the environment, stressing that a healthy environment should underpin all development aspirations.
“We are in a modern era of planning and the environment and its related issues are no longer seen as peripheral issues,” he said, noting that disaster management is not the sole purview of emergency response agencies, but an issue of national planning with social and economic implications, and must be central to all development planning.
He further pointed out that the natural environment is a very important economic asset and cultural asset for the livelihood of Caribbean nationals, warning that if this is not protected then there could be serious consequences.
“The nature of the multi-hazards that we face has shown us that we need to mitigate the risk of droughts, and floods and hurricanes and earthquakes and even volcanoes. We need to build the tools to do these things and build (an) educational culture around it,” Dr. Hutchinson said.
The workshop was held to present to national authorities, the results of a country risk evaluation of Jamaica, in order to enhance knowledge and awareness of country disaster risk, and to facilitate sector dialogue with the Government of Jamaica on disaster risk management prioritisation and opportunities for IDB support. The assessment was undertaken by the IDB.
The IDB’s Representative to Jamaica, Gerard Johnson, said the Bank is engaging the Jamaican Government in new country strategy.
He noted that the Bank’s president has a new mandate for the next five years, and that one of the priorities put forward was that environmental issues “(are) front and centre.”
“It’s front and centre, because as a development bank, our job is to work with the planning authority to look beyond the crisis of today, to look at the crisis of tomorrow which is going to be a lot worse and a lot bigger if it’s ignored,” he said.
In an interview with JIS News, Division Chief, Rural Development, Environment and Disaster Risk Management at the IDB, H

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