BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS – From May 27th to May 31st Prime Minister Leona Romeo Marlin lead a Sint Maarten delegation to Barbados, to attend the Understanding Risk (UR) Caribbean Conference organized by the World Bank’s Latin America and Caribbean Region Disaster Risk Management team, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and the European Union (EU).
The Understanding Risk (UR) Caribbean Conference is aimed at sharing the most current information related to identifying, assessing and reducing disaster risk in the Caribbean region. The conference is hosted by the Government of Barbados and will be held at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus’ Errol Barrow Center for Creative Imagination.
In her keynote address at the conference Prime Minister Romeo Marlin said, “I have spent my first 18 months in office working tirelessly to rebuild our island and to look for ways to better prepare the country for future storms and the financial consequences that will come with them. In doing so, I have strived to follow the examples of other disaster-prone countries in the Caribbean region and to implement existing best practices.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, Sint Maarten has taken two important steps to better manage the financial risk of natural disasters. Firstly, as of September 1st 2018, the Government of Sint Maarten has joined the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility, CCRIF, purchasing coverage for tropical cyclones, earthquakes and excess rainfall (CCRIF renewed on June 1st 2019). A second step that we are taking is the establishment of a Disaster Risk Management Fund, which will be financed through our national budget. In creating this self-insurance mechanism, we are following the example of other countries in the region such as St. Kitts and Nevis, and Dominica.”
Prime Minister Romeo Marlin explained that a key component of such a strategy is to find ways to increase the practice of purchasing private insurance. On Sint Maarten, as in many other Caribbean regions, low and middle-income households as well as small-business are not insured or severely underinsured. One of the main reasons for this are the extremely high premiums. Addressing the inadequate insurance of the private sector should be a fundamental part of our national strategy, but also of regional and international attempts to build resilience to disasters and climate change in the Caribbean.
“We can only address the challenges that we are facing by working together as Caribbean nations. Our region is one of the least in greenhouse gas emission but we are confronted with some of the most severe effects of climate change. Meanwhile, access to international funding for mitigation and adaptation measures remains difficult.
As Caribbean nations, we are forever tied to each other “for better or for worse”. A great level of commitment and support is therefore essential for the growth of a resilient nation in particular in the area of finance. It is our vision to develop St. Maarten, into a SMART and Resilient country, but in order to accomplish this goal we must first be ‘willing and able to extend our support where needed to each of our sister countries and partners in resiliency. Together we are stronger, United we are a force. Therefore, we must speak with one voice.
Let us continue to work together, by instituting benchmarks towards excellence, establishing best practices to achieve effective Sustainable Development Goals and embark on innovations that foster a more financial/ economic resilient future for our people and build an integrated and empowered region as a whole. As the Prime Minister of St. Maarten, and your partner in the journey towards resiliency and the various fundamentals that it encompasses, I would like to close by encouraging everyone to believe in the ability to grow stronger by working together. It will not be easy but it definitely will be worth it. The road to resiliency is not a sprint, it is a marathon. Every step will count, so let us take the step in securing financial aspects of resiliency in order to save and protect our respective citizens to assure a united Caribbean” said Prime Minister Romeo Marlin at the conference.
The Understanding Risk (UR) Caribbean Conference offered a platform for Caribbean countries and regional organizations, for both public and private sectors, regional disaster risk management agencies, non-governmental organizations, multilateral development banks, international donors and practitioners across the Caribbean to collaborate, build capacity and discuss innovations in risk assessment.