Timothy Hodge, Jeremy Collymore and Phyllis Fleming-Banks.
ANGUILLA–Guest speaker Jeremy Collymore was the featured presenter at Anguilla’s Social Security Board’s fourth annual James Ronald Webster Memorial lecture series which was held in conjunction with the University of the West Indies (UWI), Anguilla Open Campus. He addressed a packed audience at the La Vue Conference Room, South Hill on Thursday evening, November 1.
Collymore is the advisor for disaster resilience in the office of the Vice Chancellor of UWI and former executive director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), which is the regional inter-governmental agency for disaster management within the Caribbean. Timothy Hodge, Director of the Anguilla Social Security Board, introduced Collymore and highlighted the linkage of Collymore’s lecture entitled “A Resilient Caribbean: Context, Concept and Policy” with the Social Security Board’s celebration theme, “Supporting a Culture of National Resilience.”
Collymore’s discussion centred on the necessity for integrated, regional pro-active polices, processes and governance to respond effectively and professionally to the financial, social and infrastructure damage caused by increasing regional disasters. He said, “Resilience is not a reaction; it is an investment that must be addressed by thought and action. It is time to move from a reactive mode to a pro-active one.”
He said, “The Caribbean region has a long history of disaster experiences, and the impact on affected communities has consistently debilitated national development. These things have been coming with such frequency that even though they may not be totally devastating, they are causing significant losses to the economy and society.” His slide presentation graphically highlighted the increased frequency of regional disasters which have significantly increased from the 1970s to the 1990s, and which have, according to the Caribbean Development Bank, cost the region over EC $27 Billion.
Collymore said, “Disasters put a huge stress on governments as the government becomes the insurer of last resort, and for many that last resort is the first resort. We need to invest more in basic disaster planning as we are beginning to see the effects of climate change on temperature and rainfall. What we understood before to be our seasons are no longer there.”
Collymore said climate change poses a threat to our society, and it is no longer about recovering, but instead it’s about surviving. He said it is time to transition from concern to action and to “bounce forward as opposed to building back.”
Phyllis Fleming-Banks, Manager of the UWI Open Campus, Anguilla, thanked Collymore for his presentation, noting that he had given all present much food for thought.