‘Our devastation is so complete that our recovery has to be total’. This was Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit’s response after Hurricane Maria struck Dominica in September 2017. Affected nations across the Caribbean hit by Category 5 Hurricanes Maria and Irma were likened to ‘warzones’ as communities were left decimated.
Hurricanes are nothing new in the Caribbean: every year, they cause, on average, $835 million in losses. And our changing climate means we are likely to see more Category 4 and 5 hurricanes in the future. But while disasters are a common feature of the region's past, present and future, action for long-term resilience is needed now to avoid further human suffering, environmental degradation and the reversal of hard-fought development gains.
‘Building back better’ must be more than just a slogan. It requires action that combines short-term imperatives as well as long-term resilience needs.
In January, ODI convenes decision-makers and the world's leading experts on recovery and reconstruction in the Caribbean to discuss the policies needed at the national, regional and international level to avoid future losses. A high-level panel sets out their priorities for making 'building back better' a reality.
The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland of Dominica was appointed as the first woman and sixth Commonwealth Secretary-General in 2016. After growing up in East London, the Secretary-General trained as a lawyer and became the first black woman to be appointed a Queen’s Counsel in 1991, and at the age of 35 also the youngest woman to be made a QC. She was also the first black woman to be appointed Deputy High Court Judge, Recorder and Master of Middle Temple. She joined the House of Lords in 1997 as Baroness Scotland of Asthal going on to serve as a minister in the Foreign Office, Home Office and Lord Chancellor’s Department. In the House of Lords, Baroness Scotland undertook major reform of the criminal justice system, including the introduction of the Domestic Violence Crime and Victims Act. In 2007, she was appointed Attorney General – the first woman to hold the post since it was created in 1315. As Commonwealth Secretary-General, The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland is responsible for promoting and protecting the Commonwealth’s values; representing the Commonwealth publicly; and the management of the Commonwealth Secretariat.
Hon Roosevelt Skerrit is a Dominican politician who has been Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica since 2004, re-appointed in 2005, 2009, and 2014. He has also been the Member of Parliament for the Vieille Case constituency since 2000; re-elected in 2005, 2009, and 2014. Regionally, he has served as the Chairman of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and most recently as Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in 2016. He is the Political Leader of the Dominica Labour Party (DLP).
Ronald Jackson was appointed as the Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Management Agency (CDEMA) in 2013, having previously served as the Director General of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) in Jamaica from 2006. He has been extensively involved in disaster management at the national, regional and international level in various capacities. He was instrumental in the development of the Guidelines for Child-Friendly Disaster Management and Response, Reinstatement of the ODPEM Dedicated Communication Network and Revision of the Emergency Welfare Plan. In 2010 Mr. Jackson received a Certificate of Commendation from the Caribbean Community for his contribution to the rescue and recovery efforts in the aftermath of the January 2010 Haiti Earthquake.