Minister of Finance, Dr Nigel Clarke and World Bank Vice President for Latin America and the Caribbean, Jorge Familiar highlighted yesterday the importance of better understanding the nature of disaster risks and the need to have a robust financial plan to manage these risks at the public forum "Facing the Fiscal Risk of Natural Disasters".
The discussion focused on the lessons learned and how to better prepare against natural disaster risks and develop a suite of risk management tools in the context of the rising impact of climate change. The forum showcased Jamaica as a front runner among all small island development states in building resilience against natural disasters.
"The vulnerability of Jamaica to the devastation of natural disasters is well known. The Caribbean region is facing more frequent and more intense natural disasters and our small nations are vulnerable to the damage they inflict which is often disproportionate with regard to the size of our economies," said Minister of Finance, Nigel Clarke.
Jamaica, like other Caribbean states, is highly exposed to extreme weather events and climate risks. Natural disasters have cost Jamaica an estimated US$1.2 billion between 2001 and 2010. The damages and losses from Hurricane Ivan in 2004 alone exceeded US$350 million. The impact on people's lives can be severe, and it is often the poorest that suffer the most from these shocks which are frequently followed by income and productivity losses.
"If storms are going to be more severe, we will need to build resilient infrastructure and put in place a robust financial safety net. We cannot wait until the next storm hits. The whole population needs to understand risks. Today's public forum on disaster risk financing is an opportunity to find ways to minimize the impact of climate change and to help the country better manage risks and strengthen fiscal resilience," said World Bank Vice President for Latin America and the Caribbean, Jorge Familiar.
In his concluding remarks, Jorge Familiar congratulated Jamaica for its leadership in advancing the agenda of disaster risk financing and for developing a Financing of Disaster Risk Policy.
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