On April 12, Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan led an interagency team of United States senior officials and experts to U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) headquarters in Miami, Florida, where he hosted ministers and disaster management officials from 18 Caribbean countries, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, and the Regional Security System to launch the new “U.S.-Caribbean Resilience Partnership.”
In remarks at the ministerial, the Deputy Secretary said, "The broad range and depth of topics we will address during today’s discussions will build a strong foundation of partnership and collaboration around disaster risk reduction and response. Our task today is to bolster our existing efforts and explore new avenues for cooperation."
The U.S.-Caribbean Resilience Partnership is collaborative effort to build regional capacity to confront disaster response and promote resilience. It will strengthen the U.S.-Caribbean relationship and advance our shared interests in achieving greater resilience to natural disasters. The partnership involves a number of initiatives focused on understanding risks and enabling action, building resilient communities, and improving disaster response.
For example, to increase weather information-sharing and storm surge mapping, the United States, through funding provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), will roll out storm surge mapping to additional countries in the Caribbean, enabling governments to assess and mitigate flooding risks from tropical cyclones and tsunamis. The United States, through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), will continue to offer weather information sharing capabilities with Caribbean countries.
This partnership will also help Caribbean communities plan smarter and respond better. One way the the United States will do this is through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), who will share best practices and lessons learned from its recovery efforts in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and other parts of the United States recently impacted by hurricanes. Information sharing will include the use of industry standards and building codes to build back and improve the resilience of disaster-impacted facilities and infrastructure.
To help improve disaster response, the United States, through USAID, will offer skills development training to the Caribbean Red Cross National Societies and to their volunteers. The United States will also work with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency and Regional Security System to strengthen regional response capabilities. Ongoing USAID programs in the Caribbean help islands prepare for their annual hurricane seasons. USAID maintains prepositioned emergency supplies in Florida, Texas, and Haiti. USAID has trained on-call local disaster relief staff and consultants that monitor and collect information on potential disasters in the Caribbean and enable the U.S. government to respond immediately should a country request assistance.
These are just a few examples of ways the U.S.-Caribbean Resilience Partnership will strengthen the U.S.-Caribbean relationship and advance our shared interests in achieving greater resilience to natural disasters. You can read about additional projects under the initiative in this fact sheet.
The Deputy Secretary underscored, "The U.S.-Caribbean Resilience Partnership will require continued cooperation to move away from cycles of destruction, relief, and reconstruction. Together we can prevent situations in which natural disasters are compounded by exploitation and opaque deal-making that can weaken institutions and undermine vulnerable economies. We all come to the table today as neighbors and friends who understand that our successes and failures are intertwined."
In a joint statement following the ministerial, participating countries recognized our collective vulnerability to natural disasters, affecting the lives and the economies of the people and nations of the United States and the Caribbean and underscored our shared intent to "coordinate and operationalize ongoing and future efforts across all countries in the region; identify and resolve gaps, best practices, and lessons learned; and find innovative solutions through reducing risks from disasters and jointly increasing resilience."
Deputy Secretary Sullivan’s engagement with our Caribbean neighbors, with the support of a broad coalition of the U.S. government, reaffirms the United States’ strong commitment to the Caribbean.
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