In his recent visit to Bahamas, Secretary-General António Guterres witnessed first-hand the destruction wrought by Hurricane Dorian and he urged the international community to accelerate climate action because, “countries like The Bahamas that do not contribute to climate change - but are in the first line of the devastating impacts of climate change - deserve international support, to be able to fully respond to the humanitarian emergency, but also for the reconstruction and the building resilience of the communities on the islands.” UNDP fully stands by this sentiment.
Hurricane Dorian – a Category 5 storm and one of the most powerful Atlantic storms on record – caused an untold loss of lives and structural damage in the Bahamas. Once the immediate crisis response is completed, recovery will take many months and possibly years.
With the Bahamas government and the leadership of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), UNDP is working alongside our UN sister agencies to support affected communities to address both their immediate and long-term recovery needs.
We have already deployed recovery experts to contribute to rapid recovery assessments and to support the organization of the recovery efforts. We are doing this in close consultation with critical regional organizations such as the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).
Today, I want to announce that UNDP is contributing one million US dollars for the recovery efforts in the Bahamas. These resources will guarantee technical assistance in early recovery interventions for crucial areas. They will also help promote environmentally sustainable disaster resilient infrastructure; develop national and local capacities for disaster-risk reduction and recovery; and support livelihoods and economic recovery of most vulnerable communities.
Dorian is another call for action on climate change. Local communities are on the front lines of this challenge due to their dependency on ecosystem services and climate-sensitive resources for their livelihoods. Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and their people are particularly vulnerable to extreme weather events and the adverse impacts of climate change. The Caribbean is the second most hazard-prone region. With the effects of climate change, our partners in the region have been experiencing increased vulnerability, only likely to worsen in the following years.
The previous and recent hurricane seasons have laid bare the deficiencies of the international development finance architecture for countries like those in the Caribbean. UNDP has long been advocating and calling on the international community to improve international financing arrangements for the Caribbean – and all climate-vulnerable states – as well as scale-up innovations in lending and insurance for the region. Now is the moment to build climate resilience and translate our words and promises into actions, and recognize that we are dealing with a “new normal” and we cannot wait for a moment to build climate resilience. UNDP is fully committed to playing its part.