Resilience and sustainability assumed full focus at the Regional Parliamentary retreat earlier this week as parliamentarians from 15 Caribbean countries, and officials from over a dozen global development agencies, gathered to discuss initiatives aimed at enhancing robust systems in food security, health care and financial sustainability in the region.
At a news conference at the J Hamilton Maurice Room, at Tower D of the Parliament building on Thursday, Speaker of the House of Representatives Bridgid Annisette-George hailed this year’s retreat a success. She said it has enhanced relations between Caribbean states and expressed optimism that it marked the beginning of a more proactive, regional approach to climate change and the environment. “We have had various agencies attend the retreat and help us understand the issues that we must look at as Parliamentarians. We must recognise that our actions have consequences so that we can look at things differently and hold ourselves to a higher standard and acknowledge climate change.”
Asked what commitments were made by local Parliamentarians, Annisette-George said a legislative approach to disaster risk management and response was key to success in preparing this country for natural disasters.
“From our end, as legislators, we gave the commitment that we can deliver on and in terms of how our Joint Select Committees function, we intend to carry forward the theme of disaster risk management and reduction.”
Parliamentarian from the British Virgin Islands, Melvin Turnbull offered also expressed confidence the retreat would yield long-term relations with respect to enhancing growth and sustainability, with particular emphasis on climate change. He said while he was pleased with the response to the Virgin Islands by regional and international entities, the time has come for the region to come together in the interest of environmental protection.
“One of the things that we have not done very well as countries, is uniting as a Caribbean community and list what we need as small island territories affected by hurricanes. If we stand together through a united front, it is much easier for us to receive the aid that we need and therefore put into the place the systems discussed in this retreat. We can work together and build on the strengths of past disasters.”