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Strengthening Disaster Risk Reduction Governance in Trinidad and Tobago”


Today, October 13th 2020, Trinidad and Tobago joins with the international community to commemorate the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction (IDDRR). Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) are the initiatives taken to reduce and manage existing risks while preventing or mitigating new risks.

In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly officially declared that this day will be recognised annually to promote global progress towards achieving the goals identified in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030). This Framework is the global strategy for achieving a substantial reduction of disaster mortality, property damage and loss of livelihoods, which the Government of Trinidad and Tobago has adopted.

This year IDDRR places focus on strengthening disaster risk governance, which aims to reduce the loss of lives, persons and businesses affected by disasters and losses to the economy. This goal is therefore consistent with Government’s commitment as outlined in the Vision 2030 Plan, for the delivery of Good Governance and Service Excellence, and for the Environment to be placed at the Centre of Social and Economic Development.

The Ministry of National Security, through the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) and other arms of the Government, has been working tirelessly to strengthen Trinidad and Tobago’s disaster risk governance capacity. In this regard, recognising the multitude of traditional and emerging threats our country faces that ranges from flooding to climate change, work has commenced on developing a Comprehensive Disaster Management Policy that will take into account, all stages of the disaster management cycle. This policy will be enabled by new legislation that will broaden the scope of our current law, the Disaster Measures Act (1978). To support implementation of these strategic instruments, a multi-sectoral Country Work Programme is simultaneously being developed.

These are some of the projects that the Ministry is undertaking in collaboration with local, regional and international bodies such as the Trinidad and Tobago Red Cross Society, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency.

The collaborations therefore affirm the Ministry’s recognition that while the State provides leadership in reducing disaster risks, responsibility must be a shared one and success could only be accomplished by an All-of-Society approach. To bolster this concept, earlier this year the Cabinet agreed to institute a National Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Month. This will be commemorated annually in May and comes just before the commencement of the Wet and Hurricane Seasons.  This initiative provides yet another avenue for all persons and agencies to become involved in DRR at the community, local and national levels.

One thing the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us is that our nation is not immune to disasters. Hence our current experience of managing this pandemic provides us all with a real-time example of the importance of good governance systems. I therefore wish on this International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction to encourage individuals, communities and organisations, to let us work even closer together to identify and reduce those disaster risks that can threaten our blessed country.

Together, we can make Trinidad and Tobago a more disaster-resilient nation.

The Honourable Stuart Young, MP

Minister of National Security

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