Denise Antonio, UNDP Resident Representative for Jamaica, Belize, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, The Bahamas, and Turks and Caicos.

Press Statement by Denise Antonio, UNDP Resident Representative Jamaica, Belize, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, The Bahamas, and Turks and Caicos. 

December 10, 2019.

"I stand here today to reaffirm the support of the United Nations Development Programme for the Government and people of The Bahamas. This commitment is demonstrated both through the pledge of financial support and the presence of a team of professionals on the ground, who have been working diligently, in collaboration with the Government to help drive the recovery efforts. Crisis prevention and recovery is one of the key pillars of work for the UNDP and we routinely collaborate with partners and critical stakeholders to reduce the vulnerability and increase the resilience of impacted communities.

The UNDP’s Bahamas Mission is intended to facilitate disaster recovery in the short, medium and long term, but it is also unique in that, for the first time, the UNDP is actively seeking to engage the private sector and philanthropic individuals who are well-poised to help finance the recovery of this country.

The recent announcement of a Pledge Conference being planned for January 13, 2020, represents a unique opportunity to align pledges of support for the reconstruction and recovery of the affected islands to the recovery priorities which will be announced here today by the Most Honourable Prime Minister. It is imperative that we collectively develop a mechanism to facilitate this alignment, as part of the new modality for development financing for Caribbean countries like The Bahamas.

We are equally committed to securing the funds required to finance recovery projects, and to ensuring that the people of The Bahamas are the ultimate beneficiaries. The level of devastation experienced on Abaco and Grand Bahama inevitably means that recovery will be a long, arduous road but the UNDP is confident that with the right mechanisms in place, we can, in partnership with stakeholders, achieve the outlined objectives.

We therefore use this opportunity to appeal for the support of all stakeholders who are equally keen to create relevant partnerships that will help to advance the recovery of the affected islands. I am pleased to report today that the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation has already confirmed its full support for the pledging conference, and we are exploring similar partnerships with other private sector organisations.

Local capacity building is also a welcome spin-off of UNDP’s work. Through the invaluable partnerships created by our involvement on the ground, there is tremendous opportunity for enhancing the capacity of the local population. This potential for capacity building also impacts positively on the country’s long-term development prospects, relative to crisis prevention and increased resilience.

In advancing disaster recovery, one of the critical tools employed by the UNDP is the empowerment of the affected population. The UNDP, in collaboration with UNICEF, plans to inject financial resources into the affected communities through a cash for work programme that empowers those most affected. This will help to advance debris clearance and management in Abaco.

Ladies and gentlemen, recovery must go beyond our response to an event. True recovery begins with the actions taken to reduce vulnerability to risks and improve resilience, while at the same time, reducing the time it takes to recover from the impact of a disaster.

But even as we pursue this multi-dimensional approach to recovery, we note the increasingly debilitating impact of climate change. Hurricane Dorian is simply the latest in a string of examples that illustrate what is fast becoming the new norm - increasingly powerful and destructive storms that illustrate the harsh reality of climate change. The almost immeasurable devastation inflicted on Caribbean countries constitutes a wake-up call for the world to recognize the validity of this threat and the urgency of the required actions that will help to mitigate future impact. The UNDP is committed to doing its part.

In closing, I assure you that we will continue to work with the Government and people of The Bahamas, not only to further propel the recovery efforts in the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian but to also help ensure that the country advances the Sustainable Development Goals for the benefit of all people.

I Thank you!"

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