Newly appointed Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Ronald Jackson, has expressed high hopes that the upcoming Third Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Global Inter-Regional Conference, will address some of the core issues affecting countries.

He expressed this view during a recent courtesy call on Minister of the Environment and Drainage, Dr. Denis Lowe, and other ministry officials at their Hincks Street, St. Michael office.

Mr. Jackson warned that if SIDS countries did not get ???a handle??? on key issues such as climate change, they ran the risk of being defeated in meeting the targets of the Millennium Development Goals.

However, Dr. Lowe gave the assurance that a number of issues that reflected the reality of Caribbean SIDS were expected to be addressed during the SIDS meeting which was scheduled to take place from Monday, August 26, to Wednesday, August 28.

The Minister pointed out that the biggest threat to SIDS was how capable they were in managing disasters. ???In one moment all developmental gains could be squashed by one disaster,??? he stressed.

Dr. Lowe added that the SIDS meeting should allow Barbados to begin a conversation which will end in Apia, Samoa next year during the third International Conference on Sustainable Development of SIDS, with concrete outcomes.

He noted that discussion at meetings was presently centered around the social, economic and health impacts of trying to achieve sustainable development. ???[But], we are not speaking to the social changes which need to occur; we are not speaking to education awareness and indoctrinations. We have to keep pushing those issues which help the society to be more aware and responsible of disasters,??? the Minister stressed, adding SIDS would have an influence on the final agenda.

He told Mr. Jackson that when the conference was declared open, organisations such as CDEMA and the Ministry of the Environment and Drainage would have to put some issues on the table.

???I would say the same for civil society because they need space to put their issues. They feel the issues more than the policy makers since they are out there, so they also have to be a part of the meeting,??? Dr. Lowe explained.

He added that he was also asking for space to display some of its assets such as projects on biodiversity and land degradation and the work done by the Coastal Zone Management Unit. They all had outcomes which should be displayed,??? the Environment Minister opined.??

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