Minister Pickersgill Hails Caribbean Meteorological Organization

By Chris Patterson 
Photo by: JIS PhotographerMinister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Robert Pickersgill (left), greets Director of the Sustainable Development Unit, Caribbean Community Secretariat, Garfield Barnwell, just before the start of the 54th Minister’s meeting of the Caribbean Meteorological Council, this morning (November 24), at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston. Others sharing in the moment from (second left) are: Coordinating Director, Caribbean Meteorological Council, Tyrone Sutherland; and Director of Development and Regional Activities Division, World Meteorological Organization, Robert Masters.

Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, has lauded the Caribbean Meteorological Organization (CMO) for its role in shaping policies to guide decisions on disaster adaptation and mitigation within the region.

“The scientific knowledge and expertise that members of the CMO possess, places it at the frontlines of disaster mitigation, which protects the lives and livelihoods of our citizens,” he said.

Minister Pickersgill was addressing the 54th Minister’s Meeting of the Caribbean Meteorological Council this morning (Nov. 24), at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston.

He said the CMO is actively involved in the coordination and implementation of a number of climate-related projects for the Caribbean in which Jamaica actively participates, including the upgrading of meteorological facilities in relation to climate change.

He also cited projects on the regional effects of the El Nino phenomenon; implementation of the Caribbean component of the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) projects designed to improve regional freshwater assessment and management; as well as projects for the increase and sustainability of regional agricultural productivity through improved applications of weather and climate information.

Mr. Pickersgill said the work of the CMO is important in developing future strategies to address the impact of climate change on small island developing states.

He noted that weather and climate data are an enormously valuable category of government information especially since countries are experiencing an increase of extreme weather events, including hurricanes, flooding and drought.

“Over the past three decades, natural disasters have been responsible for over two million deaths worldwide, and caused losses of over $1.5 trillion dollars,” he noted.

Within the Jamaican context, he informed that between 2001 and 2010, the island has been affected by one disaster event per year.

“In Latin America and the Caribbean, Jamaica is listed as having the second highest economic risk exposure to two or more hazards according to the Natural Disaster Hotspot Study done by the World Bank in 2008,” he noted.

Mr. Pickersgill said the impact of disasters has been significant on Jamaica’s economic progress, significantly affecting the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). “In the 10-year period between 1998 and 2008, the disasters have cost the country over US$14 billion per year,” he pointed out.

The CMO undertakes the coordination of the joint scientific activities of the National Meteorological Services of the Caribbean region, the establishment of joint technical and systems, the provision of joint training facilities, and the promotion of a reliable severe weather warning system to safeguard the region.

It also provides support and advice to governments in the development of their meteorological and hydro meteorological services and in dealing with issues of an international nature affecting weather, water and climate; and represents the regional meteorological community’s interests in relation to international civil aviation matters.

The CMO also works closely with regional agencies involved in disaster preparedness, response and relief.

The CMO comprises 16 CARICOM member states. They are: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Monsterrat, St. Kitts/Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turks and Caicos Islands.


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