HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 594: 14 December2011

Dynamic performance by Brown at Trinidad conference
Hon Minister Mark Brown and Charles Carlson Director of Emergency Management Cook Islands (EMCI) returned to Rarotonga on Monday morning after attending the 6th Annual Caribbean Conference on Comprehensive Disaster Management held in Port of Spain, Trinidad.
The conference, which was conducted under the theme “Reflection, Introspection and Moving Forward,” brought together disaster management professionals from Trinidad and Tobago, the region and countries as far as Cook Islands.
Key note speakers, featured the dynamic Margareta Wahlström, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General on Disaster Risk Reduction and Dr. Simon Young, CEO of the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Fund; Hon Adriel Brathwaite, Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs, Barbados; Hon Mark Brown, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Cook Islands; Hon Colin Partap, Minister in the Ministry of National Security; and Jeremy Collymore, Executive Director of CDEMA.
In her presentation, Margareta Wahlström stressed the importance of risk reduction and public education. She noted that more resources should be placed on mitigation and preparedness in order to minimise the cost of response and recovery. Furthermore, she supported the attempts of governments to decentralise responsibilities such as disaster management, but noted that governments cannot decentralise without providing adequate resources to the lower levels.
Hon Mark Brown was dynamic in his presentation and reminded all attendees that “Disaster Risk Management and Climate Change Adaptation are development issues which cannot be viewed separately from economic, social and cultural issues.” He also advised all disaster management professionals and policy-makers that “we must embark on strategies to inform and guide planning and implementation.”
The Minister also emphasised the importance of integrating Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation right across sector plans and most importantly that it must be part of government’s National Sustainable Development Plan.
“We went to the conference with an open mind wanting to learn from the Caribbean experience,” said Minister Brown. “After listening to the various speakers we realised that we do have the same challenges except we in the Cook Islands have been very proactive in taking up the challenge to ensure a safe and resilient Cook Islands.”
According to Carlson, having Minister Brown at the conference helped gained the respect of participating countries including the donor partners to what the Cook Islands is doing in the area of disaster risk management.
“Having that political support in ensuring a safe and resilient Cook Islands certainly makes my work easier,” said Carlson, “Sometimes we don’t realise how much we have achieved until you travel overseas and realise we are streaks ahead of these countries. “
Carlson spoke at the conference about our institutional framework in the Cook Islands including lessons learnt from the five cyclones in 2005 and Tropical Cyclone Pat in 2009. Carlson also spoke about the integration of our traditional knowledge into disaster risk management. A Cook Islands documentary on Traditional Knowledge for Cyclones in Mauke was one of the four documentaries shown at their film festival.
“At the end of the film festival, the only topic they discussed was about traditional knowledge,” said Carlson, “I was also amazed when people started sharing their experience on traditional knowledge that has been passed on from generation to generation.”
Minister Brown and Carlson acknowledged the support from UNDP in Fiji and to the CDEMA for inviting them to the conference.-EMCI media release

Herald Issue 554 09 March
- Norm exposes Trio of Doom
- Briefs from PM’s media conference Tuesday
- Tourism Industry ponders $5 million draft strategy
- Norman George resigns from Cook Islands Party
- Letter of Resignation from CIP
- Norman selfish says Prime Minister

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