Solomon Islands is one of the countries in the Pacific attending the Pacific Platform for Disaster Risk Management meeting this week in Auckland.

The meeting will enable them to exchange experiences and best practices with a visiting delegation from the Caribbean. The similar geography, climate trends and limited size of populations of small island states in both regions creates similar challenges for disaster risk management.

The 3rd Session of the Pacific Platform for Disaster Risk Management (DRM) was opened yesterday by Dr. Russell Howorth of Secretariat of the Pacific Community's (SPC) SOPAC Division and a video message from Ms. Margareta Wahlstrom, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction. The 2011 conference is hosted by the New Zealand Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management in Auckland.

Over the course of the week-long conference, the Pacific Platform convenes national disaster managers, regional agencies, donors and other stakeholders involved in reducing the impact of disasters on this region's population. The meeting will review the progress of disaster risk management in the Pacific between 2009 and 2011, and work towards mainstreaming disaster risk considerations into national planning processes and integrating current regional policy frameworks for disaster risk management and climate change.

The Caribbean delegation is led by Jeremy Collymore, Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA). Later this week he will discuss how to build bridges for south-south cooperation, and will participate in a high-level dialogue on disaster management policy.

Allison Gordon from Jamaica's national Office for Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) stressed in her presentation yesterday that in Jamaica her office works closely with communities "to develop disaster plans that are actionable and useful, that are not just sitting on the shelf." She noted that the plan must be exercised, to see if what is on paper works in practice. Community level disaster preparedness activities in Jamaica, such as pre-positioning emergency supplies at the local level, resonated with Pacific countries such as Cook Islands.

Allison Wiggins from Barbados' Coastal Zone Management Unit (CZMU) will showcase an example from Barbados on coastal development control and conservation of the five natural lines of defense against sea-level related hazards. She will also share details of the Caribbean early warning system for tsunamis and will learn about early warning systems in place in the Pacific, which can provide some lessons for the Caribbean.

The Caribbean delegation was brought to the Pacific meeting under the auspices of the project "South-South Cooperation between Pacific and Caribbean Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) on Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management" which encourages a systematic sharing of knowledge and experiences to strengthen community safety and resilience to a range of natural disasters in both regions.

The project is coordinated by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Centre, with extensive support from the regional UNDP Caribbean Risk Management Initiative (CRMI). Partners in the Caribbean include Caribbean Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), INSMET (National Cuban Meteorological Institute), CARICOM Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) and University of the West Indies (UWI). Key partners from the Pacific region include South Pacific Regional Environmental Programme (SPREP), Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and University of the South Pacific (USP). National agencies in both regions also play an important role.

The South-South project is supported by the UNDP's Special Unit for South-South Cooperation and by the UNDP-Japan Partnership Fund.

Source: Press Release, UNDP Pacific Centre