Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, Hon. Dr. Morais Guy, says that vulnerable states in the Caribbean and Latin America must commence “serious plans” for the implementation of disaster risk management policies. The move, he said, is critical in confronting the effects of climate change, and predications for more powerful and intense hurricanes. Dr. Guy was delivering the keynote address at the opening of the 7th Annual Caribbean Conference on Comprehensive Disaster Management on Tuesday (December 4) at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa in St. James. The five-day day conference, organised by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), seeks to come up with measures to build the resilience of small island developing states to the effects of climate change. Dr. Guy stated that locally, the Government has committed to strengthening the capacity of communities, establishing a Ministry with responsibility for climate change; a Climate Change Advisory Board; and a Climate Change Department. He noted that the issue is also factored in all aspects of development planning. “Jamaica has also received a grant of $850 million (US$10 million) from the Adaptation Fund Board, for the establishment of a Climate Change Adaptation Programme. This programme is intended to introduce measures to protect livelihood and food security in communities that are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The project will also focus on improving land and water management for the agriculture sector, strengthen coastal protection and build institutional and local capacities for climate change adaptation in selected areas,” Dr. Guy informed. He commended CDEMA for “the work that it is doing in putting small island developing states in a state of preparedness for the disasters that threaten our very existence”. He urged that, as stakeholders seek to find avenues to build disaster resilience over the course of the conference, “we will not be limited by our smallness of size, but to be visionary and monumental in our projected outcomes.” “We must establish the context in the face of the challenges that we face, because it is facing these challenges squarely that we will be able to determine the best measures to move us forward as successful nations … there are few options to reduce the occurrence and intensity of most natural hazards. As such, greater emphasis needs to be placed on hazard risk management activities and programmes for reducing existing and future vulnerability to damage and loss,” Dr. Guy stated.