Organization: World Bank

Session Leads: Vivien Deparday and Joaquin Toro

Date and Time: 11:45 AM – 1:00 PM | SB First Citizens Room

Description: As the scale and frequency of natural hazards in the Caribbean are rising, island populations are becoming increasingly more vulnerable. There is a demand among local government leaders for detailed, up-to-date geographic data on the built environment to better manage and respond to disaster risks, but many gaps exist between what is urgently needed and currently available. When it does exist such data is often outdated and housed in different silos of government, making it hard to access and utilize in times of crisis.

While the nine island nations that comprise the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) are in close proximity to one another, there is limited coordination and connectivity between them with regard to disaster planning and response. This isolation is further compounded by the logistical challenges of traveling from one island to another. As many islands are impacted by the same natural hazard events such as hurricanes, there is a need for more regional integration, to share experiences, learn from one another and coordinate disaster management and response efforts.

As the need for risk data grows, there is a complimentary need for local expertise to collect and maintain such data, and to support government disaster risk management needs in the future. Due to limited opportunities in region, many of those with technical skills leave to find work elsewhere. While university communities are often a valuable source of such talent, very few exist within the OECS region. This challenge of identifying local talent makes it difficult to cultivate and maintain a sustainable workforce of citizens on the island that can support government needs.

To better respond to this challenge the idea of the session is to discuss what tools are available and how the Bank and other partners can help to:

  • Simple data tools that can be quickly interpreted to support decision-making;
  • Training on how to use such data;
  • Better regional coordination among local government leaders; and
  • The cultivation of a regional cohort of local technologists to serve as a sustainable workforce to lead these efforts in the future.