Caribbean leaders reflect on takeaways from Clinton post disaster event

It was a meeting of the minds at the University of the Virgin Islands where panelists came across this stage from throughout the Caribbean to share their thoughts on the resiliency and preparedness ahead of the next hurricane season. 

“I think the conference is timely,” Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism for Jamaica said.

Bartlett was one of the leaders at Action Network meeting in St. Thomas. 

He said the event comes after two hurricanes that redefined the way they look at preparedness.

Former President Bill Clinton closed the meeting Tuesday. He convened it with the help of the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative to help Caribbean nations trade ideas on ways to become more resilient. 

Clinton said the region has the potential to be an example for the rest of the world.

Others at the meeting agreed.

“The need for Caribbean countries to come together and tackle disaster management together, we can’t be in this fight alone,” Leona Marlin-Romeo, Prime Minister of Saint Marrten said.

The two daylong meeting in the Virgin Islands was filled with various sessions focusing on issues impacting the region, not only strong hurricanes but other major emergencies. 

“Even though we are not in the danger zone for hurricanes we have other challenges like the crisis in Venezuela. The important thing is to have a resilient economy, a resilient a solid foundation on which you build the country,” Evelyn Wever-Croes, Prime Minister of Aruba said.

Now what’s next is what comes from this historic meeting. 

The University of the Virgin Islands, who played host to the CGI event, already has ideas coming together. 

“We agreed and spent a lot of work thinking through it to create a center for resiliency and sustainability because we tend to think of resiliency as how do we build buildings back stronger, but it is more than that. It includes the people, the eco system, how we just live on a daily basis,” Dr. David Hall, President of the University of the Virgin Islands added.

Dr. Hall said that center is on track to open this fall. 

As for the other ideas, Clinton said it is up to these leaders and the people in this room to make it a reality. 

“So I got a follow up list as long as my arm,” Clinton said. “I’ll try to do my part and I hope you’ll do yours.”

Now they take those ideas back to their own individual islands as they work to be one Caribbean prepared for the next storm.