Climate change hot topic Sunday

On Sunday the Cayman Islands Red Cross will be opening its doors to the public for Climate Change, Disaster Preparedness and the Future of the Cayman Islands.

The presentation, which will kick off a greater project funded by the Disaster Preparedness Unit of the European Commission for Humanitarian Aid Office, will be given by Pablo Suarez, PhD, who is a technical advisor for the Red Cross and Red Crescent Centre for Climate Change and Disaster Preparedness.

Mr. Suarez does research on climate and disasters, focusing on the use of information for decision making to reduce vulnerability.

He has consulted for UNEP, the GEF, the International Institute for Sustainable Development and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is a visiting scholar at Boston University’s Department of Geography and Environment and a guest scholar at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.

Mr. Suarez’s work addresses the issue of community level adaptation to climate change, as well as institutional integration across disciplines and geographic scales, and the use of innovative communication tools for awareness, advocacy and capacity building.

‘Climate change is the current it topic and we are very fortunate to have someone as versed in it as Mr. Suarez come to assist us in getting the information out to the community,’ said Carolina Ferreira, DIPECHO V project manager. ‘Mr. Suarez takes a topic that is often presented in a very scientific way and translates it so that it focuses on the actual impact on a personal and community level. The presentation is one that is geared to speak to all of us as individuals and leave us asking ourselves ‘what can I do?’ ‘ she said.

This is the very question that will drive the DIPECHO V project.

The International Federation of the Red Cross and the Disaster Preparedness Unit of the European Commission for Humanitarian Aid Office have identified five Red Cross societies to participate in this project, and the Cayman Islands Red Cross is the first branch of the British Red Cross to be selected for such a project.

‘The DIPECHO V project is very exciting and comes at a crucial time for us in Cayman,’ Ms Ferreira said. ‘This project is aimed at helping communities to better equip themselves to reduce the effects of disasters, both natural and man-made, by making them a part of the information gathering, analysis, and disaster preparedness planning process.’

The process will begin with a National Trainer’s Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment training on 25-29 July.

VCA, which was introduced as a part of the community based disaster programme by the IFRC in 1995, teaches participants how to use specific tools to gather information from the residents themselves about their perception of what the hazards and assets are in their community.

National trainers will take this tool back to their communities where they will teach it to community participants who will assist in the gathering of data of their own communities. After the data has been gathered, participants will have a chance to process it and present their findings back to the residents whom they interviewed and together the community will be able to create a community level disaster preparedness and response plan.

‘It is going to be a long process, but one that must be undertaken in order to get to where we need to be,’ Ms. Ferreira states. ‘We are hoping that Mr. Suarez’s presentation will serve as a catalyst to get people thinking about how they can make a difference as individuals, and hopefully drive them to take action,’ she adds.

Climate Change, Disaster Preparedness and the Future of the Cayman Islands will be held at 4pm Sunday at the Cayman Islands Red Cross headquarters on Huldah Avenue. Admission is free. For more information contact 949-6785 ext. 27.

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