The annual meeting of the National Disaster Management Council (NDMC) took on added significance this year with the signing of Memoranda of Understandings (MOUs) with the British Virgin Islands Airports Authority (BVIAA) and the Insurance Association of the British Virgin Islands (IABVI).
Both agreements formalise working relationships that have been established between the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) and the respective agencies and to support initiatives aimed at capacity building and building institutional as well as Territory-wide resilience.
In his first meeting as Chair of the NDMC, His Excellency, Governor John S. Duncan, OBE cited resource mobilisation as one of the critical aspects of the disaster management programme.
“As a Government, we cannot always provide all of the resources needed to manage and operate a disaster management programme. We must also look to forge partnerships with stakeholders in the private sector, locally, regionally and internationally. One way to solidify these partnerships is to enter into mutually beneficial agreements,” Governor Duncan stated.
The MOU with the IABVI is particularly important as it seeks to promote sustainable insurance as a way to reduce risk, develop innovative risk management solutions for individuals and businesses in the BVI.
“It is expected that through this agreement the IABVI and the DDM can work together to facilitate and promote greater incentives for businesses and individuals in the areas of business continuity and maintaining adequate protection of property from hazard impacts,” Governor Duncan expressed.
The MOU with the BVIAA will support the acquisition of data from weather stations owned and operated by the authority and facilitate access to seismic equipment.
“Historically, there has been a lack of documentation on the impact of climate change in the region due to an absence of data. Decisions about climate change adaptation are complex, costly and have long-term implications and they rely on quality data,” the Governor said, adding “There must be greater collaboration between the public and private sectors to capture data relating to weather, climate, water resources and agriculture so that political leaders and policy-makers have access to the best available evidence for effective decision-making.”
The MOUs were signed by His Excellency, Governor Duncan on behalf of the BVI Government along with Managing Director of the BVIAA, Mr. Denniston Fraser and President of the IABVI, Ms. Sarah Hatcher.
Both agreements are part of ongoing efforts by the DDM to further engage stakeholders in disaster risk reduction initiatives to improve resilience in the BVI.
Similar agreements have been signed with the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, BVI Red Cross and the three telecommunications providers in the BVI, CCT, Digicel and LIME.