April 24, 2019 —
On April 12, I had the honor of leading an interagency team of United States senior officials and experts to U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) headquarters in Miami, Florida, where I hosted ministers and disaster management officials from 18 Caribbean countries, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, and the Regional Security System to launch the new “U.S.-Caribbean Resilience Partnership.”
At the Ministerial, I underscored the United States’ commitment to enhancing our cooperation with the Western Hemisphere and the Caribbean, in particular. In fact, we brought ten different U.S. Government organizations to deliver on our commitment to enhanced engagement. I made clear that our nations are bound by a shared history, common interests, and deep social ties. As we look to strengthen those bonds, we continue our focus on promoting prosperity, security, health, education, and energy.
The Ministerial, and more importantly, the launch of this new initiative was borne out of multiple conversations with Caribbean leaders since I began my tenure as Deputy Secretary of State and most recently, in September 2018, at the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Week in New York. The United States and our Caribbean partners agree that the need for sustained collaboration on disaster response and resilience is critical. In 2017 -- my first year as Deputy Secretary– we had one of the worst hurricane seasons on record. The U.S.-Caribbean Resilience Partnership will strengthen the U.S.-Caribbean relationship and advance our shared interests in achieving greater resilience to natural disasters. The Partnership calls for the entire region to coordinate on every level and work together to better understand risk and enable effective action, build resilient communities, and improve our disaster response to save lives.
Out of our discussions last week, we also established a new U.S.-Caribbean Resilience Partnership Working Group. This Working Group is evidence of the United States’ and participating Caribbean countries’ commitment to continue coordination and operationalize ongoing and future efforts across all countries in the region; identify and resolve gaps, best practices, and lessons learned; and find innovative solutions through reducing risks from disasters and jointly increasing resilience.
I look forward to working with my colleagues to bolster our existing efforts and explore new avenues for collaboration.