By the Caribbean Journal staff
Former United States President Bill Clinton’s Clinton Global Initiative has launched a major initiative aimed at spearheading recovery efforts in islands affected by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria last fall.
The new Clinton Global Initiative Action Network on Post-Disaster Recovery has announced a series of eight unified programs that seek to help islands that were hit particularly hard, including Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and Dominica.
“In the wake of the terrible hurricanes, the people of these islands have shown a remarkable resilience and a resolve to do long-term work and build back better,” Clinton said at the launch event held at the University of Miami.
The network of hundreds of regional and global leaders has launched a series of programs include a drive to replant more than 750,000 trees and restore Puerto Rico’s natural habitat; restoring school infrastructure and housing in Dominica; improving mental health in Puerto Rico; a move to improve children’s health in the US Virgin Islands; a $600 million climate resilience agency in Dominica; primary healthcare for school-aged children; solar power for primary health clinics in Puerto Rico and medical supplies for Puerto Rico’s elderly.
Dominica’s is easily the largest project in the group, a plan that is part of Dominica’s stated commitment to build the “first climate resilient nation in the world.”
But the work is not just about previous storms — it’s about working to improve readiness for the next ones.
The announcement comes in the wake of a high-profile visit by Clinton to the region to examine recovery efforts.
“When I went to Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Dominica, I was struck by both the determination and the positive attitude of the people there,” Clinton said. “We are here to do what we can to help these people build communities that are stronger, safer, more prosperous, and more resilient.”
Accordingly, Clinton also announced a “Commitment to Action” in development, urging members of the new Action Network to preposition relief supplies for this upcoming hurricane season, which will begin in June.
According to estimates, every $1 spent on storm preparedness saves $4 in response and recovery spending.
“If we do not address the fundamental issues contributing to climate change, we’re going to see a greater intensity of disasters like Hurricane Maria and Irma,” said Roosevelt Skerrit, Prime Minister of Dominica, who was on hand for the launch. “If the world continues to fail to address climate change, we must not only build back better, but we must improve the national resiliency of our islands. This meeting of the Clinton Foundation is helping to ensure that our efforts to become the first climate resilient nation in the world are system-wide, integrated and coordinated.”
Particularly in recent years, Clinton has become one of the Caribbean’s most outside advocates.
That was highlighted by an initiative launched in 2015 aiming to help the Caribbean in its push to develop green energy regionally.