Regional Symposium on Shock-Responsive Social Protection in the Caribbean

This event was livestreamed on socialprotection.org and can be accessed through this link.

Large-scale shocks in the Caribbean have become more severe, recurrent and long-term. This poses formidable challenges for the region’s small island nations to protect people from collective risks and maintain economic, social and developmental gains. In addressing these challenges, Caribbean countries have made a paradigm shift from a reactive to an anticipatory approach to disaster risk management that focuses on building resilience, safeguarding lives and livelihoods against multiple risk scenarios and on tackling vulnerability through strengthened social protection systems and programmes.

Social protection consists of policies and programmes designed to protect people from crisis and stresses throughout their lives. It is recognised as a vital mechanism for accelerating progress towards the internationally agreed sustainable development goals. It is also a key instrument to strengthen people’s ex-ante risk-management capacity. Concurrently, a growing body of evidence demonstrates the pivotal role that social protection can play in responding ex-post to a wide range of emergencies through relief assistance (i.e. cash, vouchers, in-kind transfers), and in promoting recovery once the immediate crisis is over.

Following a devastating 2017 hurricane season, for example, the British Virgin Islands and the Commonwealth of Dominica leveraged and adapted national social protection systems and programmes to respond to the needs of impacted-populations. The use of social protection in those responses, while critical to address the needs of crisis-affected people, was not necessarily planned. The potential added value of social protection for disaster risk management depends on a number of factors and analysing options and implementing measures ahead of a crisis hits is critical to better prepare for and inform the use of social protection for future responses.

It is in the context that the United Nations World Food Programme, in collaboration with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and the Government of Turks and Caicos Islands, is convening the first regional symposium on Shock-Responsive Social Protection in the Caribbean. The meeting brings together Ministers, senior government officials, and representatives of regional and international organisations to explore issues, options and best practices for building regional resilience in the face of existing hazards. It aims to introduce innovative perspectives and approaches in the realms of disaster risk reduction, public policy, social protection and climate risk financing, and to inform future line of actions for a more integrated developmental and humanitarian ecosystem in the Caribbean.

The symposium is part of the United Nations World Food Programme Regional Emergency Preparedness and Response programme, in support of CDEMA and Participating States to minimise the impact of shocks on vulnerable populations, by strengthening systems and technical capacities for a more effective, cost-efficient and predictable response to emergencies. The event is on invitation only.

Join the conference online using the hashtags #WFPCaribbean #socialprotection