– The former Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Jeremy M. Collymore was recently honoured by the Barbados Government for his outstanding contribution and leadership in Disaster Management at the national, regional and global levels. Collymore was honoured with the Barbados Service Star at the Awards of National Honours, on the celebration of Barbados’ 50th anniversary of Independence on November 30th, 2016.
In his quiet and appreciative demeanor Collymore said, “I am indeed grateful to be recognised for my work although I never really worked for an award.” Mr. Collymore, who has served the region for more than 30 years by leading disaster response coordination at the national and regional levels, is also a strong advocate for cultural change to building disaster resilience in the Caribbean, and continues to do so as an Honorary Research Fellow at the Institute for Sustainable Development, UWI. “I see myself as a flag bearer in the disaster management community. This is a discipline and a profession which, for a long time has been marginalized in public and private sector policy and programmes across the region.”
Mr. Collymore was the first and only Coordinator of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency (CDERA) established in 1991 as the lead CARICOM regional agency for disaster emergency response coordination. One of his major “pioneering” achievements included championing and leading the paradigm shift of regional disaster management thinking from a response tradition to a Comprehensive Disaster Management (CDM) approach. The adoption of the CDM approach by CARICOM in 2001 also resulted in Collymore overseeing the transition of CDERA to CDEMA (Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency) in 2009 and being appointed as the first Executive Director of CDEMA up until 2013 when he demitted office.
“I see this is as a signal of an awakening and recognition of the importance of disaster risk management considerations in our development space. I hope it encourages all of the development partners, practitioners and those who support this resilience agenda to keep up the march to the mission. I look forward to the day, in the not too distant future, when comprehensive risk management will become routine in all elements of our society and economy.”
In offering congratulations to Mr. Collymore on behalf of the CDEMA Coordinating Unit and the CDEMA System, Ronald Jackson, Executive Director of CDEMA said, “This award is a fitting honour and tribute to Jeremy recognising his outstanding and sterling contribution to the CDEMA system and disaster management in the Caribbean region and beyond. We as Disaster Risk Management practitioners applaud his efforts to establish the CARICOM Regional Disaster Management mechanism and brand”.