Caribbean Branch of the International Council on Archives (CARBICA) hosted a meeting in Philipsburg, St Maarten to effect regional approaches to disaster recovery and heritage preservation.

In light of the devastation wrought in the Caribbean as a result of the 2017 tropical Atlantic hurricane season, which saw the passage of Hurricanes Irma and Jose, and the perpetual threat to archives and heritage sites located within this sub-region.

The workshop was organized by Mrs. Rita Tjien Fooh, President of CARBICA and the workshop programme was led by Dr. Emile G Lumas, ICA Expert Group on Emergency Management and Disaster Preparedness and Margaret Crockett, Archives and Records Management Consultant.

Participants came from the Dutch Caribbean islands of Aruba, Curacao, Sint Maarten, Trinidad, Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica and the Virgin Islands. David Brown, from Jamaica was present in his capacity as Global Facilitator to UNESCO’s 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. His presentation focused on the threat of Climate Change to Caribbean Intangible Cultural Heritage. At the end of the workshop, participants agreed to form the Caribbean Heritage Emergency Network (CHEN) which will become the mechanism to mitigate the effects of natural and man-made disasters on Caribbean heritage and intangible culture.

Currently discussions are ongoing with Experts and heritage professionals across the region to develop a master list of Caribbean heritage professionals whose skills and resources can be mobilised in pre-disaster and post disaster events. It is the vision of this group for Caribbean heritage to be more earnestly protected in times of disaster, particularly at a time when natural and manmade disasters are becoming the new normal.

The Caribbean Branch of the International Council for Archives, in association with the Government of Sint Maarten, the UNESCO Cluster Office for the Caribbean, and the International Council on Archives staged this working conference on Regional Approaches to Disaster Recovery and Heritage Preservation.