A growing consensus that the Caribbean region impacted by hurricanes Irma and Maria has to rebuild differently this time was echoed by former President Bill Clinton at the launch of his Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Action Network on Post-Disaster Recovery at the University of Miami on April 3.

The initiative is aimed at helping the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, along with other islands such as Dominica and Barbuda, obtain long-term investments to aid in their storm recovery, according to the Miami Herald.

The CGI event, attended by several Caribbean leaders and more than 350 representatives from government, the private sector, nonprofits and experts in specific fields, explored partnerships to "build back better a region devastated by hurricanes last year," according to Clinton.

"The Caribbean region has many treasures, yet it's one of the most vulnerable region in terms of climate change. This is worth saving," Clinton said.

Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit urged the audience to embrace climate change and to help invest in the rebuilding of resilient systems.

"We have a long way to go because we are going to build back," Skerrit said.

More than 5,000 new homes were needed on Dominica after Hurricane Maria.

Kenneth Mapp, governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands, pointed out the beaches in the territory are being eroded. "I live climate change," he said.

San Juan's mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz called for a "power transformation."

"Electricity is the great equalizer," she said, and called for new technology to create micro-energy grids to avoid a repeat of the blackout.

Several commitments were announced during the day-long event, including the Climate Resilience Agency of Dominica (CREAD) to fund, design and coordinate climate-resilient projects to make Dominica the first climate resilient nation in the world; the American Federation of Teachers, Airlink and the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands to conduct health screenings for schoolchildren in the USVI, and Americares to help address mental health challenges in Puerto Rico over the next 18 months.


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