News Releases

UWI Diplomatic Academy Module Breaks New Ground in Disaster Diplomacy Training

For Release Upon Receipt - June 22, 2021

St. Augustine

The UWI’s Diplomatic Academy of the Caribbean (DAOC) recently delivered a first of its kind, four-day online training module, which ended on June 17th. Altogether, 14 primarily regional diplomats and disaster management officials took part in and successfully completed the training. Titled ‘Caribbean Small States and Disaster Diplomacy’, the module attracted participants from a number of countries, including The Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Trinidad and Tobago.  

The module placed particular attention on the drivers of risk in the Caribbean, with a focus on the increasingly interrelated or systemic nature of risks that regional small states face. It framed disaster diplomacy in the context of: (i) disaster-related activities, which include prevention, mitigation, preparation, response and recovery; and (ii) the theory, evidence and practical applications of foreign policy and diplomacy vis-à-vis Caribbean small states in the international system.

Throughout the module, participants examined the dynamics and institutional architecture of disaster risk management-related decision-making within the region and in relation to external actors. They benefitted from broad exposure to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 (Sendai Framework), as well as other related United Nations 2030 Agenda agreements.

“This innovative module is aimed at diplomats and civil servants, providing those with the knowledge and skills needed to make strategic, well-informed decisions to address the highly complex disaster risks that Caribbean small states face,” said DAOC Manager, Dr. Nand C. Bardouille. He underscored that: “At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic’s wide-ranging impact has made resilience building in the Caribbean all the more complex and challenging, the DAOC is doing its part to help build salient capacity, emerging as a leader in disaster diplomacy training from a Caribbean perspective.” 

Speaking on behalf of the inaugural cohort of participants in this module, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction of The Bahamas, Mr. Carl Smith, commended the DAOC on designing and mounting this “timely” module-training programme. Participants welcomed the module’s practical and skills-based approach, contending that it augurs well for their upskilling in disaster diplomacy. They also conveyed that the incorporation of peer-to-peer learning lent itself to building colleague-based networks, which participants envision leveraging as alumni of the training programme.

The module’s facilitator, Dr. Emily Wilkinson, Senior Research Fellow, Global Risks and Resilience at ODI, a global think tank, and Chief Scientific Adviser at the Climate Resilience Execution Agency for Dominica (CREAD), called attention to core strands of the module’s teaching methodology, including the successful hosting of two expert roundtables.

The first roundtable, titled ‘Building Back Better after Disasters: A Regionally Driven Agenda?’, featured disaster risk management professionals from a few international organizations. The panelists included Mr. Ronald Jackson, a former Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA). He now heads the Disaster Risk Reduction and Recovery for Building Resilience team at the United Nations Development Programme in Geneva. The CEO of CREAD, Ms. Francine Baron, was also on hand, along with other experts. The second roundtable, titled ‘Responding to COVID-19 in the Caribbean: An Integrated and Coordinated Effort?’, featured staff members from the Pan American Health Organization, the United Nations World Food Programme and the Caribbean Community Secretariat. Those panellists highlighted the role of disaster diplomacy as regards securing and channelling of foreign aid in response to and in the context of recovery from (natural) disasters.

The Director of the Institute of International Relations (IIR), Professor Jessica Byron, stated that the disaster diplomacy training module was extremely timely as risk management and resilience-building assume ever greater significance in the global, regional and national policy spaces. Professor Byron observed that this area requires regular refresher courses and skills upgrades for diplomatic professionals and other public officials. She welcomed Dr. Wilkinson as facilitator and expressed appreciation at the sharing of so much disaster management-related expertise with the participants.

The DAOC will build on the success of its in-demand module ‘Caribbean Small States and Disaster Diplomacy’, conferred as a certificate, by offering a second iteration of it in the 2021/2022 academic year also in a virtual format. This online teaching modality forms an integral part of efforts to further internationalize the DAOC, which aims to make its expansive diplomatic training agenda even more accessible to a wider range of constituencies within and beyond the Caribbean. 




About the Diplomatic Academy of the Caribbean (DAOC)

The DAOC is the Caribbean's premier professional development-oriented diplomatic studies centre. An integral part of The University of the West Indies' (UWI) Institute of International Relations (IIR), it was established in 2014. The DAOC has a primary teaching mandate in the area of diplomatic studies, offering short, highly specialized training modules in the broad field of diplomatic studies. For Caribbean professionals seeking to expand their capabilities to advance an international career, the DAOC is a trusted educational partner. Combining a world-class suite of curricular offerings, which align with topical policy and learning trends, with a programme of advocacy and partnerships regarding the relationship between diplomacy and the Caribbean, the Diplomatic Academy provides a unique setting for stakeholders to deepen diplomatic skills/knowledge and enhance policy expertise.

The DAOC has yielded substantial and complementary benefit to the IIR, which was established in 1966 by agreement between the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and the Government of Switzerland.

Integral to the DAOC's mission is its commitment to help close human resources capacity gaps in international affairs and diplomacy in the Caribbean, by providing capacity-building and skills development training in diplomacy to up and coming diplomats and to aspiring diplomats from the Caribbean Region. This diplomatic learning and training facility also strengthens the University's capacities for research/analysis, knowledge‐sharing, advocacy, and partnerships and dialogue on the relationship between diplomacy and the Caribbean broadly conceived, with the goal of helping to facilitate policy-relevant awareness-raising on international affairs issues of import (and that are topical) to the Region.

The Diplomatic Academy derives its character from its global outlook, real-world impact and Caribbean mindedness which, in sum, constitute The DAOC Advantage™. For more information, please visit:


About The UWI

The UWI has been and continues to be a pivotal force in every aspect of Caribbean development; residing at the centre of all efforts to improve the well-being of people across the region.

From a university college of London in Jamaica with 33 medical students in 1948, The UWI is today an internationally respected, global university with near 50,000 students and five campuses: Mona in Jamaica, St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago, Cave Hill in Barbados, Five Islands in Antigua and Barbuda and its Open Campus, and 10 global centres in partnership with universities in North America, Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe.

The UWI offers over 800 certificate, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Culture, Creative and Performing Arts, Food and Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities and Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology, Social Sciences, and Sport. As the Caribbean’s leading university, it possesses the largest pool of Caribbean intellect and expertise committed to confronting the critical issues of our region and wider world.

Ranked among the top universities in the world, by the most reputable ranking agency, Times Higher Education, The UWI is the only Caribbean-based university to make the prestigious lists. In 2020, it earned ‘Triple 1st’ rankings—topping the Caribbean; and in the top in the tables for Latin America and the Caribbean, and global Golden Age universities (between 50 and 80 years old).  The UWI is also featured among the top universities on THE’s Impact Rankings for its response to the world’s biggest concerns, outlined in the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including Good Health and Wellbeing; Gender Equality and Climate Action.

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(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)