Testimonials
Action on Disaster Relief; Post-Event Report
26-28 January 2016, Panama City
In its inaugural year, Action on Disaster Relief 2016 was heralded as a major success. For the very first time, senior government, UN and disaster agency, NGO, chamber and trade officials from across the Latin America and Caribbean region, convened at the Wyndham Panama Albrook Mall Hotel (26-28 January) to meet face-to-face with some of the world’s leading business operators from across the disaster relief and humanitarian sectors. The focus was on direct, personable engagement; a mix of themed plenary sessions (mornings) and afternoon matchmaking meetings. Featuring more than 20 speakers and facilitating upwards of 400 public-private sector meetings, it’s easy to see why this significant forum will continue to create meaningful collaborations across the region.
 
Andria Grosvenor, Alliance and Cooperation Services Manager of CDEMA
Supported by the Republic of Panama’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and chaired by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), ActionOnDR2016 commenced with an Evening Reception at the Wyndham Panama Albrook Mall Hotel. Participants were able to register, collect their delegate passes/packs and, enjoy a relaxed evening of networking whilst enjoying canapés and refreshments.
 
LL.M. Dennis Allen Frías, Advisor to the Minister of Government on Human Security Issues; Republic of Panama
The event’s first morning of plenary sessions were opened by Andy Dowell, CEO of GRV Global and Andria Grosvenor, Alliance and Cooperation Services Manager of CDEMA – the event’s Official Conference Chair. Ms. Grosvenor introduced the topics to be discussed over the coming two days whilst affirming her wish to keep the programme to time (the infamous speaker’s wall of fame/shame!). ActionOnDR2016 was brought underway by LL.M. Dennis Allen Frías, Advisor to the Minister of Government on Human Security Issues, representing the Government of the Republic of Panama. Mr. Allen, addressing an audience representing more than 25 countries worldwide, kindly welcomed everyone to Panama through his Keynote Address, whilst emphasising the importance of the currently under construction Regional Logistics Centre for Humanitarian Assistance in Panama.
 
Dr. César Antonio Nuñez, Regional Director for Latin America & the Caribbean of UNAIDS
Wednesday 27th January featured three themed panels namely; Panel One: Governance, Investment, and Public-Private Partnerships chaired by NRS International discussing finance, partnerships and sustainable development with The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and STAR-TIDES; Panel Two Preparedness, Emergency Response & Recovery (Day One) chaired by KPMG discussing lessons learned, technological advancements, and scalable solutions with the American Red Cross, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO); and Panel Three: Health - Disease Prevention, Medication, and Shelter chaired by TMH Medical Services, LLC discussing access, distribution, and sanitation with the IOM Regional Office for Central and North America and the Caribbean, the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS).
 
Following a networking lunch break, the first day of Action on Disaster Relief 2016 moved to the afternoon public-private sector matchmaking meetings. In the weeks leading up to the event, delegates were able to identify their preferred matchmaking meetings through GRV Global’s secure scheduling website. Pre-event, meeting schedules are finalised and confirmed to all participants in order to maximise the potential outcomes. Wednesday afternoon featured more than 200 one-to-one meetings with many agencies taking back-to-back meetings throughout. It was the region’s first time to witness GRV Global’s personable format of 20 minute matchmaking meetings; participants were quick to identify their potential value and praised their efficiency. All whilst select sponsors were able to showcase their products and services at dedicated tabletop displays around the hotel’s Gran Salón Contadora ballroom.
 
Whilst in Panama City, many for the very first time, GRV Global wanted to ensure participants experienced the Panamanian culture. Hence, all participants were invited to enjoy a Cultural Dinner at the Atlantic & Pacific Co. Restaurant, Miraflores Locks on the Panama Canal. In a relaxed, casual setting, event participants enjoyed an evening of Panama cuisine, refreshments and a prime view of the Miraflores Locks on the Panama Canal. It proved an ideal opportunity for all to reflect on the day’s talking points whilst continuing the discussions they had already started during the afternoon meeting sessions
 
Eng. Noel Alberto Barillas, Advisor to the Office of the Executive Secretary of CEPREDENAC
The final day of Action onDisaster Relief 2016, Thursday 28th January, commenced with Welcoming Remarks from the event’s Conference Chair - Andria Grosvenor, Alliance and Cooperation Services Manager of CDEMA. Ms. Grosvenor took a moment to emphasise some of the event’s highlights thus far whilst, presenting some finer details regarding the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and namely, their goals for 2016 and beyond. The ActionOnDR2016 audience were then treated to a Keynote Address from Eng. Noel Alberto Barillas, Advisor to the Office of the Executive Secretary of the Coordination Center for the Prevention of Natural Disasters in Central America (CEPREDENAC). Eng. Barillas, joined at the event by his colleague Marianela Guzmán, representing the Coordination Center for the Prevention of Natural Disasters in Central America, gave a thorough CEPREDENAC’s stance on “Comprehensive Disaster Risk Management in Central America: Current Situation and Projections”.
  
José Agustín Donderis Miranda, Director General of SINAPROC Panama
Once again, the morning speaker sessions featured three themed panels namely; Panel Four: Logistics & Security chaired by Volga Dnepr Unique Air Cargo discussing movement, people, food, infrastructure, and communications with Director General José Agustín Donderis Miranda of the Sistema Nacional de Proteccion Civil (SINAPROC) Republic of Panama, the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and, the Latin American Center for Relations with Europe (CELARE); Panel Five: Preparedness, Emergency Response & Recovery (Day Two) chaired by Skylife Technology discussing lessons learned, technological advancements, and scalable solutions with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and, the Ministry of Public Health and Population Republic of Haiti; and Panel Six: Humanitarian Emergencies chaired by Advizing IT discussing migration, populations and protecting women & children with World Vision LACRO and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Panama.
  
The event’s morning plenary sessions were concluded with a Closing Ceremony. Our greatly valued Conference Chair, Andria Grosvenor, Alliance and Cooperation Services Manager of CDEMA, thanked all participants for their time and for helping to make the first Action on Disaster Relief event a huge success. Ms. Grosvenor recapped some of the more important discussion points raised across to three days whilst encouraging the audience to take these forward and ultimately review them at next year’s event. Ms. Grosvenor also took a moment to hold Danoffice IT’s Samsung tablet draw, won by Day One Response, and offered her sincere thanks to all the speakers for their timely presentations thus making her role a little easier.
  
H.E. María Luisa Navarro, Vice Minister of Multilateral Affairs and Cooperation; Republic of Panama
The audience were then treated to Closing Remarks from H.E. María Luisa Navarro, Vice Minister of Multilateral Affairs and Cooperation of the Government of Panama. Mrs. Navarro, on behalf of Her Excellency Isabel de Saint Malo de Alvarado, Vice President of the Republic and Minister of Foreign Affairs, stated that ActionOnDR2016 set the foundations to create a long-lasting partnership among us (public and private sector leaders), to coordinate actions to generate the preparedness required to reduce the impact of disasters and face them in the most effective way. The event contributes positively to the strengthening of the project placed in operation by the Panamanian government, which will offer the region a well organised hub to channel the necessary assistance in a timely way, maximizing infrastructure, communications, services and the geographical position of Panama. Mrs Navarro also highlighted that this event has offered interesting perspectives with regards to the currently being constructed Regional Logistic Center for Humanitarian Assistance. She trusts that we (public and private sector leaders) will continue to work together, in order to create a hub that incorporates the emergency operations of multiple actors; a facilitator of support and assistance at the region’s disposal. Mrs. Navarro finished by thanking GRV Global for all their efforts in bringing Action on Disaster Relief 2016 to Panama, to produce this event with beneficial results for Panama and the populations in the region.
  
Finally, Andy Dowell, CEO of GRV Global closed the morning’s plenary session with thanks to the speakers for their time and commitment to the afternoon meeting sessions, to the event’s Sponsors and Airline Partner - COPA Airlines, to all of the local suppliers such as printers, translators, ushers, stage/set and audio/visual experts, to his own team for all of their efforts, to H.E. María Luisa Navarro, Vice Minister of Multilateral Affairs and Cooperation and to the entire Ministry of Foreign Affairs team for all their support and guidance, and finally but by no mean least, to the event’s Conference Chair, Andria Grosvenor, Alliance and Cooperation Services Manager of CDEMA; for her wonderfully witty, enthusiastic and charming chairmanship.
  
Although the Closing Ceremony had been held, there was still an afternoon of public-private sector matchmaking meetings to follow the networking lunch break. Once again, GRV Global’s structured one-to-one meetings format was held in high regard. Almost a further 200 meetings were held across the afternoon. Sadly, it was almost time for participants to say their goodbyes and prepare to leave Panama however, there was a renewed hope that the region could achieve better preparedness, disaster risk reduction and relief. Not only had delegates been able to hear directly from the region’s leading disaster agencies and governments, but they had been able to meet them personally, discuss potential solutions and create long-lasting contacts for the future....... Until Action on Disaster Relief 2017!