Americas urges political support for disaster risk reduction

From left: Director of Chile's National Emergency Office of Ministry of the Interior and Public Security Benjamin Chacana and Head of UNISDR's Regional Office in the Americas Ricardo Mena at the closing of the 3rd Session of the Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Santiago, Chile.
 
By Humberto Jaime

SANTIAGO, 29 November 2012 - Following a long final session last night, participants at the Third Session of the Regional Platform for the Americas issued the Santiago Communiqué which concretely spells out actions by countries in the Americas region to speed up implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015 -- a global disaster reduction plan that was adopted by UN Member States seven years ago.

Key amongst those actions is call to further encourage the political support and commitment for disaster risk reduction that was expressed in the recent Rio+20 Declaration "The future we want".

The communiqué also underscores the need to urgently advance with the integration of risk reduction into sustainable development policies that allow for the reduction of existing risks, control the generation of new risks and develop the capacities to increase disaster resilience.

The Santiago Communiqué "recognizes the need to achieve a higher level of political commitment towards the establishment of clear targets for Disaster Risk Reduction that can be quantified and verified, as well as the mechanisms that enable monitoring and follow-up."

The final document followed three days discussions which began on 26 November and was led by the National Emergency Office of the Ministry of Interior of Chile, ONEMI, and the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, UNISDR.

The increasing socio-economic impacts of disasters and climate change spurred more than 400 representatives from government, international organizations, intergovernmental organizations, donor agencies and civil society organizations from the countries and territories of Latin America and the Caribbean to review the region's implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) which was designed to protect lives, jobs and property from natural hazards.

Participants also called for cross sectoral collaboration and community participation in decision making, singling these out as crucial elements if sustainable development in the Americas is to be achieved.

Ricardo Mena, Head of UNISDR Regional Office for the Americas, praised Chile's advances in including disaster risk reduction among its national priorities and the strengthening of capacities promoted from ONEMI to reinforce the culture of self-protection and citizen awareness.

"We thank ONEMI and Chile for their hospitality and support in the Organization of this Platform, and especially for its commitment towards disaster risk reduction; to all participants of all levels present at this meeting and to Jorge, Panamanian 5th grader of primary school and the youngest participant present" added Mr. Mena.

During the Third Session, the Chilean National Platform for disaster risk reduction was also constituted as a cross-cutting mechanism that requires political and legal commitment, public understanding, and integration, reinforcement and implementation of the priorities established by the Hyogo Framework for Action.

Benjamin Chacana, Director of ONEMI, said, "The preventive approach that the Government of Chile has shown that seeks to install a self-help culture before emergencies, has been a key factor in the decision to establish this national platform for disaster risk reduction. In this way can continue working to educate, protect and serve our communities before adverse events, with a clear support for local level approaches".
The Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction will take place in 2015 The Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction will take place in 2015.
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