Resilient outlook: A new protocol from the Latin American Parliament aims to reduce disaster risk on the ground.
By Humberto Jaime
PANAMA, 30 January 2014 –
Latin America has taken a step towards mainstreaming disaster risk reduction into national development policy instruments and poverty reduction strategies.
The Latin American Parliament has adopted a protocol on disaster risk management that obliges its 23 member states to incorporate guiding principles of building resilience into existing or emerging legislation.
The adoption of the protocol comes ahead of the 2014 Americas Regional Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction, to be held in Ecuador, in May.
The Regional Platform will be a crucial opportunity for the Americas to agree priorities, such as how to address the escalation of economic losses because of increased exposure of assets to hazards, ahead of the post-2015 successor to the Hyogo Framework for Action.
The President of the Parliament’s sub-commission on prevention and response of risk and disaster, Mr Timoteo Zambrano, welcomed the protocol.
“The central objective is to harmonize legislation aimed at minimizing the risks and effects of disasters in the region,” said Mr Zambrano, who is also a deputy from the Venezuelan parliament.
“While levels of consciousness are growing, parliamentarians are seeking to provide more clarity on this matter. This protocol conveys interest, concern and the need to act jointly in the region to reach agreement on the issue of disasters, which affects so many Latin Americans.”
The protocol prioritises the need to better manage and support people who are internally displaced as a result of disasters. It also calls for the establishment of a Regional Unit for Disaster Risk Management, which will help coordinate and share national best practice as well as provide surge support during major emergencies.
The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) provided support to parliamentarians on technical aspects of the protocol.
Formal regional approaches to strengthen national disaster management legislations are emerging elsewhere in the world. For instance, the East Africa Legislative Assembly is developing a model law as a reference for its member states.
The Latin American Parliament was established in Peru in 1964 as a ‘regional, permanent and unicameral parliament’ for 23 countries in the Caribbean, Central and South America.