(From left) Ms. Virginia Laino, Provincial Director of Risk Management and Emergencies, Dr. Mariano Goicochea y Garayar, Vice-President of the White Helmets Commission, Mr. Rodrigo Silvosa, Undersecretary of Hydraulics, and Mr. Néstor Gil Coner, Provincial Office for Sustainable Development (Photo: Government of Argentina)
BUENOS AIRES, 12 December 2016 – Argentina’s Buenos Aires province has joined UNISDR’s Making Cities Resilient campaign, marking an important step in efforts to protect its population of almost 17 million people from natural and human-induced hazards.
Coming some three months after the municipality of Buenos Aires, Argentina’s federal capital, also signed up to the international campaign, the move will enable disaster risk management to be included squarely in the region’s development policy.
Boosting local government resilience to hazards is a key aim of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, a 15-year blueprint for reining in disaster death tolls, the number of people affected and the economic impact, which was adopted by the international community last year.
The Sendai Framework interlocks with a string of other recent global accords that are setting the tone for development over the next decade and a half, notably the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change.
"We need to know the environmental risks in order to articulate joint strategies that help prevent and avoid damages,” said Ms. Virginia Laino, Buenos Aires’ provincial director of risk and emergency management.
“It is also very important that municipalities are active and become resilient cities," she added.
Launched in 2010, the Making Cities Resilient campaign has grown into a global network of close to 3,500 local governments.
The campaign, which has 1,672 members in the Americas, promotes the integration of a generic framework for risk reduction that identifies good practices among its participants and helps apply them elsewhere.
Urban areas are a major emphasis of the Sendai Framework, the most risk-focussed blueprint to date in a process that over recent decades has seen a shift from viewing disasters purely as a matter of relief operations to a pre-emptive and sustainable development approach.
As population magnets and economic drivers, cities and their hinterlands are particularly vulnerable to increasingly frequent and extreme weather hazards such as storms, climate change impacts including water shortages, environmental degradation and unsafe construction in seismic zones.
Self-assessment according to a series of benchmarks known as the Ten Essentials lies at the heart of the Making Cities Resilient campaign, along with sharing best practice among participating cities. Areas under scrutiny include a city’s budget, how critical infrastructure is handled, policies to ensure all members of the community are included in risk planning, the safety of schools and health facilities, risk-compliant building regulations and land use, protection of ecosystems, and early warning systems.
Floods and drought account for the lion’s share of disaster damage in Argentina.
In Buenos Aires, there have been more than 100,000 disaster events over the past thirty years, according to United Nations research. They affected around six million people, equivalent to that of a country the size of El Salvador.
The Making Cities Resilient campaign has won support at the highest levels of Argentina’s government.
“The creation of resilient cities is very important, that is why Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra has asked me to convey her support," said Dr. Mario Goicoechea, vice-president of the White Helmets Commission, a humanitarian body of the Foreign Ministry.
The signing of the accession to the Making Cities Resilient campaign came at a meeting on risk management and emergencies which was discussing disaster risk reduction policies. More than 250 officials, politicians, White Helmets authorities and United Nations representatives took part in the event, held at the seat of the Buenos Aires provincial government.