Regional Platform for DRR in the Americas Emphasizes Role of Local Authorities, Youth

unisdr-america29 May 2014: The Fourth Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in the Americas considered the major elements needed for a global framework on DRR. Participants called for a stronger role for local authorities in DRR, inclusion of youth in DRR governance, better integration of DRR into national development and greater awareness about disaster risk.

The Regional Platform in the Americas was one of a series of consultations leading up to the Third UN World Conference on DRR in March 2015, where a global framework on disaster risk is expected to be adopted to replace the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA).

At a high-level panel featuring lessons learned from disasters by local authorities, Margareta Wahlström, Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for DRR, stressed that all levels of society must be involved in DRR. While disaster prevention awareness is improving, Wahlström explained there is room for improvement on coordination and division of responsibilities .

The conference underscored unique features and challenges of Latin America in integrating DRR into national development planning, including a large urban population, population growth and economic constraints. Wahlström also pointed to "pressure to take shortcuts on infrastructure, land use and building in safe locations" as a challenge in the region.

Youth at the conference advocated for the inclusion of young people and the disabled in decision making on DRR. In addition, the Voces movement, which represents 2,000 youth from 15 countries, and the Coalition for Resilience in Children and Young People in Latin America and the Caribbean (CORELAC) assembled a 100-meter cord of ribbons and drawings inscribed with messages. The cord, or 'Quipu,' is borrowed from a traditional method of the Incas for preserving knowledge. A small part was presented to Wahlström, but the full cord, containing the wishes and dreams of 18,700 children, will go to the World Conference.

Thematic sessions included: gender-sensitivity; climate change, development and DRR; governance and public policy; land planning; children, youth and DRR; South-South and triangular cooperation; the private sector; and scientific research.

Participants at the Fourth Session of the Americas Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) recommended developing "indicators of resilience" in a Communiqué. The Communiqué highlights the post-2015 development agenda and processes, such as the process to develop a post-2015 Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) and to define a climate agreement through the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), as an opportunity to ensure coherence among initiatives on climate change, development, humanitarian action, risk management and sustainable urban development by developing common indicators and objectives.

The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) Regional Office for the Americas and the Secretariat of Risk Management and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ecuador organized the conference, which took place in Guayaquil, Ecuador, from 27-29 May 2014. It brought together DRR professionals, policymakers, community representatives, youth and other stakeholders from the Caribbean and North, Central and South America. [Fourth Regional Platform for DRR in the Americas Website] [UNISDR Press Release, 29 May 2014] [UNISDR Press Release, 28 May 2014] [UNISDR Press Release, 26 May 2014]