International Strategy for Disaster Reduction
Latin America and the Caribbean   

Newsletter ISDR Inform - Latin America and the Caribbean
Issue: 13/2006- 12/2006 - 11/2005 - 10/2005 - 9/2004 - 8/2003 - 7/2003 - 6/2002 - 5/2002 - 4/2001- 3/2001

ISDR Global


Highlights from the WCDR-2005

The World Conference on Disaster Reduction concluded on Saturday 22nd January, with countries pledging to reduce the risks facing millions of people who are exposed to disasters triggered by natural hazards. The following pages will give a snapshot of the activities celebrated during the 5-day conference, organized around 3 different segments, including the intergovernmental segment, the thematic segment as well as the public Forum. Partnership initiatives were launched on different topics related to disaster reduction.

Intergovernmental Segment
Over 120 countries and 13 intergovernmental and regional organizations made general statements from 18-21 January, many of them expressing gratitude to the Government of Japan and ISDR Secretariat for hosting and organizing the WCDR, and conveyed sympathy to the countries affected by the Indian Ocean disaster. Copies of the statements are available on the WCDR website:

The Main Committee (drafting committee) took up the draft framework for action in numerous formal and informal meetings from 18-21 January, working late several nights in an effort to complete negotiations before the closing plenary on Saturday 22 January. Some of the main issues that were discussed included definitions and scope of the framework, reference to climate change, a proposal by Japan to mention a target o halve lives lost from water related disasters by 2015, post conflict rehabilitations, and human security, resource mobilizations, shared river basins, an EU proposal on developing targets and indicators, and an Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) proposal on the outcome of the review of the Barbados Programme of Action (BPoA) The final Hyogo Framework for Action can be consulted at the WCDR website:

Thematic segment
Throughout the week, delegates attended five panels and 46 sessions on the cluster themes identified in the review of Yokohama Strategy, including: governance, institutional and policy frameworks for risk reduction; risk identification, assessment, monitoring and early warning; knowledge, innovation and education to build a culture of safety and resilience: reducing the underlying risk factors; and preparedness for effective response.

The Thematic segment also included regional sessions, a special session on tsunami disaster in the Indian Ocean and special forums on links between disaster risk reduction and other intergovernmental processes and private sector activities. As part of the thematic segment, three High-level Roundtables took place on the following subjects: (1) Disaster risk- the next development challenge,(2) Learning to live with risk, and (3) Emerging risks: What will tomorrow hold?

Public Forum
The public forum consisted of a number of workshops, exhibition booths, poster sessions and a service center. More than 40,000 people visited the forum, which had been prepared and organized by the Governments of Japan and Hyogo as well as the WCDR secretariat. The main objective of the forum was to share experiences and lessons learned from the past disasters. Throughout the workshops and other activities of the public forum, education and public awareness were stressed as being vital ingredients in building the culture of prevention. Mr. Walter Erdelen, UNESCO Assistant Director General for Natural Sciences, as one of the speakers of the public forum said that education on disaster reduction should be one of the pillars of the decade from 2005 to 2015, designated as the United Nations decade of education for sustainable development.

Partnership initiatives
Several partnerships were launched in Kobe, such as an International Early Warning program to improve the resilience to all types of natural hazards including droughts, wildland fires, floods, typhoons, hurricanes, landslides, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis. This UN initiative will include wider information flow and emphasize the importance of people-centered early warning systems and community education about disaster prevention and preparedness.

An international flood initiative was also launched to better prepare communities living in areas affected by this typo of natural hazard. This plan will be coordinated at the training and research center in Tsukuba, Japan., and will look at the flood risk mitigation integrating not only operational aspects but also social implications.

The creation of an open Alliance to support Earthquake Risk Reduction and Earthquake Megacities Initiative was also announced which will bring together municipality officials from “megacities” around the world to develop city disaster management plans.

A partnership of governements, UN agencies and specialized academic institutions also resulted from the discussions at the WCDR. A Coalition on Education, led by UNESCO will take the lead to incorporate disaster reduction into school curricula and to make school buildings safer.

All the official conference papers, presentations and reports can be found at the following

For more information on WCDR, please visit:

Mr. Jan Egeland and Ms. Yvette Stevens, (OCHA) at the opening of the Public Forum, which attracted more than 40,000 visitors during the week.

Photo(below) The main objective of the ECHO good practice exhibit was to share experiences on practical and concrete disaster reduction measures form different regions of the world.

Special sessions on Indian Ocean Disaster

In response to the recent tsunami disaster in the Indian Ocean, special sessions were held at the World Conference on Disaster Reduction where delegates pledged their support to create a regional tsunami early warning system in the Indian Ocean emphasizing the importance of international and regional cooperation. The new warning system will draw from the experience of the Pacific Ocean Tsunami early warning systems making use of the existing coordination mechanisms of the intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The participants emphasized the need for extensive cooperation and coordination, support for the process by the international community and commitments from countries at risk to come up with tsunami mitigation plans.

For more information, please visit the ISDR Early Warning Platform website:

Laura Kong, Director of the International Tsunami Information Center, addresses the special session at the WCDR.