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

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Prevention Pays

The World Conference on Natural Disaster Reduction- Yokohama 1994

In 1994 a midterm review was undertaken through a the Yokohama World Conference "For a Safer World in the 21st Century" It brought together more than 2000 participants from 149 Member States, from the United Nations system, and all other relevant partners within IDNDR’s International Framework for Action. Many Delegations were represented at ministerial level.

The World Conference on Natural Disaster Reduction was a milestone event and turning point in the IDNDR process. It opened the path to new strategies in the second half of the 1990s:

  • Emphasis on the social sciences: the international scientific community spearheaded the initiative in the late 1980s. Vision broadened to include social sciences in addition to natural sciences in the fields of research, policy development and practical application. Economics, media, information networks and vulnerability reduction emerged as priorities as disaster reduction issues;

  • A focus on public policy: many countries initiated a process to adopt new laws and national strategies for disaster reduction;

  • The development of regional approaches: as countries conducted a national review process for Yokohama, and shared the review process with neighbouring countries, regional approaches and groupings emerged as a new and significant outcome. Regional networking for information exchange and technical cooperation has been a priority concern among many IDNDR partner organizations during the second half of IDNDR;

  • A shift from emergency preparedness to the reduction of vulnerability and risk: during the early 1990s emphasis in disaster reduction was still placed to a large extent on emergency preparedness. From different policy and operational perspectives, Yokohama heavily underlined the links between disaster reduction and sustainable development. As a result of the Yokohama mid-term review, natural disaster reduction is now part of UN system’s strategy towards achieving sustainable development, natural resource protection and sound environmental management. At the same time, disaster reduction remains an indispensable component of humanitarian assistance;

  • Emphasis on concrete application of natural disaster reduction. Both the process towards Yokohama and during the Decade generated awareness and commitment to intensifying the application of natural disaster reduction within national development planning. Particular emphasis on the interface between science and technology and operational concerns, as well as on local community involvement.


Promoting a Disaster Prevention Culture

The production of this Newsletter, IDNDR Informs for Latin America and the Caribbean, and the global Magazine STOP Disasters, is part of the IDNDR strategy to promote wide dissemination and exchange of information to increase the awareness for disaster reduction. The regional IDNDR Informs comes out twice a year and has served as a channel to get IDNDR information out and to share contacts and thoughts.

The World Campaigns for Disaster Reduction launched every year by IDNDR have been another valuable tool to push for awareness. The campaigns culminates in the World for Disaster Reduction Day, 13 of October this year, which has been used in most countries in the region to make use of public activities for a disaster prevention culture. This year´s theme is "Prevention Pays", and part of the closing up process of the Decade.

When it comes to electronic communication and cyberspace, the Virtual IDNDR Conferences carried out during three years with support of the Peruvian Quipunet has showed another powerful way of disseminating ideas, fuel debate and discussion on important issues towards disaster reductions. Papers and ideas expressed during these conferences have been seen in different areas and events, which show the multiplying effect- and all kinds of people can tune in without having to spend on travelling. This year the conference will start 14th of June and last for two weeks.


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The future of disaster reduction

The International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction comes to its conclusion this year. Based on the model of the Decade’s mid-term review the international community will undertake a final evaluation as to how the concept of disaster reduction has evolved over time and, more importantly, whether this concept has been successfully implemented with concrete results. The General Assembly has decided on a two-tier closing event which will consist of a legislative platform provided by the substantive session of the United Nations ECOSOC this July, and a complementary substantive platform, the IDNDR Programme Forum, to be organized in Geneva from 5 to 9 July 1999 (see separate announcement)


Regional and Thematic meetings are being held before, as important activities to reinforce regional cooperation and knowledge. The IDNDR Hemispheric Meeting – Towards Disaster Reduction into the 21st Century in the Americas is being held in San José, Costa Rica, 31 May – 5 June, 1999, hosted by the Government of Costa Rica.

The current proposal is to maintain a minimal structure within the UN System to follow up on integrated disaster reduction, its coordination promotion and policy advocacy. Every UN organization, as well as every other relevant national or international organization, will be mandated to maintain and, if possible, strengthen its current contributions to risk mitigation, vulnerability reduction and humanitarian assistance.