Strategy for Disaster Reduction
Latin America and the Caribbean
Newsletter ISDR Inform - Latin America and the Caribbean
First Meeting of the Inter-Agency Task Force for Disaster Reduction
The Inter-agency Task Force for Disaster Reduction convened for its first meeting in Geneva, at the Palais des Nations, on 27-28 April 2000. It was chaired by Carolyn McAskie, Deputy to the Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, who is also the Emergency Relief Coordinator a.i.
The meeting confirmed the increasing importance of disaster reduction and emphasized that the scope of this field of activity goes beyond the UN system as reflected by the composite membership of the Task Force itself.
The Task Force is composed of UN Agencies such as:
The Force also includes regional entities such as:
Civil society and non-governmental organizations, government agencies and the private sector are also represented, as in the following cases:
The Director of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) is the Secretary of the Task Force.
The meeting took note of the respective roles and mandate of the Task Force and the ISDR Secretariat, as elaborated in UN Secretary Generals report A/54/497. There was general agreement that the basic organizational structure of ISDR included:
Members indicated that the Task Force should be regarded as an interdisciplinary forum for advancing disaster reduction, identifying areas of common concern, and devising guidelines for the implementation of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction. The members of the Task Force, working through the organizations that they represent and their respective operational partners, assume a primary commitment to implement the Strategy. It was recognized that membership in the Task Force was rotational and that other entities should be associated with the work of the Task Force.
The ISDR Secretariat has mandated functions with relation to the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, the Task Force and the network of National Committees. It also has specific responsibilities, mandated by the General Assembly, with regard to the issue of El Niño and early warning. In addition, the Task Force identified the following areas as appropriate for the ISDR Secretariat:
There was general convergence on the fact that the achievements of IDNDR should now be taken to another level, by translating past experience into helping or encouraging countries to build disaster resilient communities. Since disaster reduction is a field in which no institution or organization has a universal mandate, the role of the Task Force is to promote the coordinated implementation of the Strategy in a cross-sectoral and interdisciplinary way.
The meeting identified the following priority areas for the future work of the Task Force:
The Task Force also discussed regional approaches and mechanisms. There was wide recognition of the importance of working at the regional level through partners or by utilizing existing regional mechanisms. In this context the ISDR Office for Latin America and the Caribbean was referred to as a successful model for the exchange of information and experiences in the region.
The Task Force also agreed to establish three Sub-groups: on El Niño and La Niña (leader: WMO); on early warning and vulnerability indicators (leader to be defined); and on the quantification of the impact of future disasters as justification for up-front economic investment in prevention (particularly in relation to sustainable development), as well as insurability and measuring the economic and environmental cost of disasters (leader: UNDP).
The Secretariat was requested to carry out a preliminary assessment of whether subgroups would be needed in the following areas: how to mainstream disaster reduction within sustainable development; science and technology, including information technology and telecommunications; and capacity building in developing countries.
The Task Force asked the Secretariat to work towards the establishment and strengthening of the network of national committees for ISDR which is forming up based on the success of the former IDNDR network.
The Task Force will hold its next formal meetings on 11-12 October 2000, in conjunction with the International Disaster Reduction Day and then in March 2001.