Strategy for Disaster Reduction
Latin America and the Caribbean
Newsletter ISDR Inform - Latin America and the Caribbean
Partners in Action
Hemispheric Conference on Reducing the Vulnerability of Trade Corridors to Socio-Natural Disasters
Mendoza, Argentina, was the setting on 26-28 March 2001 of the Hemispheric Conference on Reducing the Vulnerability of Trade Corridors to Socio-Natural Disasters, organized and sponsored by the Unit for Sustainable Development and Environment (USDE) of the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Environmental Department of the government of Mendoza Province. The meeting had the support of the OAS Program for Research and Training on Trade Corridor Development (PROCORREDOR) and was co-sponsored by the Andean Development Agency (CAF).
The Conference gathered more than 150 specialists from the public and private sectors in areas such as agriculture, energy, transport, finance, development, risk management and disaster reduction. They looked at the issues on the agenda from the point of view of the four major trade blocs in the region: the North-American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Mercosur, the Andean Community, and the Central American Common Market. The purpose of the technical meeting was to develop an agenda for actions that can be taken at future official forums, whether sectoral, regional o hemispheric in scope.
The specialists discussed the vulnerability to disasters of the infrastructure and productive capacity of three key sectorsagriculture, energy, and transportin the context of trade corridors, and were able to produce agendas for training, research, technology transfer and technical assistance for pre-investment assessments to reduce the threat of socio-natural disasters.
A key participant at the Conference was PROCORREDOR, established by OAS/USDE to support the study and understanding of the processes related to trade corridors, which are viewed as new planning units for regional development. Since 1994, OAS/USDE has designed and carried out several projects involving the structure and operations of trade corridors, particularly their vulnerability to socio-natural hazards. PROCORREDOR was established in 1999; it initially involved academic institutions in Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador and the United States. Its purpose was to build capacity to advise decision-makers in the public and private sectors and to prepare a new generation of specialists on the development and environmental management of trade corridors. Just before the meeting, universities from Honduras, Peru and Uruguay and representatives of the Brazilian private sector joined PROCORREDOR. In Argentina, PROCORREDOR is hosted by the Mercosur Center for Territorial Strategies of Cuyo National University, which chairs the Programs Executive Committee. In addition, Argentina has a National PROCORREDOR Network that brings together several universities around the country. The Advisory Council includes representatives from such key agencies as the Pan-American Highway Institute, which has long experience in dealing with the safety of road infrastructure at the hemispheric level.
As a result of the Conference, socio-natural risk management specialists have a better understanding of existing development plans and can detect their vulnerabilities, particularly in the three key sectors mentioned. Meanwhile, specialists in other areas learned about the views of scientists and engineers on disaster reduction and the need for greater awareness and preventive measures. Technical assistance agencies and multilateral financial institutions such as the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Andean Development Agency have a broader understanding of the need to incorporate risk management into the planning and financing of development plans for trade corridors and other essential infrastructure.
In short, the meeting built the foundations for the development of a new trade corridor development strategy that can make regional integration less vulnerable to socio-natural hazards and hence more sustainable.
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