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

Partners in Action


Hemispheric Conference on Risk Reduction
San José, Costa Rica
December 2001

The Hemispheric Conference on Risk Reduction took place on 4-6 December 2001 in San José, Costa Rica. Some 550 participants from throughout the Americas met in plenary sessions and work groups to discuss the implementation of the mandates of risk management from the Quebec Summit of the Americas (April 2001).

The Organizing Committee of the Conference included representatives from the United States Department of State, the US Agency for International Development and its Office for Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA), the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO). Also represented were the ISDR Secretariat, the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), the Coordination Centre for Natural Disaster Prevention in Central America (CEPREDENAC), the Caribbean Disaster and Emergency Response Agency (CDERA) and disaster agencies from Argentina, Canada, and Costa Rica.

The inaugural session was presided by USAID Administrator Andrew Natsios, US Ambassador to Costa Rica John J. Danilovich, a representative of the Costa Rican Government PAHO/WHO Deputy Director Mirta Roses Periago, Paul Spencer of the OAS, and the Director of the ISDR Secretariat, Sálvano Briceño.

The plenary sessions focused on the links between the Hemispheric Conference and the Quebec Summit, democracy and disasters, national risk reduction plans, information management, awareness raising and the role of international stakeholders in this field.

An innovative feature of the Conference was the division of the participants into working groups by sector (food security and agriculture, education, health, critical facilities) and the introduction of cross-cutting issues such as finance, civil society, information technology and land-use management for discussion.

This approach helped to underscore the interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral nature of risk reduction. The diversity of the contributions and the great interest and expectations generated by this innovation revealed that a change of perspective is unquestionably taking place in the region, with greater attention being paid to the long term. Risk management, and particularly risk reduction, thus acquire a strategic dimension that transcends individual disciplines and is no longer the monopoly of disaster management agencies, but rather an attitude and, indeed, a value or principle that can guide society as a whole.

The final recommendations were drafted and finalized employing this dual sectoral and cross-sectoral approach. A document, which should be available at the OFDA/LAC Web site by the second half of July, presents these recommendations and provides an overview of the discussions during the conference, prepared by experts in various fields in order to ensure that it can serve as an authoritative source on the current state and emerging trends of risk reduction in the hemisphere.

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