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


Organization of American States (OAS)
The Inter-American Disaster Mitigation Network

In order to contribute to strengthening activities related to governance in natural disaster risk reduction and sustainable development in the region, as well as to take advantage of technological advances in information and communications, the Department of Sustainable Development (DSD) of the Organization of American States is working with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) to create the Inter-American Disaster Mitigation Network (IADMN). The IADMN will be one of the main regional instruments for exchanging experience and information on the integrated management of natural disaster risk, including assessing vulnerability, developing mitigation measures, and promoting natural disaster preparedness and response programs.

Regarding the creation of the IADMN, it is worth mentioning that at the 1996 Summit of the Americas on Sustainable Development in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, the governments of the hemisphere committed to the exchange of technical information and knowledge on natural disaster planning and mitigation1. In 1997, the Inter-American Program for Sustainable Development asked organizations such as the OAS, UNEP, the World Bank, the IDB, and UNDP to work together to serve as a regional forum and support mechanisms for inter-institutional dialogue and cooperation. In the framework of this program, it was agreed that the OAS would serve as the regional forum for promoting dialogue on how to reduce vulnerability to natural disasters 2, and during a meeting of the Inter-American Program for Sustainable Development the OAS was given this responsibility 3. Subsequently, the OAS committed to explore scientific and technological applications for mitigating natural disasters, and for promoting cooperation and the exchange of information 4.

In 2002, the OAS General Assembly asked the Inter-American Committee for Natural Disaster Reduction (IACNDR) to prepare a Strategic Plan for Disaster Response and Vulnerability Reduction. The plan aims at channeling the support of the Member States through the IACNDR and its participating organizations, and at establishing an interface with both regional government bodies and the UN system. The IACNDR’s Strategic Plan includes more than 30 commitments made by the Member States collectively, as regional groups, or individually in various regional meetings. These commitments are considered mandates to be closely followed, and are in line with the goals of the Inter-American Disaster Mitigation Network (IADMN). For example, during the Third Summit of the Americas, the Heads of State agreed to:

  • Promote the development of telecommunications and study the creation of a hemispheric system for disaster preparedness and mitigation, including a data bank.
  • Establish cooperation links with public and private agencies, technical associations, regional institutions, civil society, and educational and research institutions in order to analyze existing risks.
  • Establish mechanisms for cooperation and information sharing5. During the Third Summit of the Americas, the Member States also committed to promote the exchange of knowledge and experiences among various sectors, including educational institutions6. Based on these commitments, the OAS entrusted the Secretary General and the IACNDR with the creation of an information network for the exchange of scientific and technical knowledge and experiences, aimed at strengthening those bodies working on natural disaster prevention and response7. In 2002, the Inter-American Council for Integral Development asked the IACNDR to hold ministerial forums and technical meetings in order to prepare and discuss periodic reports and achievements in the field of vulnerability reduction 8.

The Member States also agreed with the proposal of the Inter-American Convention to Facilitate Disaster Assistance (IACFDA), mandating that all countries must have a national coordinating authority responsible for requesting, coordinating and distributing aid within the country 9.

As for the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UN/ISDR), it has stated that for its Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction to be effective, this instrument must be established through a participatory process that includes multi-sector perspectives and actions and that represents all stakeholders involved. The Inter-American Disaster Mitigation Network, therefore, adopts these and other ISDR’s principles as a hemispheric contribution to this global initiative. It promotes the exchange of information on vulnerability reduction, risk management, and disaster response. It also makes recommendations on initiatives related to disaster risk management and financing methods, placing special emphasis on policies, programs and international cooperation, aimed at reducing vulnerability to natural disasters in all countries.

The purpose of the IADMN is to serve as the main forum within the Inter-American System for the exchange of information on topics related to natural disaster risk management, prevention and mitigation, in coordination with national organizations of OAS Member States, relevant regional and international organizations, non- governmental organizations, and specialized agencies.

As a hemispheric platform, the IADMN also supports the organizations and agencies mentioned above in addressing interrelated social, economic, and ecological problems, thereby contributing to building capacity, establishing legislative procedures and frameworks, and allocating limited resources in a rational manner. The hemisphere also benefits in a substantial way from the development of an effective IADMN, directly as a result of disaster risk reduction, and indirectly through the process itself. Building on the ISDR platform, the IADMN can be defined as a hemispheric mechanism that undertakes the goal of reducing disaster risk through a coordinated, participatory, and interactive process of thinking and action.

The IADMN invites and welcomes the participation of international organizations, international cooperation agencies, bodies of the Inter-American system, sub-regional organizations and national institutions responsible for emergency response and risk management (such as Civil Defense and National Committees for Disaster Prevention, Mitigation, and Response, as focal points).

It is worth mentioning that IADMN was created in the context of other existing mechanisms and processes, and the strengthening, realignment or redirection of current structures allowed for capacity building in a more efficient and effective manner. In sum, the IADMN is a network of networks made up of relevant agencies and organizations interested in promoting the sustainable implementation programs for reducing and mitigating natural disasters in the Americas.

News on the advancement of the IADMN will be posted periodically on the following site:

1 Summit of the Americas on Sustainable Development. Plan of Action for Sustainable Development in the Americas. Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, December 1996.
2 PIDS. GA/RES 1513 (XXVII-0/97) OAS. CIDI/RES 11(II-0/97).
3 PIDS Goals/CIDI Res. 11. Inter-American Program for Sustainable Development.
4 OAS, Economic Integration and Free Trade, Second Summit of the Americas, Plan of Action, Santiago de Chile, 1998.
5 Third Summit of the Americas. Declaration of Québec City, April 2001.
6 OAS/Plan of Action, Third Summit of the Americas, Québec, Canada, April 2001. Action Plan for Disaster Management.
7 OAS-GA/RES 1803 (XXXI-0/01). Organization of American States, General Assembly. OAS’ Mechanisms for Natural Disaster Reduction.
8 CIDI/CIDS. Res. 4 (II-0/02). Inter-American Council for Integral Development. Reducing Vulnerability to Natural Disasters in the Americas.
9 Inter-American Convention to Facilitate Disaster Assistance (III-1991).