Organization of American States (OAS)
Natural hazards and climate change adaptation: programmatic overview
Organizational Approach: The Department of Sustainable Development (DSD)
supports a multidisciplinary approach to identifying and reducing the
economic, development and human costs of natural disasters affecting
OAS Member States. In this regard, the Department continues to provide
policy and technical assistance and capacity-building to countries
of the Hemisphere in preparing for, and adapting to, the impacts of
The Natural Hazards and Climate Change Adaptation Program of the OAS/DSD
is the main service provider for OAS Member States to identify and reduce
the risks associated with natural hazards. Program activities reflect
the requests from countries, aim at complementing efforts of other international
and regional organizations and use other program areas within the OAS/DSD,
such as sustainable energy, integrated water resource management, legal
reforms and enforcement, land tenure, governance and educational outreach.
and Climate Change Adaptation Program Strategy: The
objective of the program is to reduce the risks associated with weather-related
natural hazards, by helping to increase the resilience of OAS member
states, communities and physical assets to natural disaster impacts.
In order to complement the technical assistance priorities noted below,
the Department will identify opportunities to mainstream natural hazard
risk management policies within development planning, and economic and
fiscal planning cycles, through cost-benefit and other economic analysis.
Photo: D. Smith
The program works to achieve its goals of reducing vulnerability to
the effects of natural hazards by implementing the following activities:
of Safer Construction: Private and public sector building
practices are a key factor in preventing damage from disasters, particularly
damage to public buildings such as schools, critical facilities and tourism
sector infrastructure, and private buildings such as housing.
efforts of Member States and communities to adopt building codes
that reduce the risks of natural disasters;
support to governments, including municipal authorities, in the on-going
and enforcement of building codes and standards,
through training and the sharing of practices; and
a cost-benefit analysis of the effects of building codes in relation
to economic consequences
of disaster and recovery periods.
Support for Innovative Financial Mechanisms: The program
provides support to regional initiatives aimed at integrating financial
institutional frameworks and governmental arrangements for risk transfer
through the promotion of combined regional insurance and reinsurance
pooling strategies, and integrating construction quality insurance practices
in governmental physical planning, and in mortgages and banking industries.
The program will provide assistance
to governments in possible regulatory reviews and reforms to support
of Infrastructure Management: Economic and social infrastructure
is impacted, damaged, and destroyed by natural disasters. The program
works with key public officials to help improve natural hazard risk management
policies, urban planning, and hazard mitigation strategies for key public
infrastructure sectors including electrical power, transportation and
Use Management and Planning: To address the vulnerability
of communities to the impacts of natural hazards/climate change,
as well as the loss of ecosystem
functions and services, the program supports the implementation of
sustainable land use management practices at both the community and
institutional levels, and through the DSD Land Titling and Property
Rights initiatives, seeks to incorporate land tenure
data in disaster vulnerability reduction plans and in field assessments for
post-disaster housing reconstruction efforts. The program also promotes the
strengthening of property rights to enable a mortgage loan market and a natural
disasters homeowners’ insurance program, and the institutional mainstreaming
of land use management policies.
of Regional and Hemispheric Natural Hazards Networks: The program will
establish a hemispheric network of national, regional, and international
agencies involved in natural hazard mitigation activities, to enhance
synergies and to improve risk reduction and risk mitigation actions.
Governance-related matters, including gender and public awareness, represent
a cross-cutting issue, taken into consideration in all activities carried
The following are some of the services that the DSD offers to OAS Member
States, in order to implement the natural hazard strategy:
- Public awareness,
including the implementation of social statistical analysis aimed
at fostering behavioral changes.
- Education, which
includes formal and informal education programs intended for local
communities at large.
- Political and
legal reforms: this involves the identification and creation of networks
in order to exchange existing legal frameworks at
the national level. Training, which includes efforts to support training
programs for both staff members and local communities, in collaboration
specializing in natural disaster risk mitigation.
- Capacity building,
including the creation and the strengthening of local and regional
institutions, as well as the development of new ties
and networks among them.
- Applied technology,
which involves the implementation of early warning systems, hazard
modeling techniques, climate monitoring stations, etc.
- Best practices,
including sustainable farming and forestry practices, and coastal
management techniques, such as green hotel certification
For further information on the DSD program, please contact: