ISDR system


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General Information

The ISDR system supports nations and communities to implement the Hyogo Framework. ISDR is a system of partnerships including governments, inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations, international financial institutions, scientific and technical bodies and specialized networks as well as civil society and the private sector. The ISDR system’s basic structure includes a Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, a Management Oversight Board, an Inter-Agency Group that developed an ISDR System Joint Work-Programme, thematic and regional platforms and the UN/ISDR secretariat.

ISDR system structure:

The ISDR system came about in response to disaster trends and the increased expectations and demands by Governments and other stakeholders to implement the Hyogo Framework for Action, as a global system of partnerships. ISDR system partners face a common set of major challenges to scale up action to implement the Hyogo Framework. Meeting those challenges requires coordinated and complementary action at community, provincial, national and international levels.

UN/ISDR services to UN Resident Coordinators and UN Country Teams: See Brochure


While the United Nations General Assembly remains the highest governing body of the ISDR (or Strategy), the ISDR System as such, is composed of national authorities and platforms, regional, international, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, the United Nations system, international financial institutions, scientific and technical bodies and various specialized networks. The UN/ISDR secretariat is responsible for coordinating and servicing the ISDR system as a whole; while the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs oversees the work of the secretariat, chairs the ISDR system as well as the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (GPDRR) and ensures a higher level profile of the subject within the United Nations with the support of an ISDR Management Oversight Board.

The ISDR Inter-Agency Group is comprised of twlvle members.

Strengthened ISDR System

The main elements of the proposed strengthened ISDR system, as presented in the SG report to the UN General Assembly on August 2005 (A/60/180) are:

- A global forum called the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (GP/DRR) with participation of Governments in addition to UN agencies, regional organizations and civil society, with a particular role to advise on and commit to support the implementation of the Hyogo Framework, and to guide the various associated networks and platforms (this builds on the Inter-Agency Task Force on Disaster Reduction, functioning 2000-2005). It also has a Programme Advisory Committee (PAC), to ensure programmatic support and coherence. An integrated work programme for the ISDR system will be developed by PAC, supported by the ISDR secretariat;

- A Management Oversight Board (MOB) with the function to provide advice on strategic, managerial and resource mobilization related issues to the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs (John Holmes) in his functions as leader of the ISDR international system, with a representative from the UN Development Group as vice-chair (Kathleen Cravero, UNDP, has been appointed for this function already);

- An ISDR secretariat as an independent entity within the United Nations secretariat, with a line of accountability to the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, to serve as “honest broker”, catalyst and main focal point within the UN system on disaster risk reduction issues, to continue to promote ownership and commitment to disaster risk reduction with national, regional and international constituencies, and report on progress;

- National platforms for disaster risk reduction defined by Governments in each country, with designated responsibility as national forums for coordination and follow-up for Hyogo Framework implementation and with appropriate links to the UN Country Teams, where applicable;

- Regional platforms - networks or coordination platforms for disaster reduction cooperation at regional and sub-regional level, including inter-agency task forces and networks of national platforms, for coordination and mainstreaming of disaster risk reduction in regional settings, and for advocacy and information networking;

- Thematic platforms or networks of expertise in support of priority areas identified in the Hyogo Framework led or supported by the Global Platform.

The ISDR secretariat remains as an independent entity within the United Nations Secretariat, with a line of accountability to the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, to serve as “honest broker”, catalyst and main focal point within the UN system on disaster risk reduction issues, to continue to promote ownership and commitment to disaster risk reduction with national, regional and international constituencies and report on progress.

See Proposal of the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs to Strengthen the ISDR System; May 16, 2007

ISDR System Areas of Focus 2008-2009

HFA Priority 1: Ensure that disaster risk reduction is a national and local priority with a strong institution basis for implementation

Global level

Efforts made to complement those at national level by helping to ensure that disaster risk reduction is mainstreamed into programmes of United Nations System organizations and other international partners, working through United Nations Development Group (UNDG) and with United Nations Resident Coordinators and Country Teams. Integration of disaster risk reduction considerations into development assistance frameworks, such as the Common Country Assessments, United Nations Development Assistance Frameworks, and Poverty Reduction Strategies are to be promoted.

A Global Urban Risk Forum to act as a clearing house, network,and repository of knowledge for cities and local communities focusing on urban risk to a range of hazards so that city and local authorities may benefit from sharing tools, lessons and knowledge for urban planning, disaster preparedness and recovery planning.

a Global Assessment Report (GAR) on Disaster Risk Reduction developed and launched (July 2009) to assess global risk trends; review progress and challenges; and analyze thematic issues, particularly in relation to poverty reduction and disaster risk reduction.

HFA Priority 2: Identify, assess and monitor disaster risks and enhance early warning

Global level

Support to the availability of risk information and hazard data as well as disaster loss data with a stronger, more focused multi-partner approach through the Global Risk Identification Programme (GRIP) in order to enable countries to better identify necessary actions, ensure efforts are properly targeted and ensure that post disaster recovery and reconstruction contribute to reducing future risk.

Support provided towards the promotion of a re-focused International Early Warning Programme in order to strengthening national and regional institutional capacities and coordination in the context of growing concentrations of risk in urban areas and increasing risk associated with climate change.

Strengthening of other areas of significance such as drought risk reduction as well as increased coordination and use of space-based imagery and products to reduce risk.

HFA Priority 3: Use knowledge, innovation and eduction to build a culture of safety and resilience at all levels

Global level

Targeted advocacy as well as the accessibility of guidelines on integrating disaster risk reduction into school curricula and the availability of a multi-lingual, digital on-line library of education materials for use by education professionals in vulnerable communities in strengthening the resilience of communities by strengthening the education sector so that people know the risks they face and take individual responsibility to reduce risk.

The planned assessment study on the economics of disaster risk reduction regarded as an important tool for policy and decision makers to help them make sound investment decisions so that national policy makers, particularly those responsible for directing national planning efforts and deciding investment priorities, have solid, scientifically based information on the costs and benefits of disaster risk reduction approaches.

The establishment of global level scientific and technical mechanisms to review, stimulate and guide the development of the scientific and technical foundations of disaster risk reduction and the basis on which effective approaches are to be built.

PreventionWeb fully developed during the biennium as a jointly owned resource of ISDR system partners so that the world-wide disaster risk reduction community, particularly those in countries at risk, can benefit from an internet based system for the exchange of information and knowledge on disaster risk reduction. Such a system is also regarded as a valuable tool to build partnerships.

HFA Priority 4: Reduce the underlying risk factors

Global level

ISDR system partners working together to strengthen the linkage between the climate change and disaster risk reduction agendas at both national and international levels, particularly to support the implementation of the Bali Roadmap process.

Strengthening of global efforts to support national action, with an initial focus on coastal areas, through a re-invigorated and enhanced Environment and Disaster Reduction Platform, with priority given to preparing guidance and training modules on integrated coastal zone management, and sharing of good practices for ecosystem and environmental management and advocacy in order to facilitate further integration of good environmental management in development planning.

Post disaster recovery not only presents significant challenges, but also major opportunities to “build back better”. As such, through coordinated action in the context of the International Recovery Platform, international partners should enhance advocacy for better pro-disaster recovery including development and adoption of post-disaster needs assessments, tools and guidelines, and assessment of disaster impact on livelihoods.

The global campaign “Hospitals Safe from Disasters” as a major multi-partner advocacy effort; with guidelines and tools for safer hospitals developed and tested, and actions undertaken to integrate disaster risk reduction into health facility preparedness plans and through safe building and retro-fitting codes.

HFA Priority 5: Strengthen disaster preparedness for effective response at all levels

Global level

Practical coordination mechanisms enhanced through mainstreaming disaster risk reduction in disaster management and humanitarian action, particularly in the context of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), along with good practices and lessons learnt in disaster preparedness developed and shared to allow for better coordination of policies and protocols that make a significant difference when disaster strikes communities.

Global efforts undertaken through advocacy to increase the number of constituencies promoting gender perspectives in risk reduction, and through publication of good practices and guidelines.

Global efforts to support and sustain the participation of non-government organizations take place through the Global Network of NGOs in disaster risk reduction and a Global Strategic Alliance to scale up the efforts of Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies to reduce disaster risk at community level.

Capacity development is mainly undertaken at national level, but critical support can efficiently be provided from global level to facilitate national processes. Global efforts in this area to include a resource workbook on gender sensitive capacity development planning, an induction course for United Nations Resident Coordinators, training of United Nations staff in countries, and a global directory of disaster risk reduction programmes in higher eduction. The Capacity Development for Disaster Reduction Initiative (CADRI) jointly coordinated and supported by OCHA, UNDP and ISDR secretariat to facilitate and implement the training and capacity development programmes.

ISDR system joint work programme 2008-2009

Source: United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UN/ISDR)

Publication Date: 2008


ISDR System in the Americas

In the region of the Americas, the region's supporting organizations, the organizations that make up the ISDR system for the region, are indicative of this multi-agency composition.

See supporting organizations for more information on ISDR system partners in the Americas.

See also the Americas

ISDR at a glance

ISDR system

The Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters (HFA), endorsed by 168 countries in 2005, serves as the overall framework for implementing disaster risk reduction world-wide. The ISDR system supports nations and communities to implement the Hyogo Framework. ISDR is a system of partnerships including governments, inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations, international financial institutions, scientific and technical bodies and specialized networks as well as civil society and the private sector.

The ISDR system’s basic structure includes a Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, a Management Oversight Board, an Inter-Agency Group that developed an ISDR System Joint Work-Programme, thematic and regional platforms and the UN/ISDR secretariat.

UN/ISDR secretariat

The UN/ISDR secretariat, launched in 2000 (A/RES/54/219) serves as the focal point in the United Nations system for the coordination of disaster reduction and to ensure synergies among the disaster-reduction activities of the United Nations system and regional organizations and activities in socio-economic and humanitarian fields (A/RES/56/195). The secretariat services the ISDR system and administrates the UN Trust Fund for Disaster Reduction. Core functions of the secretariat include: follow-up on the implementation of HFA and report on progress, facilitate policy guidelines for the priority areas, including by linking disaster risk reduction to the climate change negotiations, conduct awareness campaigns and high-level policy dialogues, provide information services and tools, and support national platforms and coordination efforts in these areas, through its regional programmes.

The World Disaster Reduction Campaign 2008-09 is ‘Hospitals Safe from Disaster: Reduce Risk, Protect Health Facilities, Save Lives’.

See more: UN/ISDR; ONU/EIRD - ISDR The Americas; PreventionWeb

Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR)

In the context of the new ISDR system, and in response to Governments’ call for better integration of disaster risk reduction and poverty reduction strategies, the World Bank has established a Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR). The Global Facility represents a major initiative designed to help meet the global demand for increased investment in disaster prevention and mitigation. It aims to boost national, regional and global capacities to reduce disaster risks in low and moderate-income countries. It also seeks to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of national and international relief and reconstruction in postdisaster situations. The GFDRR therefore represents an important new component of the architecture of the ISDR system.

The World Bank, donor partners and key stakeholders of the ISDR system formally launched the GFDRR on September 29, 2006 as a partnership of the ISDR system to support the implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA).

A unique long-term global partnership under the ISDR system established to develop and implement the HFA through a coordinated program for reversing the trend in disaster losses by 2015, the GFDRR complements and reinforces ongoing efforts of ISDR stakeholders in disaster reduction. It facilitates ownership by developing countries and augments the volume and effectiveness of donor partner support in disaster reduction.

The GFDRR’s mission is to mainstream disaster reduction and climate change adaptation in country development strategies, such as poverty reduction strategies (PRSs), country assistance strategies (CASs), United Nations Development Assistance Frameworks (UNDAFs), and National Adaptation Plans of Action (NAPAs), to reduce vulnerabilities to natural hazards. At the national and local levels, it also includes other sectoral development strategies that low- or middle-income countries may undertake to alleviate poverty and address sustainable growth.

The GFDRR’s mission is also to foster and strengthen global and regional cooperation among various stakeholders under the ISDR system, such as low- and middle-income country governments, international financial institutions (IFIs), UN agencies, research and academic institutions, intergovernmental organizations, civil society organizations (CSOs), and the private sector, to leverage country systems and programs in disaster reduction and recovery. It promotes global and regional partnerships in (i) developing new tools, practical approaches and other instruments for disaster reduction and recovery, (ii) fostering an enabling environment at the country level that can generate greater investment in disaster mitigation practices within a sustainable legal, policy, financial and regulatory framework, (iii) facilitating knowledge sharing in reducing disaster risks and sustainable disaster recovery, and (iv) creating adaptive capacities for limiting the impact of climate change.

See flyer Partnership between the World Bank and the secretariat of the ISDR - Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery - Track I

See GFDRR website



UNDP is responsible for operational activities for natural disaster mitigation, prevention and preparedness since 1998 (A/RES/52/12B). Through its Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery (BCPR) serves as the lead for the Cluster Working Group on Early Recovery (CWGER) (Inter-Agency Standing Committee mandate, 2006). The CWGER coordinates programmes to restore services, livelihood opportunities and governance capacity following major disasters. UNDP works directly with more than 50 high-risk countries to formulate and implement disaster reduction and recovery policy and practice through its core development work. UNDP represents the UN Development Group on the Management Oversight Board of the ISDR secretariat and serves as the lead or participates in several ISDR thematic programs and platforms. Areas of thematic engagement at the country level include institutional and legislative systems, community-based disaster risk management, support to national governments to establish risk reduction as a national priority and to establish or strengthen basic institutional structures for disaster preparedness, pre-disaster recovery preparedness, recovery (assessment, sectoral plans), mainstreaming, risk identification, capacity development, urban risks and, increasingly, climate risk management.

UNDP Mandate on Disaster Reduction

As part of its broader mission to capacities for sustainable social and economic development, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) received a clear mandate from the UN General Assembly to “special development situations”: "To act as the focal point for strengthening national capacities related to disaster mitigation, prevention and preparedness. UNDP’s Executive Committee determined that disaster reduction (prevention, preparedness and mitigation) and recovery comprise essential components of UNDP’s development priorities, as such they relate to the recent Millenium Development Goals"

Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery (BCPR)

In 1998, with the purpose of assisting the UNDP Country Offices (COs) fulfill this mandate, the Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery (BCPR) was created . This assistance is oriented to consolidate crisis prevention and recovery knowledge and experiences, to provide a bridge between humanitarian response and development programmes, and to advocate for crisis sensitivity in the context of development policy. Hence, the UNDP has supported the establishment of policy initiatives, development frameworks, governance structures and appropriate tools.

In the Latin American region UNDP/BCPR works in partnership with the Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean (RBLAC). It was established in 2002 jointly with the SURF and it has been followed by the establishment of regional offices for several UN agencies in Panama: OCHA, ISDR, UNICEF, WFP, UNFPA, OMS-OPS, UNHCR, UNOPS, and several non UN international organizations as IFRC, OXFAM, PLAN, CARE; CATHALAC, OIM, etc. On the thematic of Disaster Reduction there is an intense dynamic of coordination and joint actions at regional and national level around the group REDLAC (Risk, Emergency and Disaster Working Group).

Services and Tools for Disaster Reduction:

• Immediate support on disaster and post-disaster situations through policy advice, specialized human resources -from our regional roster of associated experts, surge, global roster and UNV´s-, and resource mobilization;
• Support for the design, development and implementation of risk-reduction and recovery programmes and projects;
• Support resource mobilization efforts;
• Assistance for training on specific topics;
• Identification of opportunities and synergies with other thematic areas;
• Enhance the practice through the DRR knowledge network facilitating the exchange of experiences and best practices;
• Support for the creation of national, regional and international partnerships, especially for sustainable recovery processes;
• Assistance to mainstream disaster reduction into CCA/UNDF, cooperation frameworks, programmes, and projects;
• Support in the preparation and development of recovery and early recovery frameworks and programmes.

Contributing to the Hyogo Framework of Action (HFA) programs and initiatives have been developed in the following areas:

• Governance for Risk Reduction. Strengthen legislative systems and institutional arrangements at national level;
• Mainstreaming Risk Reduction into development. Establish alliances with planning agencies or key sectors as housing;
• Risk Identification. Promoting the elaboration of National reports on risk reduction and national observatories of disasters;
• Bringing together adaptation to climate change and disaster risk reduction through Integrated Climate Risk Management Approach;
• Urban risk and local Level Risk Management and. Strengthening capacities for risk reduction and preparedness at local level, including capitals;
• Preparedness for response and recovery;
• Early Recovery - Coordinate UN system and accompany governments in early recovery processes. Build capacities in governments in pre-disaster recovery planning.


Policy Advice, Human and Financial Resources:

Provide technical advice, methodologies and tools, deploying specialized teams to risk prone countries and assisting with financial resources.

Financial Resources

More than 80 projects have been financed in LAC region in the last six years through:

a) TRAC 1.1.3: UNDP’s own core funds for immediate crisis response are currently being utilized for sudden response grants which support RC coordination efforts for any crisis event and provide seed funding for early recovery/recovery programming and for risk reduction including preparedness;
b) BCPR Thematic Trust Fund (TTF): funding initiatives for prevention, response and recovery, with a special early recovery window;
c) DSS/DAS: The biennial budget provision for development support services in the UNDP office will be modified to include early response support.

Human Resources

d) Regional Advisors and regional roster of associated staff, 5 Regional Disaster Reduction Advisors located in Bangkok, Delhi, Nairobi and Panama and a team of 15 experts of associated staff to provide accurate support to the countries in the LAC region on risk reduction and early recovery through immediate deployment for policy advice, coordination, technical support, programming and training.
e) National Advisors and practitioners network. From a network of 25 National Disaster Reduction Advisors, in the Latin American region, during 2006 have been established three NDRA´s in disaster prone countries: Barbados, Ecuador and Guatemala and there are expected five more NDRA’s for 2008-2009. As part of the practice are part of the extended there are twenty five (25) focal points on disaster risk reduction in the UNDP Country Offices,
f) SURGE Deployment Mechanism. This mechanism enables UNDP to deploy UNDP skilled and trained staff to a country office facing an immediate crisis situation within days. Advisors are experts in one of these 12 areas: UN Coordination, Aid Coordination, resource mobilization, communications, recovery, country director, finance, human resources, field security, ICT, operations, procurement.
g) Early Recovery Expert Roster. The inter-agency Early Recovery Expert Roster (ERER) is a resource of the Cluster Working Group on Early Recovery. It primarily sources additional early recovery support in the form of Early Recovery Advisors and Early Recovery Cluster Coordinators to supplement existing capacity for early recovery coordination in RC Offices and UNDP Country Offices. Early Recovery Advisors from the ERER have been deployed to over 20 countries to date, including Uganda, Mozambique, Bangladesh, Kenya, the Philippines, etc. Deployments range from between six weeks to up to two years. The ERER can also provide expertise for inter-agency early recovery needs assessment, early recovery related information management, and early recovery strategic planning.
h) BCPR/UNV Rapid Deployment Facility (RDF). UNV interventions focus mainly on community involvement and capacity development. UNV supports in terms of mobilizing volunteers (mixed teams of national, international, Corporative Private Sector and community volunteers), networking and advisory services on promoting community volunteerism for service delivery, and creating links between government and communities.

Knowledge Management

i) Knowledge Platform - Virtual platform for practitioner’s network with on-line discussions, best practices, tools and contacts (
j) Knowledge Fairs - Fruitful space for knowledge sharing and interchange of experiences (
k) Inventories of experiences, lessons learned and best practices, More than 300 best practices and tools on preparedness, local risk management and climate change adaptation and recovery compiled and available.
l) South-south cooperation mechanism. Network for south-south cooperation between cities, national institutions, NGO´s, communities, etc.

Inventory of Tools:

- Videos - Awareness raising videos with experiences from the Andean region, the Caribbean and Central America (
- Comparative analysis national institutional and legislative system
- Disaster recovery guidelines
- Methodology for participatory workshops for set up early recovery frameworks/disaster risk reduction policies
- Reducing disaster risk
- Post disaster recovery guidelines
- Recovery lessons learned
- Standard presentations
- Integrated Climate Risk Management: a conceptual framework for integrating Disaster risk reduction and adaptation climate change
- Trainig courses for UNCT´s and governments: disaster risk reduction, early recovery and mainstreaming
- Guidelines for mainstreaming Disaster Risk Reduction on the CCA/UNDAF
- Knowledge Management Toolkit for Crisis Prevention and Recovery (
- Guidance Note on Early Recovery (
- UNDP Corporate Policy on Early Recovery (
- Standard Operating Procedures for immediate crisis response (
- SURGE Toolkit (
- Immediate crisis response checklist (
- Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) - Schematic:
- 2-page outline:
- Review of Post Disaster Recovery Needs Assessment and Methodologies: Experiences from Asia and Latin America (UNDP, 2007)
- Local Level Early Recovery Programming Framework
- Livelihoods (


UNDP/BCPR Regional Disaster Reduction Advisor, Panama

Angeles Arenas

Tel: (507) 302-4555


Website: BCPR

Further information: BCPR Mandate


In December 1991, the General Assembly adopted Resolution 46/182, designed to strengthen the United Nation’s response to both complex emergencies and natural disasters. The resolution created the high level position of Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC), combining into a single UN focal point the functions carried out by representatives of the Secretary-General for major and complex emergencies, as well as the UN’s natural disaster functions carried out by the UN Disaster Relief Coordinator, UNDRO. As part of the Secretary-General’s programme of reform in 1998, this function was reorganized into the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA. OCHA’s mandate includes the coordination of humanitarian response, policy development and humanitarian advocacy. OCHA has taken a lead role in supporting Government’s contingency planning and preparedness over the past years, in line with HFA Priority 5.

See: OCHA Online; ReliefWeb

Capacity for Disaster Reduction Initiative (CADRI)

Created in 2007 as the successor to the UN Disaster Management Training Programme (UN DMTP). CADRI is an initiative of UNDP/BCPR, OCHA, and the ISDR secretariat, serving as a vehicle through which the three organizations can maximize their ability to deliver as “one” for disaster risk reduction, focusing on capacity development. CADRI works with the UN system and governments at the country level, and supports the broader ISDR system to make capacity development a cross-cutting element for disaster risk reduction. Services include: training and facilitation, materials development and dissemination, knowledge exchange and networking, capacity development advisory services.

See more: CADRI

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