International Strategy for Disaster Reduction
Latin America and the Caribbean   

2005 - 2004

January - 2005
" Learning from today's disasters for tomorrow's hazards"
2004 World Disaster Reduction Campaign

The ISDR secretariat wishes ISDR Highlights readers the very best for 2005, a year which holds great promise for the advancement of disaster reduction beyond the World Conference on Disaster Reduction to be held this month in Kobe, Hyogo, Japan.

The secretariat also takes this opportunity to express its sincere condolences to those affected by the tragic tsunami disaster of 26 December 2004

World Conference on Disaster Reduction (WCDR), Kobe, Hyogo, Japan, 18-22 January 2005

Daily updates on the WCDR
The WCDR website is being updated on a daily basis, providing important news on WCDR events and logistics information. Stay in touch with what is happening before and during the WCDR by making your homepage, or make a link from your website so that your partners can follow the Conference.

Two extra sessions on tsunamis at WCDR
Following the recent tsunami disaster in Asia, it was decided that two extra sessions will be held at the WCDR. A special session will be held on Thursday 20 January at Kobe in the plenary. High-ranking government officials from affected countries and Japan will be present together with Jan Egeland, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, who will be co-chairing the session. Another technical session organized by the UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) will be held on Saturday 22 January, bringing together several tsunami experts to see how effectively mechanisms can be installed to develop existing facilities.
More news on the South Asia tsunami is available at

Change of time: WCDR opening
WCDR participants are requested to note that the opening time on 18 January has now been changed to 10:30am.
To view the WCDR schedule and room allocation, please refer to

Thematic segment: Discussion papers now available on-line
A range of sessions will be held under the umbrella of the WCDR Thematic Segment, falling under the following five themes:
1. Governance: Institutional and policy frameworks for risk reduction (UNDP/BCPR, ProVention Consortium Secretariat, UN-HABITAT, UNV)
2. Risk identification, assessment, monitoring and early warning (WMO, UNU, EC/JRC)
3. Knowledge management and education: Building a culture of resilient communities (UNESCO, IFRC; UNICEF)
4. Reducing the underlying factors (UNEP, WHO, UNCRD)
5. Preparedness for effective response (OCHA, WFP)
Discussion papers on each theme are now available at

ECHO/ISDR good practices for resilient communities
The ISDR Secretariat in consultation with experts in disaster reduction and the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) has identified 24 initiatives to be displayed in an “ECHO/ISDR good practices for resilient communities”exhibit at the Public Forum of the World Conference on Disaster Reduction. Under ECHO sponsorship with local partners and NGOs, the exhibit provides an inter-active venue to present posters, and to share and disseminate experiences.
For further information on the exhibit, please refer to

" Recovery from Catastrophic Disasters" public forum

Transitional recovery from major or medium size disasters is a grey area which represents the opportunity to focus on introducing risk reduction measures. Media attention and interest from authorities and the international community is great in the early aftermath of a major disaster; however, lessons from the past show that the opportunity is quickly lost if not acted upon based on previous planning. On 24 August a public form on recovery on catastrophic disasters was held at UN University in Tokyo (Japan), attracting over 250 participants, including H.I.H.the Crown Prince of Japan, and held on the occasion of Japan's Disaster Prevention Day and the Disaster Prevention Week. The event was organized by ADRC with the Cabinet Office of Japan, UNU, UN/ISDR UNDP in cooperation with USAID, NHK and Hyogo Prefectural Government.

For further information on the public forum, please contact

Education and disasters
On 7-9 September OAS, UNESCO, UNICEF and UN/ISDR organized a regional meeting on education for disaster risk reduction in San Andrés, El Salvador. Over 100 participants from 17 countries in the region attended the meeting, requesting that the resulting declaration be taken into consideration at PrepCom 2 and at the WCDR.
The San Andrés Declaration is available at

The Regional Disaster Information Center for Latin America and the Caribbean (CRID) produced a CD with information on education and disasters that was presented at the Latin American Meeting on Education and Disaster Risk Reduction.
To access the CD on-line, please refer to

UNESCO, in collaboration with Kyoto University, and other partners is working on the identification of best practices and case studies on education for disaster reduction. A compilation of such studies will be prepared for the WCDR as well as in the lead up to the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development.

Submissions should be sent to by 31 October 2004.
For further information, please contact

Communication and public information in the Americas
On 24-26 August a regional meeting on communications and public information for disaster reduction was held in Antigua, Guatemala) co-organized by PAHO, UNESCO, IFRC and the UN/ISDR regional office for Latin America and the Caribbean. The meeting reviewed the current situation in the region and highlighted areas for attention such as the development and implementation of communication policies and strategies; the role of the media; and science, technology and communication, which in turn will contribute to the discussions to be held at the WCDR.

Further information on the meeting including the final proceedings are available on request from

Gender equality and disaster risk reduction
On 10-12 August a workshop was held in Honolulu, Hawai'i that provided a forum for dialogue and strategizing across disciplines, sectors, regions and all other boundaries that divide those with shared concerns about women's empowerment, social equality and the risk of disaster.

For further information on the meeting, please contact

El Niño and its global impact
The International center for research on the El Niño phenomenon (CIIFEN) and the European Geosciences Union are organizing on the El Niño phenomenon and its global impact on 16-20 May 2005 in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

Further information is available at

Hurricane season continues
Early warning demonstrated its value in recent major storms and hurricanes affecting the Caribbean, with losses of lives a tiny fraction of what they might have been. As hurricane Ivan continues its destructive path across the Caribbean, media reports demonstrate the value of investing in disaster risk reduction thanks to measures taken by populations living in Ivan's and future hurricanes' paths.

For more on risk reduction and early warning see

Up-to-date news on this season's hurricanes is available at the following websites:

New national platforms for disaster reduction
The month of August saw the creation of three new national platforms in Africa: Gabon, Republic of Congo and Kenya. The Congolese, Gabonese and Kenyan ISDR National Platforms will join the worldwide network of platforms that along with the Inter-Agency Task Force on Disaster Reduction, the ISDR secretariat and ISDR regional offices and partner organizations, form part of the global implementation of the ISDR.
For further information on national platforms, please refer to