Strategy for Disaster Reduction
Latin America and the Caribbean
Newsletter ISDR Inform - Latin America and the Caribbean
The Third Meeting of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Disaster Reduction
The Third Meeting of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Disaster Reduction convened at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, on 3-4 May 2001. The meeting was chaired by Mr. Kenzo Oshima, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Chairman of the Inter-Agency Task Force. Mr. Denis Benn, Director a.i. of the ISDR Secretariat, served as Secretary.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Kenzo Oshima underlined the importance of disaster reduction and the successful transition from IDNDR to the new ISDR programme, for which he is responsible as Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs. He also noted that the Secretary-General for the United Nations had requested him to work actively in this field. Mr. Oshima said that there was an increasing number of activities being carried out by numerous partners within and outside the UN system in support of the objectives of the Strategy. He recognized that the tenure of Mr. Denis Benn as Director ad interim of the Secretariat for ISDR had brought about a decisive progress in the implementation of the ISDR programme and had contributed to much of its success. Mr. Oshima thanked Mr. Benn, who completed his assignment as Director ad interim on 7 May, and wished him well for his return to the University of West Indies.
Among many other agenda items, the meeting discussed the work being carried out by the four working groups established by the Inter-agency Task Force to advance its work.
The work of the Working Group N. 1. (Climate and Disasters), led by WMO, is based on the understanding that climate events at the global scale can cascade down in time and spatial scales to weather events. There is therefore a need for an overall understanding on how conditions conducive to disasters can develop over all time scales. The working group had finalized its membership and established three distinct areas of focus. (1) A sectoral review of climate monitoring systems, (2) continuing mandate of the Inter-Agency Task Force on El Niño, and (3) reporting to the Inter-agency Task Force for Disaster Reduction and the UN General Assembly with regard to El Niño activities. This Working Group is also following up the work of the former Inter-agency Task Force on El Niño, which was operational during the IDNDR.
Working Group N.2. (Early Warning), led by UNEP, informed that a videoconference had been held recently to discuss the work of the group. The group had also revised a paper on Early Warning prepared by the ISDR Secretariat in support of the group. A detailed work plan will be drawn up in the next few months in close collaboration with the ISDR Secretariat and the members of the Task Force.
Working Group N. 3. (Quanti-fication of Risk, Vulnerability and Impact of Disasters), led by UNDP, presented a review of the work of the Group. The Working Group has envisaged the following outputs for the period 2001-2003: Information and documentation exchange through electronic means concerning ongoing initiatives and existing tools and methods for risk and vulnerability assessment, develop indicators and models for incorporating risk and vulnerability considerations at national and local levels (CCA, UNDAF, and also in cooperation with UNCHS), review existing approaches to disaster impact assessment, review experiences of application of risk, vulnerability and impact assessment to achieve disaster reduction.
Working Group N. 4. (Wildland fires), led by GFMC (Global Fire Monitoring Center) was established at the second meeting of the Task Force, in October 2000, following the recognition of the need to establish an inter-sectoral platform able to address the issue of wildland fires, which have had a devastating impact in most parts of the world over recent years, both in terms of human and economic losses. WG4 envisaged to identify and concentrate on gaps of global and inter-sectoral nature requiring joint efforts by various UN and non-UN entities.
Framework for the implementation of the Strategy
The meeting discussed a revised draft of the Framework for the implementation of the Strategy, which is the basic guide to the implementation of the ISDR programme by all actors concerned. The Task Force endorsed the Framework document with a provision that it would remain a flexible framework and a living document, which the ISDR Secretariat would undertake to update in accordance with the comments made during the discussion and future developments of the ISDR. There was also consensus that the document would be brought to the attention of ECOSOC, at its forthcoming session in July 2001.
The Task Force discussed the proposal made by the ISDR Secretariat of an expanded and updated terminology on disaster reduction. The initiative to consolidate in one publication the large variety of definitions and concepts employed in the field of disaster reduction received support from the meeting and the ISDR Secretariat was invited to continue efforts in this direction, in consultation with the members of the Task Force.
The participants were briefed about the launch of the 2001 World Disaster Reduction Campaign focusing on the theme of Countering Disaster, Targeting Vulnerability. (see page 6-9 for more information on the campaign). Public information campaigns are carried out by the ISDR Secretariat as important tools to create a global culture of prevention.
The meeting discussed the work to be done in the near future to advance the implementation of the Strategy. Among other matters, Task Force members and several observers agreed on the need to pursue the strengthening of the ISDR Regional outreach as well as the establishment of national platforms for advocating the goals of the ISDR.
The next Task Froce meeting will take place in Geneva in early October, in conjunction with the celebrations of the International Day for Disaster Reduction (October 10th).