The meeting concluded with the adoption of the Cartagena Declaration, which calls for integrating DRR in all activity areas to promote more resilient communities and reduce vulnerability in the region, and urges UNISDR to continue providing institutional support for implementation, monitoring and review of DRR in the Americas and the Caribbean.
The event provided the space for actors in the region to exchange experiences regarding implementation of the Regional Action Plan, a guide for implementing the Sendai Framework in the Americas, which aims to align regional, national and local strategies with the Sendai Framework, and accelerate country-level implementation of the DRR agenda.
25 June 2018: Ministers and senior officials from the Americas and the Caribbean called for more progress on implementing the region’s roadmap for disaster resilience during the Sixth Regional Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in the Americas.
The meeting, which convened from 20-22 June in Cartagena, Colombia, and concluded with the adoption of the Cartagena Declaration, aimed to spark an increase in the number of national and local strategies for disaster reduction in the region by 2020.
The Cartagena Declaration, calls for, inter alia:
- integrating DRR in all activity areas to promote more resilient communities and reduce vulnerability in the region;
- making DRR a public policy priority by developing and strengthening DRR plans and strategies at the national and local levels;
- strengthening the development and dissemination of methodologies and science-based tools that facilitate implementation of prevention and preparation measures;
- increasing awareness and knowledge among adults and children about disaster prevention, resilience and responsible citizenship;
- strengthening institutional platforms for DRR to enhance cooperation among stakeholders; and
- examining progress in implementing the Sendai Framework for DRR as part of broader monitoring processes related to other UN conferences and summits, including the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).
The Declaration also recognizes: the disproportionate impact of disasters on women, girls, people living with disabilities and other vulnerable groups; the need for a participatory approach to DRR to reduce social, economic and psychological impacts of such disasters; the need to support indigenous communities and the integration of their traditional knowledge into disaster preparedness and response; and the need for the UN Office for DRR (UNISDR) to continue providing institutional support for implementation, monitoring and review of DRR in the Americas and the Caribbean. [Cartagena Declaration] [UNISDR Press Release on Cartagena Declaration]
The meeting provided the space for actors in the region to exchange experiences regarding implementation of the Regional Action Plan for Implementation of the Sendai Framework on DRR in the Americas, agreed in March 2017 in Montreal, Canada. The Action Plan aims to align regional, national and local strategies with the Sendai Framework, and accelerate country-level implementation of the DRR agenda over the next two years.
The Regional Platform brought together representatives of national and local governments, the private sector, and the scientific and academic community, as well as indigenous peoples, women, youth, seniors and people living with disabilities, to discuss, inter alia: achieving the Sendai Framework’s goals of reducing disaster risk, loss of lives, the number of people affected by disasters, and economic losses; investing in DRR; and aligning DRR, climate action and poverty eradication across the region.
Colombia was the first country to align its national development plan with the SDGs and the Sendai Framework.
During the meeting, participants also emphasized strengthening domestic efforts, regional cooperation and partnerships, including public-private partnerships (PPPs). They called for identification and communication of losses caused by disasters through the online Sendai Framework Monitor, which was launched by UNISDR in March 2018 to facilitate the collection of data on disaster losses and track progress on meeting the Sendai Framework’s targets.
Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for DRR and UNISDR Head, Mami Mizutori, noted that Colombia was the first country to align its national development plan with the SDGs and the Sendai Framework, explicitly integrating DRR and climate action as conditions for resilient growth. Emphasizing that effective disaster risk management (DRM) requires an “inclusive, all-of-society approach,” she stressed that saving lives in potential disaster zones depends on implementing national and local DRR strategies and strong political leadership at all levels. [Sixth Regional Platform for DRR in the Americas Website] [UNISDR Press Release on Opening of Meeting] [UNISDR Press Release on Colombia’s Progress on Risk Management]
The meeting followed one of the most destructive hurricane seasons on record in the Caribbean, and addressed the extent to which the death toll was initially underestimated by not counting victims whose medical care was interrupted by transport failures or power outages. The conference acknowledged that the 2017 hurricane season, while posing significant challenges, also offered opportunities to build better disaster preparedness and response systems, including through enhanced response capacity and building standards. The meeting saw the Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems (CREWS) initiative present the outcomes of an expert review, ‘Lessons Learnt on Early Warning Systems during the 2017 Caribbean Hurricane Season,’ which identifies ways to enhance early warning systems and increase preparedness of Caribbean communities for the 2018 season, and describes how the events affected men and women differently. [UNISDR Press Release on Caribbean Rising to Resilience Challenge] [CREWS Initiative Press Release]
The conference also underscored the ability of the Sendai Framework to “unleash” science to reduce risks posed by natural disasters. However, the meeting also acknowledged that disaster reduction is not yet a high research priority in the Americas, and underscored efforts to: bridge differences between countries in scientific investigation capacity; harmonize academic agendas with national DRR plans; and ensure databases containing information on natural disasters are open and accessible to all. [UNISDR Press Release on Sendai Framework Unleashing Science on DRR]
The meeting also saw five cities from the region share plans to reduce disaster losses. The cities are among twenty cities taking part in a three-year programme, ‘Making Cities Sustainable and Resilient: Implementing the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 at the Local Level,’ which was launched in 2016 by UNISDR, the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and the European Commission to help local governments better manage disaster risks. The conference also highlighted that nearly 2,000 cities and towns across the region are taking part in UNISDR’s ‘Making Cities Resilient’ campaign, which aims to strengthen local efforts to reduce disaster risk. [UNISDR Press Release on Cities Sharing Plans to Reduce Disaster Loss]
The Government of Colombia, in cooperation with UNISDR, hosted the meeting. Jamaica will host the next Regional Platform in 2020, the first time the meeting will be held in a Caribbean country. The Sendai Framework is expected to contribute to achieving the SDGs, particularly those related to eradicating poverty (SDG 1), building resilient communities (SDG 11) and action on climate change (SDG 13). [UNISDR Press Release on Closure of Meeting]