International conference

Chilean capital holds U.N. disaster risk management forum

Experts from around Latin America congregating in the Chilean capital issue Santiago Communiqué, calling for political support for disaster risk reduction. 

Friday, November 30, 2012  
Onemi National Director Benjamin Chacana and Ricardo Mena, Region Chief of the United Nations Office Onemi National Director Benjamin Chacana and Ricardo Mena, Region Chief of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. Photo courtesy of the Chilean Interior Ministry.


Around 400 experts from Latin America and the Caribbean got together in the Chilean capital last week for a U.N. forum on managing, and reducing the risk of natural and man-made disasters.


The Third Session of the Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, held from November 26 through 28, identified different mechanisms for reducing the risk of disasters at local, national and regional levels.


A wide range of topics were addressed over the three-day event, including the recovery processes for natural disasters, based on the experiences of the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, and technical cooperation in disaster reduction.


Following a long final session participants issued the Santiago Communiqué, calling on the world to follow concrete action taken by countries within the Americas to speed up implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015, a international disaster reduction plan adopted by U.N. members seven years ago.


"[The Santiago Communiqué] recognizes the need to achieve a higher level of political commitment towards the establishment of clear targets for Disaster Risk Reduction that can be quantified and verified, as well as the mechanisms that enable monitoring and follow-up," the report read.


The decision to host the conference in the Chilean capital reflects the country’s outstanding reputation for managing natural disasters and its world leading anti-seismic architecture.


“The fact that the forum is being held in Chile reflects the government’s concern for a preventive approach that seeks to promote a culture of self-preservation when faced with emergencies,” said Chilean Deputy Interior Minister Rodrigo Ubilla.


Benjamin Chacana, director of Chile’s National Emergency Office (Onemi), said that the forum offered an opportunity to “debate how we can continue to strengthen the integration of disaster risk reduction into government policies and planning, and also strengthen national institutions to increase resilience against natural disasters.”


Among those attending the conference were Margareta Walstrom, representative of U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and Ricardo Mena, regional chief for the Americas at the U.N. Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. 

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