Colombia gets ready for Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction

By Alexandra Dennis

a3aced1d9a73b7a177547a802f47c682-450x0PANAMA – Colombia’s cutting edge reputation for disaster risk management received a boost this week as high-level experts gathered in Bogota to identify strategic actions for disaster risk reduction in advance of this year’s Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction which will be a landmark event in discussions on a Post-2015 global framework for disaster risk reduction.

This week’s discussions follow legislation introduced last year, inspired by the current Hyogo Framework for Action, which focuses on improving disaster response mechanisms but also on disaster preparedness, risk reduction and risk knowledge. Law 1523 signed by President Juan Manuel Santos established a new “National System for Disaster Risk Management” and also emphasizes the importance of engaging with local communities.

Ricardo Mena, head of the UNISDR Regional Office for the Americas, said this week’s gathering was further proof of the significance being given to disaster risk reduction in Colombia.  He said: “Colombia has made remarkable progress in establishing a strong institutional and legal framework for disaster risk reduction. It is a role model for the region. Law 1523 is also proof that the country has taken on board the lessons from the 2010 floods which affected almost 3.5 million people.”

“The Future of Disaster Risk Management” held this week in Bogota focused on key issues as education, understanding of disaster risk processes and how vulnerability can be reduced and resilience enhanced. The National Director of Disaster Risk Management, Carlos Iván Márquez Pérez, thanked the panelists and participants, with a reminder that Disaster Risk Reduction is everybody’s business and highlighted the importance of the country’s Law 1523 which defines the National Policy on Disaster Risk Management and the National System for Disaster Risk Management as part of the development process.

Luz Amanda Pulido, former Director of Risk Management and current advisor to the Presidency’s National Council for Citizen Participation, stated that Colombians are advancing in terms of preparedness and financial risk transfer mechanisms. Omar Agudelo, Director of the National University’s Emergency Preparedness Centre recalled the importance of DRR at the local level, citing issues of overpopulation as exacerbating risk and vulnerability on the island of Tumaco in the Nariño Department in southwestern Colombia, that is highly prone to earthquake and tsunami risk.

Diana Rubiano, Risk Management Specialist with the World Bank provided insight into recent innovations and strategic practices in DRR.  Gustavo Wilches-Chaux, consultant and author, called upon participants to envision Colombia’s landscape in all its dynamism as fundamental to the decision-making process; with issues such as water resource management, climatological resilience, food security, and traditional knowledge and values as fundamental to the nation’s land-use planning and development.

The results of this week’s meeting will guide future initiatives on disaster risk management in Colombia, provide substantial input into ongoing post-2015 HFA global consultations and will be presented to the Fourth Session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction: “Invest today for a Safer Tomorrow”, to be held from May 19th to the 23rd in Geneva, Switzerland.




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