OAS | Inter-American Committee on Natural Disaster Reduction Divides Tasks among Members in Meeting at the OAS

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The Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Albert Ramdin, today presided over a meeting of the Inter-American Committee on Natural Disaster Reduction (IACNDR), on behalf of the Chair of the Committee and Secretary General of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza, at which members established a new division of labor.

The members of the Committee signed an Aide Memoire in which they reaffirmed their commitment to the body, as the main forum of the Inter-American System for the development of a strategic approach and coordinated action in matters of disaster risk management. Moreover the document established the following division of the labors of the Committee: the Sub-committee for disaster preparedness and response and humanitarian assistance will be led by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO); the Sub-committee for financial affairs related to rehabilitation, reconstruction, disaster prevention and mitigation will be led by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB); and the Sub-committee for policy on matters of disaster risk management will be led by the OAS General Secretariat, through its Executive Secretariat for Integral Development (SEDI), with the support of the Inter-American Network for Disaster Mitigation (INDM).

Ambassador Ramdin, upon signing the document, said “the OAS was ahead of its time in putting a lot of effort and focus on natural disaster mitigation starting in the 1990s.” Likewise, he called on the countries of the Hemisphere to sign and ratify the Inter-American Convention on Natural Disaster Assistance, to help build greater capability to mobilize resources when necessary. This, said Ambassador Ramdin, should be the main objective of the Committee for the upcoming year.

The Chair of the Permanent Council and Representative of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to the OAS, La Celia Prince, called the Committee “a very important instrument of the Inter-American System.” I speak as the representative of a country that has been pummeled time and time again by natural disasters as recently as Christmas Day last year, and I assure you that having mechanisms like this in place is very important. I´m pleased we are having this conversation today, and I hope it continues to bear fruit, as you all know we are all increasingly battered by natural disasters, in both the Caribbean and in Central America.”

The Chair of the Inter-American Council for Integral Development and Permanent Representative of Trinidad and Tobago to the OAS, Neil Parsan, emphasized that efforts to mitigate the effects of natural disasters must be concerted. “Climate change is like a fly, it does not land in one place, it jumps from plate to plate,” affecting all, he said.

The IACNDR is the main forum of the OAS and the Inter-American system for the analysis of policies and strategies aimed at natural disaster reduction in the context of the sustainable development of member states. The IACNDR was created by the General Assembly based on the need to strengthen the role of the OAS in natural disaster reduction and emergency preparedness. The Committee is made up of the OAS; the IDB; PAHO; the Pan-American Institute for Geography and History; the Pan-American Development Foundation (PADF); the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA); the Inter-American Agency for Cooperation and Development (IACD); the Inter-American Defense Board (IADB); and the Inter-American Commission of Women. The meeting included the participation of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA); the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR); the Office of Disaster Assistance of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID); the Center for Coordination for the Prevention of Natural Disasters in Central America of the Central American Integration System (SICA); the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) from CARICOM; the Specialized Meeting of Risk Reduction of Socionatural Disasters, Civil Defense, Civil Protection, and Humanitarian Assistance (REHU); and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (FICR).

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.
For more information, please visit the OAS Website at www.oas.org.