Inter-American Defense College (IADC): Seminar on Large Scale Disasters and Complex Emergencies

By Louis Alexander

Last February 5, I participated as the opening keynote speaker at the Inter-American Defense College (IADC) Seminar on Large Scale Disasters and Complex Emergencies. The seminar was held at Fort McNair Washington, DC and examined the various phases of disaster management with special emphasis on the roles of national and international organizations, and the complexities of civil-military planning throughout the disaster management continuum.

There were 15 countries represented throughout the Western Hemisphere, including senior military and civil-military delegates who collectively studied the complexities of disaster management from implementing integrated risk management policies, ensuring adequate disaster preparation, coordinating disaster response and managing large scale disaster recovery efforts. Panel members included representatives from international organizations and civil defense offices from the region.

The presentation included multiple aspects of the disaster management spectrum, with a focus on global platforms and public-private alliances, combined with the evolving engagement of the business community in disaster preparedness, mitigation and risk reduction.  Special attention was placed on the growing role of the business community and governments from variousdeveloping economies around the world, which represent a changing landscape with new practices and roles of these new actors in disaster management.

PADF continues to promote the principles and good practices associated with disaster preparedness, mitigation and risk reduction in all its work, especially through its Disaster Management Alliance (DMA), a unique regional platform established in 2004 that continues to serve as a vehicle to associate and focus the public and private sectors on disaster management issues, while promoting best practices throughout the region. In 2012, PADF highlighted the importance of this work and the principles behind it in countries such as Honduras, Jamaica, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Costa Rica, at regional international conferences, at the American Chambers of Commerce in Latin America (AACCLA), and at other American Chambers of Commerce meetings held throughout the region.

PADF recently signed a new agreement with Taiwan to implement a Regional Disaster Assistance and Reconstruction program over five years in Latin America and the Caribbean. This new program will support disaster response needs, projects that focus on disaster mitigation and also continue to build on the platforms and alliances that PADF has established on disaster preparedness, mitigation and risk reduction.