RP23 concludes with an ambitious ministerial declaration and updated Regional Action Plan
After three days of rigorous discussion and debate about how to best strengthen and finance inclusive disaster risk reduction and resilience, the hosts of the VIII Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas and the Caribbean (RP23) hailed the event as a success.
Held in Punta del Este, Uruguay, more than 1,000 people attended the first in-person RP forum since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with an additional 2,000 people following events virtually.
“During the past three days, we have met our objectives,” said Mami Mizutori, the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction. “We have strengthened horizontal integration, fostered collaboration, promoted knowledge exchange and strengthened partnerships and alliances between the public and private sectors.”
Throughout the event, local and national government officials, private sector representatives, non-governmental organizations, academics, researchers and other stakeholders discussed the role of science and technology in disaster risk reduction, multisectoral risk governance and sustainable finance and how the region can rebuild resilient infrastructure.
“Our region bears the brunt of disasters in the context of a changing risk landscape and the increasing reality of compounded risk,” said Prime Minister of Guyana Mark Phillips. “Against this backdrop, we must now collectively reaffirm our commitment to disaster risk reduction, the Sendai Framework and its targets as a pathway for sustainable development.”
The event concluded with officials publishing an updated Regional Action Plan (RAP) to implement the Sendai Framework 2015-2030 in the Americas and the Caribbean and a joint ministerial declaration.
The newly-agreed RAP reflected multiple plenary and panel discussions about the integrated nature of disaster risk reduction and recovery, made painfully evident across the region by the profound impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on lives and livelihoods.
According to a 2021 report from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean and the Pan-American Health Organization, the region accounted for 20 per cent of confirmed COVID-19 cases and 30 per cent of COVID-19 deaths globally, despite being home to less than 9 per cent of the world’s population.
The revisions to the RAP considered this, as officials adjusted the previous text to recognize the complex interconnectedness of disaster risk in terms of social, economic, human and environmental systems.
The updated RAP also establishes a two-year time frame for a wide range of priorities pertaining to understanding disaster risk, strengthening disaster risk governance through public and private partnerships and investing in scientific and technological solutions for disaster risk resilience and recovery.
Some of the most significant changes to the document involved investing in resilience and recovery, with the new RAP specifying that countries must work to strengthen cooperation with insurance companies and provide more financing for climate change adaptation.
“I believe that we have come to a common and real understanding,” said Phillips. “The greater utilization of science and technology is essential for disaster risk reduction. We must also recognize that our collective experiences, good practices, resources and skills present a unique opportunity to reduce our combined risk and promote our region's development.”
“We must leverage these collective strengths in accordance with Target G and all the other targets of the Sendai Framework to enhance cooperation and to support and complement national action,” he added. “We must also elevate disaster risk reduction as a national policy priority and mainstream disaster risk management into all aspects of our individual country's development efforts.”
Along with the updated RAP, representatives from the 31 member countries released a joint ministerial declaration acknowledging the importance of disaster risk reduction for sustainable development and climate change adaptation.
The declaration noted the need to integrate gender, intersectional and intercultural perspectives, strengthen collaboration between national meteorological and hydrological services and disaster risk management offices and address increasing natural and human-induced hazards, particularly in vulnerable areas.
The ministers emphasized the need for increased access to financial resources and investment in disaster risk reduction beyond response and recovery to prevention and mitigation. They also recognized the role of cities and local governments in implementing socially inclusive actions.
The declaration further highlighted the importance of science-based risk analysis, resilient infrastructure and the inclusion of marginalized groups in disaster risk reduction actions.
“Our countries have made significant strides towards achieving the goals of the Sendai Framework 2015-2030,” said Prime Minister of Grenada Dikon Mitchell. “Governments and organizations have invested heavily in human resources, early warning systems, response, education and infrastructure. However, hazards continue to impact our countries, bringing considerable damage and losses to people and economies.”
Now, it will be up to everyone who participated in RP23 to return home and begin to implement some of these recommendations ahead of the global midterm review of the Sendai Framework for disaster risk reduction, which takes place in New York in May.
“There is a well-known reflection that you are only as big as the challenge you set yourself,” said Mizutori. “We have decided to challenge neglect and sustainable development, environmental equality, vulnerability and governance mechanisms. A giant step forward in efforts towards a better future for all.”