SRSG Mizutori's remarks at the Opening of the VII Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas and the Caribbean

United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction

VII Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas and the Caribbean   


November 1-4, 2021  


Virtual Event 


Opening Ceremony Remarks   


Mrs. Mami Mizutori  


Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction and head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction 



It is an honour for me to be here today, with the Most Honourable Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness to inaugurate the VII Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas and the Caribbean organized with the Government of Jamaica and the Caribbean Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).  


I will also want to acknowledge the support and presence of:  

Hon. Desmond McKenzie, Minister of Local Government and Rural development, Government of Jamaica  

Elizabeth Riley Executive Director of CDEMA 

Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of ECLAC  

Garry Conille UN Resident Coordinator to the Multi-Country office in Jamaica  


I would like to welcome all the participants and representatives of Member States, local governments, civil society, the youth, community leaders, the private sector and members of the science and technology community who are joining us virtually. 

I would like to welcome all the participants and representatives of Member States, local governments, civil society, the youth, community leaders, the private sector and members of the science and technology community who are joining us virtually. 

This event is extremely special and important for the region. Not only is it the first time that a Caribbean government is hosting a Regional Platform, it is also the first time that an event of this kind takes place since the outbreak of the worst single disaster of the last 100 years, the COVID-19 pandemic which has resulted in 1.5 million deaths across the region.  

While overall vaccination coverage has reached 41% across the region, the Pan American Health Organization has warned of increased infection rates in the Caribbean, parts of Canada, Mexico, Bolivia, and Venezuela. This underscores the need to track and manage infections closely as vaccine rollout continues and, of course, the importance of ensuring pandemic preparedness is integrated into national disaster risk reduction strategies across the region. 

The lessons learned during this global emergency will undoubtedly play a central role in the discussions over the next days as we take stock of progress in the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction as the Mid-Term Review of the Sendai Framework gets underway. 

Latin America and the Caribbean is the region most affected by the pandemic in terms of the economy, jobs, and the impact on education. 

Against this backdrop, the region is also struggling to cope with the range of natural hazards that come with exposure to both the Atlantic and Pacific hurricane seasons, and widespread seismic risk which has resulted in an earthquake in Haiti, killing over 2,000 people, and a volcanic eruption which has severely disrupted life on  St. Vincent and the Grenadines.   

In Colombia, hit by Hurricane Iota last year, 321,000 people were affected this year by floods, hurricane-force winds, and landslides in 11 departments. Much of Central America bore the brunt of Hurricane Eta.   

The region’s experience is proof of the dramatic rise in extreme weather events fueled by climate change. 

Nine of the 10 countries that have suffered the greatest economic losses compared to the size of their economies are in the Caribbean, and the region accounts for 53% of reported global economic losses due to climate-related disasters.  

The RP21 also takes place just a few months after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its Sixth Assessment Report described by the Secretary-General as a code red for humanity 

The region demonstrates how interconnected all spheres of human activity are, and how important integration and inclusion are to achieve lasting relief from the risks which can spring from a deadly fusion of man-made and natural hazards 

It is a very appropriate moment for the Caribbean to be at the centre of a Regional Platform. Jamaica has shown great progress in disaster risk reduction and strengthened its risk governance considerably.  

Jamaica has become the first country in the world fully committed to urban resilience, having enrolled all its 14 local governments in the Making Cities Resilient 2030 initiative.  

It has also played an important role in previous Regional and Global Platforms and chaired the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on Indicators and Terminology related to Disaster Risk Reduction.  

This four-day event will delve into the possibilities for a resilient future. We will address how to protect the environment and communities. Discuss the challenges posed by human displacement. Explore strategies to strengthen early warning systems, urban resilience, and governance. And examine how to deal with multiple hazards.  

We will also present the Regional Assessment Report on Disaster Risk in Latin America and the Caribbean. This document acknowledges the region’s role as a major contributor to knowledge and understanding of disaster risk, particularly through the collection and analysis of empirical evidence from past disasters.  

The historical moment we are experiencing compels us to ensure that our discussions during this Regional Platform have a concrete impact on our decisions for the future.  

The Platform will host an intergovernmental meeting on the Regional Action Plan for the implementation of the Sendai Framework which is being updated considering the lessons learned from the pandemic.   

Prior to the Platform, we held two extremely important meetings: The Youth Forum for Disaster Risk Reduction and the ARISE Forum for the Americas and the Caribbean. Combined, these events gave us the opportunity to map out a better partnership strategy that will serve as a basis for the key discussions taking place during these four days. 

It is also a pleasure to note the recently created Latin American and Caribbean Network of Women for Disaster Risk Reduction 

While the creation of this network was supported by UN Women, the Global Network of Civil Society Organizations for Disaster Reduction (GNDR) and UNDRR, the network itself is an initiative by, and for, women and girls across the region. With a growing membership of about 800 women, this network will highlight their role as leaders of transformative change. I look forward to seeing how it develops and thank them for their inspiring ambition. 

 Likewise, I would like to extend my gratitude to the members of the Latin American and Caribbean Disability inclusive DRR Network for their remarkable support in ensuring the full participation of people with disabilities in this and previous Regional Platforms.  

I am confident that the outcomes of the different discussions as well as the Ministerial Declaration will help us establish the roadmap towards a resilient future based on risk-informed decisions.

I would like to reaffirm my gratitude to the Government of Jamaica, as well as to CDEMA, for persevering with the organization of this postponed Regional Platform.  

The realization of the RP21 is a good example of international cooperation in action. The region, indeed, the world, needs to act together if we are to find solutions to the planetary crises that we are facing including the pandemic and the climate emergency.   

I thank you very much for your participation and wish you all a very productive Regional Platform.  


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