SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador, 24 June 2015 – Disaster risk reduction needs to be a key component of development in order to secure sustainable results, UNISDR’s head Ms. Margareta Wahlström told a key meeting in Central America, one the most climate-vulnerable regions in the world.
Addressing the 3rd Consultative Forum of the Central American Policy for Integrated Risk Management, hosted by El Salvador, she underscored the importance of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, a 15-year global roadmap adopted by the international community in March.
“The challenge now is to go from disaster risk reduction management to an effective disaster risk reduction strategy as a development plan,” Ms. Wahlström, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, told the Forum which was opened by El Salvador’s President Salvador Sánchez Cerén.
She thanked Central America for the region’s important contributions to the multi-year negotiating process that helped to craft the Sendai Framework, the successor agreement to the 2005 Hyogo Framework for Action which steered disaster risk reduction efforts for a decade.
The Sendai Framework is based on an all-encompassing approach to make sure that disaster risk reduction is part and parcel of other areas such as health policy, investment and sustainable development. The goal is to prevent risk-reduction moves in one sector from increasing risk in others, as well as making sure that all members of society, including the most vulnerable, are involved in crafting and implementing measures. The overarching intention is to reduce disaster-related death and injury, as well as the number of people affected and the economic losses suffered.
Ms. Wahlström underlined that Central America, a region of more than 43 million inhabitants, is considered the second most-vulnerable in the world when it comes to climate risks. Asia is the most disaster-impacted part of the planet.
Environmental degradation, poverty and gaps in governance multiply the impact of natural hazards such as hurricanes, while the region, is also at risk from landslides, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Disaster losses over the past three decades have reached US$64 billion, according to estimates by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).
Crisscrossed by nearly 6,700 kilometres of international borders, Central America has long been aware of the importance of a regional vision to reduce disasters. In 1987, governments created the Coordinating Center for the Prevention of Natural Disasters in Central America (CEPREDENAC) to strengthen disaster prevention and preparedness through regional planning, information sharing, training, and coordination.
Ms. Wahlström recognised the significant advances in Central America to implement the Hyogo Framework. Among the many accomplishments, she highlighted the 2010 adoption of the Central America Policy for Integral Disaster Risk Management (PCGIR), thanks to the leadership of CEPREDENAC.
For his part, President Sanchez Cerén stressed the need to work on “sustainable development that integrates climate change adaptation and risk management.”
“One of the main objectives outlined in our Five-Year Development Plan is to move towards an economy and an environmentally-sustainable society resilient to the effects of climate change; because the progress of society cannot be extraneous to environmental sustainability,” he said.
El Salvador has also created a new cabinet to coordinate government work on environmental sustainability and disaster vulnerability.
The San Salvador Forum brought together key players from the region’s disaster risk sector, in order to strengthen regional and national visions for disaster risk reduction and to promote the PCGIR as a tool and political platform for sustainable development.
El Salvador’s Vice President Oscar Ortiz is a leading figure in disaster risk reduction.
During his prior appointment as Mayor of the Municipality of Santa Tecla (2000-2014), he was named as a champion of UNISDR’s “Making Cities Resilient” campaign, in recognition to his commitment to strengthening community resilience to risk.