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Feb 27, 2023

Setting the Stage for 8th Disaster Risk Reduction Platform in Latin America and the Caribbean

Annually, millions of people across the world are at risk of losing their lives and livelihoods, as a result of natural hazards, including hurricanes, floods, droughts, and earthquakes. According to the Global Fund for Disaster Risk Reduction, on average direct losses within the Caribbean as a result of natural disasters amount to almost two billion U.S dollars annually. Beyond those numbers, there are real people affected by the destruction of homes, community infrastructures, natural resources, and the list goes on. And while there may be little to nothing that can be done to change the trajectory, intensity, and frequency of these natural hazards, according to the United Nations Disaster Risk Reduction Office the scale or severity at which these events impact communities can be significantly reduced. News Five’s Paul Lopez reports from Uruguay.


Paul Lopez

Paul Lopez

Alonso Torres is an international consultant on disaster risk management, climate science and territorial development. Of recent his work has been focused on Latin America and the Caribbean. He spoke with us about the importance of this week’s event.


Alonso Torres

Alonso Torres, International Consultant

“We have made significant advances in terms of early warning and preparedness response which has been before and after since fifteen years ago we as a region start to bet on the importance of early warning systems because it is important for communities to know what to do when the hurricane or when the quake hits. We have to embrace that our countries are very dynamic in terms of the energy and the phenomena we face, meteorologically and seismically speaking. Beyond that point we are seeing significant progress in terms of embedding some processes of disaster risk management from the more prospective approach into sectoral topics of the development agenda, in terms of infrastructural resilience, resilience of critical services.”


The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 provides concrete action plans to UN member countries for the protection of development gains from the risks of disasters. Risks or vulnerabilities are at the heart of disaster risk management. It is widely viewed that natural hazards are not the main culprits of the annual destruction. How humans interact with the ecosystems and how we build our infrastructures contribute to the vulnerabilities we pass on from generation to generation. In Belize City, for example, families that build their homes in water catchment areas are at greater risk in the event of a flood or hurricane. Also, the absence of resilient building codes only increases those risks. Notwithstanding the need to build better, one of the greatest threats to reducing disaster risks is corruption.


Alonso Torres

“It affects everywhere. It is a challenge that spreads across the region and it is taking an increasingly taking a more significant toll in terms of the resources and how we use public monies and resources to put at the service of the society. We have been, our progress has been hampered by corruption and one particular way in which corruption affects the performances of our public services is when you look away, when you don’t use the resources you have at hand to make good planning of the services and the use of the public resources to construct, build infrastructure, good roads, good communications, things, like that are always erode by corruption, because that leads to spending less resources in strong infrastructure.”


Discussions at the Eight Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Management in Latin America and the Caribbean will focus not only on the exchange of experiences, but also the use of science and technology for comprehensive management of disaster risks. The sad truth, according to Torres, is that without greater investment in technology, Latin America and the Caribbean will see little progress in the coming years.


Alonso Torres

“Sadly Latin America and the Caribbean we have a very low investment rate in technology and you can see around the world, the differences in countries that invest and trust science and technology, for example some countries in Asia Pacific in contrast with what is happening in Latin America and the Caribbean with the public budgets for science, innovation, technologies, are decreasing since the eighties and if we don’t demand to our stakeholders to invest more strongly in science and technology and innovation there will be little room for improvement in the next coming years.”

Reporting for News Five, I am Paul Lopez.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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