Nothing undermines development more than disasters. The lack of
strategies and planning when faced with an event of natural, human
or biological origin could mean inevitable decline in a society’s
efforts to promote development and growth.
It is therefore necessary to carry out a review of development
models and focus our renewed attention on the social and economic
factors that increase our vulnerability and degree of exposure.
What is needed above all is to construct good governance that
protects and guarantees the resiliency of individuals and ecosystems
and that permits effective management of change.
“Once and for all, we need to overcome the predominance of a reactive
focus on disasters and adopt a strategy that integrates disaster risk
reduction into the very DNA of development initiatives,” affirmed
Mami Mizutori, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special
Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction in her participation in
the webinar Risk Governance in context of Systemic Risk in the Americas
and the Caribbean. The event, which featured the participation
of important experts from various sectors, was organized by
UNDRR - the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction
as part of the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction,
celebrated each year on October 13.
Governance is, after all, one of the pillars of the Sendai
Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030). This framework,
a global roadmap for risk reduction, establishes that governance
is highly important for effective and efficient management of
disaster risks at all levels in addition to its role in promoting
collaboration and alliances across mechanisms and institutions in
applying the relevant instruments to reduce the risk of disasters
and achieve sustainable development.
According to a study by the Interamerican Development Bank (IADB),
an increase in governance of just one point in the Index of Governance
and Public Policy in Disaster Risk Management (iGOPP) equates to a 6.4%
reduction in economic loss from a disaster and a 3% reduction in deaths.
This means that governance is manifested in the number of lives saved,
the reduction of the number of persons affected and the reduction of
economic losses. “If there is a greater capacity on the part of government
to face problems, there will be a greater effectiveness in the decisions
that are taken,” explained Sergio Lacambra, Disaster Risk Management
Lead Specialist at IADB, adding that this effectiveness in decisions
taken permits the planning of a recovery process before disasters occur.
If good governance is to become such a distinguishing feature, therefore,
it must include a multidimensional and systemic perspective on risk that
highlights the interconnection that exists between systems and countries.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a clear example of the systemic nature of disasters:
it is a health emergency that is triggering effects on political, economic
and social sectors around the world. “We do not manage for change: we manage
through change,” said the scientist Roger Pulwarty in reference to how
governance must comprehend exactly those complexities of risk with a systemic
According to the Sendai Framework, governance needs to establish strong and
strategic alliances if it is to reduce disaster risk and achieve sustainable
development. The private sector is one of those allies. This pairing must
include cooperation, collaboration, communication and consistency, affirmed
Lizra Fabien, Executive Director of the Dominica Association of Industry
& Commerce and one of the main promoters of the Private Sector Alliance for
Disaster Resilient Societies (ARISE) in the Caribbean region. “The private
sector is one of the main hubs of economic growth, and the public sector
facilitates this growth through good governance,” emphasized Fabien, referring
to how good governance impacts all systems.
In its Target E, the Sendai Framework also proposes a substantial
growth in the number of countries that maintain national and local
disaster risk reduction strategies for 2020. Costa Rica is one of the
most outstanding examples in the region in its application of national
For this purpose, it has created a national system of public investment
focused on risk management in addition to integral models and national
planning systems. “We have a privileged institutional structure that
facilitates good governance, but much still needs to be improved,” stated
Pilar Garrido Gonzalo, Minister of National Planning and Economic
Policy in the Government of the Republic of Costa Rica.
On the other hand, local governments that plan and develop policies and
legislative frameworks that integrate disaster risk reduction enhance the
management capacity of their governance. In Montevideo, Uruguay, for
example, work has been underway since 1995 in the creation of national
laws and decrees focused on risk management. “It is very important to
incorporate a community dimension into the entire process,” said Andrea
De Nigris of the Resilience Executing Unit of Montevideo, Uruguay.
“The Americas and the Caribbean continue to be the world’s most unequal
region. In a region where the majority of the population lives in cities,
the environmental degradation of many of the economic activities on which
economic growth is based continues to be very high. This pandemic will
result in 30 million people being added to the 184 million who already
live under the poverty umbrella. If we do not approach disaster risk
through a suitable governance structure that includes these systemic
dimensions, the risk will continue to grow,” added Mami Mizutori
during her participation in the webinar.
Disasters occurring over the last 20 years, especially weather-related
disasters, have doubled, and the same is true for the economic losses
these have caused. Good governance thus becomes an inflection point for
the integration and coherence of forces to reduce the risk of disasters,
support sustainable development and combat climate change. This coherence
translates into greater resilience on the part of our societies.
United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction – Regional Office for the Americas and the Caribbean
Provided by the IKCEST Disaster Risk Reduction Knowledge Service System