Alliances between international organizations:

Sálvano Briceño

Sálvano Briceño Secretariat Director, International Strategy for Disaster Reduction

Sálvano Briceño was appointed the Director of the Secretariat of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UN/ISDR) in June 2001. His career has involved him in senior level posts for the management of environmental and sustainable development programs at the United Nations, the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and the government of Venezuela.

Close to 90% of the loss of life due to all natural disasters in the last 10 years has been the result of hazards such as floods, droughts, tropical cyclones, heat waves and severe storms. But reported loss of life has decreased - from 2.66 million over the 1956-1965 decade to 225,000 from 1996 to 2005. The reduction in loss of life is attributed to preventive and preparedness strategies involving contingency planning and early warning systems. WMO's Natural Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Program is working with its partners to strengthen those systems.

Information from Dr Maryam Golnaraghi, Chief of Programme.


Building a Global Platform

The UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UN/ISDR) has organized itself around a partnership approach to catastrophe prevention and management. Its latest project, a Global Platform, institutionalizes this approach and brings a range of civil society bodies into the discussions with governments and the UN.

The Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction includes among its partners all the major UN organizations concerned with development - not just FAO, UNEP, UNDP and UN Volunteers but also ILO, ITU and WMO, humanitarian offices such as OCHA and the World Food Programme, educational and scientific organizations such as UNESCO, UN University and UNITAR, the human settlement program (UN-Habitat) and the World Bank. To these we have added regional bodies, civil society organizations ranging from medical and climate research groups to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Munich Re- insurance company, which has been analyzing the consequences of climate change for over 30 years.

The Global Platform, with its first session organized for 5-7 June 2007 in Geneva, was therefore designed to become the main global forum for disaster risk reduction. Our aim has been to expand the political space dedicated by governments to disaster risk reduction, in all sectors, and contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals particularly with regard to poverty reduction and environmental sustainability. As a global forum, this new platform will advocate for effective and timely action by nations, communities and all stakeholders and partners to mitigate vulnerabilities, manage risk and reduce disaster.

Convened by the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, the forum means there is now a multistakeholder mechanism for the ISDR system. Its key objectives are raising awareness; sharing experience and good practices; assessing progress in implementing the 2005-2015 Hyogo Framework for building the resilience of nations and communities to disaster, and strengthening cooperation among ISDR system partners.

Regional meetings and processes will complement and feed into the Global Platform.

The first priority for action in the Hyogo Framework is to ensure that disaster risk reduction is a national and a local priority with a strong institutional basis for implementation. That is why we set as some of the topics for participants to consider: the challenges in mega-cities and urban settings, health care, ecosystem management, climate change, early warning, and disaster preparedness, with side events on public-private partnerships and the role of NGOs, media and other stakeholders.

The Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction has been designed to become the main global forum on disaster issues.

We are very conscious of the need to convince partners, media and the public in innovative ways to spread the message of disaster reduction. We are a small secretariat - and we do not expect ever to become a major organization of the United Nations system: it seems that the time for creating such institutions has passed. The way forward is through linkages - what I call a blue-green alliance between the United Nations and environmentally conscious institutions - to replicate and tailor what we produce in Geneva to the needs of communities.

Children in particular are people we want to reach and persuade them to take on board and pass on to others the lessons we have learned. The 2006-2007 World Disaster Reduction Campaign was on the theme of «Disaster Risk Reduction Begins at School». We have issued a booklet with a game for junior school students, and in March 2007 we posted a downloadable game on the Web designed for secondary school students to teach them how to build safer villages and cities against disaster. We are also producing a DVD offering the game in several languages.