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COVID-19 Embraced In Planning And Execution Of Regional Platform

(JIS) – The effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic have been embraced in the planning and execution of the Seventh Regional Platform instead of being viewed as obstacles, says the Chief of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) Secretariat for the Americas, Raul Salazar.

He told JIS News that discussions were held with the Government of Jamaica, hosts of the Seventh Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas and the Caribbean, on how to reprogramme the event once the COVID-19 pandemic reached the Caribbean.

“Jamaica remained very committed to the initial pledge to carry out the platform and once the date was defined, then the advisory council started to revise the agenda and decide which topics would be addressed.  COVID-19, which is a biological hazard, immediately became the centre of discussions,” he noted.

Mr. Salazar said that incorporating COVD-19 into the discussions on disaster risk reduction was not difficult because this type of hazard is covered in the Sendai Framework and is impacting all 35 countries in the region.

“We had discussions on how countries were prepared to address a hazard of this nature, reflecting on the capabilities of systems to address this situation, and how the Regional Platform would become a space for the country representatives to discuss what would be the future. These discussions include how disaster risk reduction could be addressed within the context of a pandemic that has started the process of systemic risk [assessment],” said Mr. Salazar.

He noted that systemic risk refers to the negative impacts of the health pandemic on other sectors like tourism and education, and on unemployment and gross domestic product (GDP).

COVID-19 has been incorporated into the four-day Regional Platform, with sessions examining topics such as ‘A regional approach to coordination on multi-hazards: 2020 lessons from the Caribbean’, ‘Strengthening Disaster Risk Governance: Lessons from COVID-19’, and ‘Achievements and challenges of risk governance in the context of the COVID-19 Pandemic. The case of Uruguay’.

At the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston, where the Regional Platform hybrid sessions are been conducted, local COVID-19 protocols are also being observed with social distancing across several session viewing rooms, mask wearing and the daily logging of temperatures of participants.

The Seventh Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction is being hosted by the Government of Jamaica from November 1 to 4 on the virtual platform, Hopin.

It is organised in partnership with the UNDRR and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency.