Economy| Reduction of vulnerability: Meeting in Bogotá of Experts and Policymakers

· Economics
Authorsá — – Experts and policymakers will meet December 11-12 in Bogota, Colombia, in the San Carlos Palace, headquarters of the Colombian Foreign Relations Ministry, to explore strategies and mechanisms to increase investments towards the reduction of vulnerability of natural hazards in the economic and social infrastructure.The meeting titled “Analysis: cost-benefit: proving that investing in the reduction of vulnerability in the Americas is a better option,” is hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Relations and the Office of Disaster Attention of the Interior and Justice Ministry of Colombia, and the Organization of American States’ Department of Sustainable Development, through the Interamerican Mitigation and Disasters Network.

The meeting will bring together more than 40 people, including experts from international organizations and banks, such as the Pan American Health Organization ( PAHO ) and specialized agencies from the United Nations; regional intergovernmental specialized organizations, such as the Coordination Center for the Prevention of Natural Disasters in Central America and the Andean Committee for the prevention and Attention of Disasters, private businesses and public organizations.

The gap between potential losses and the capacity of many countries to finance the post-disaster reconstruction has reached alarming levels. The Peruvian Association of Engineers estimates that the cost to reconstruct Pisco and Chincha, from the devastating damages caused by the 7.9 Richter earthquake of August 15, is 600 million US dollars. According to some previsions, the disaster could impact as much as one percent of economic growth, projected in almost 8% of this year; while others believe that the reconstruction process will take the total of that projected growth.

The reduction of risk of natural danger has become a central element of development in the majority of countries of the region. Modest investments in risk reduction can strengthen the communities and can be measured in saved lives, goods protected, families not displaced, and the decrease of interruption of normal development of economic activities.

This type of investments include the adoption of construction codes, the implementation of better planning of the use of land and ordering of territory with consideration of risk. The meeting will contribute, as a first step, to the harmonization of criteria, methodologies and indicators to identify and evaluate risk, and promote common strategies to influence on decision making at all levels and sectors, and fundamentally, among those responsible for planning, finances and national budgets in the OAS Member States.

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