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OAS and PADF Further Cooperation to Prevent and Reduce the Impact of Natural Disasters in Latin America and the Caribbean

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The Organization of American States (OAS) and the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) today signed at OAS headquarters in Washington, DC a cooperation agreement through the two entities will broaden and deepen their cooperation in preventing and creating mechanisms to confront the impact that natural disasters cause in the most vulnerable sectors of the population in Latin America and the Caribbean.

At the signing ceremony for the agreement, the Secretary General of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza, recalled that for more than 50 years, the OAS and the PADF have actively worked together in various areas of development, "which indicates that on several occasions we have already had this type of agreements, with particular attention to cooperation in contributing to economic growth, social justice and humanitarian assistance." The PADF "is the best tool we have for disaster relief," he added.

The head of the hemispheric institution reiterated the commitment of the OAS to providing humanitarian and disaster aid and said "it is imperative to understand that today the scenario has changed, and it is characterized by the increase in the number and magnitude of the disasters and the effects of climate change, whose impact is very severe in some parts of the region." "The population and economic growth and rapid urbanization have increased the economic losses and the number of people affected by disasters," he said, adding that other consequences of this new scenario are significant declines in national fiscal accounts and national and regional economies, disruption of business operations and environmental degradation.

"This new scenario requires a shift in our approaches and strategies, because we must move from reactive to proactive, and move from post- disaster action to ex-ante action, increasing investment in disaster prevention and mitigation, fostering the active participation of all segments of society, considering that although governments remain responsible for setting policies and implementing strategies for disaster reduction, this new scenario requires that risk reduction becomes a shared responsibility," said Secretary General Insulza. At the end of his speech, Insulza referred to mechanisms and tools available for the OAS such as the Inter-American network for Disaster Mitigation and the Inter-American Plan for Disaster Prevention and Response and the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance.

For his part, the Executive Director of PADF, John Sanbrailo, expressed his satisfaction with the agreement and coincided with Secretary General Insulza on highlighting the long history of cooperation between the two organizations. "The OAS created PADF 52 years ago, and since then have worked in a coordinated manner in various initiatives; from the beginning we have had a very important role in the field of response to natural disasters. This agreement is a continuation of that effort," he said.

Executive Director Sanbrailo expressed his thanks for the support that Secretary General Insulza and Assistant Secretary General Albert Ramdin have given to the work of the Foundation and recalled concerted efforts in recent years to activate and mobilize resources in Haiti. "We will continue to expand the work we do for development in the Caribbean and South and Central America," he said.

The agreement signed today seeks to promote community-centered and local government-driven solutions to reduce the risks of natural disasters; facilitate stronger and more coordinated participation of civil society, the local private sector and from citizens in the diaspora to respond in case of a natural disaster; strengthen democratic institutions, public participation processes and public-private partnerships; and promote policy reforms in public and private institutions for the long-term sustainability of disaster risk reduction.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at www.oas.org.