Disaster Risk Reduction — A Global Experience
I had the fantastic opportunity to join other members of TNC’s Climate Risk and Resilience (CRR) strategy to represent our work in Mexico and TNC’s perspective at the United Nation’s Strategy for Disaster Reduction’s (UNISDR) 2017 Global Platform in Cancun, Mexico May 21-26.
The global conference takes place every two years and this was the first time for TNC to bring a delegation and participate, alongside partner including the Red Cross Global Disaster Preparedness Center, the Mexican Government, and disaster risk and humanitarian agencies from around the world.
Our delegation of TNC staff, composed of staff working in areas ranging from international policy to coastal science, spent the week attending sessions relevant to ecological disaster risk reduction (DRR) and engaged in numerous fruitful meetings.
Kathy Baughman McLeod moderated an engaging two-part multi-sector panel for a completely full room that focused on cultivating resilience through nature, tourism, and finance. In the first panel, Guillermo Morales López, Director of Civil Protection for Puerto Morelos and Dr. Ismael Mariño, Researcher, Oceanography, Marine Resources CINVESTAV-Mérida, spoke about the importance of finding a balance with the environment and recognizing how nature can reduce risk from hurricanes.
In the second panel, Josué Serrano, Deputy Director General for Risk Management at Mexico’s Ministry of Interior, Dr. Mike Beck, TNC’s own Lead Marine Scientist, and Walter Cotte Witingan, Regional Director for the Americas for the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, discussed the best strategies for disaster management in Mexico and Latin America. The audience was at the edge of their seats during Dr. Beck’s presentation of new results from mangrove assessments completed recently in the Philippines.
The TNC delegation helped to advance the current work in Mexico, but also was able to continue to build TNC’s presence in the humanitarian sector and the DRR network.
TNC’s presence at the meeting was welcomed with open arms from the humanitarian sector as it is becoming increasingly important to understand the local and global context for the role of coastal ecosystems in reducing disaster risk and the science that shows the cost-effectiveness of nature-based risk reduction.
The packed full room of attendees at the TNC-led side event as well as the sheer number of people eager to engage in dialogue about how TNC’s work fits into the humanitarian realm was tribute to the importance of integrating these bodies of work. It was truly exciting to be a part of this momentous conference for the CRR strategy of the Global Oceans team, and to see first-hand how TNC, a leading science organization, fits into the humanitarian space and can show how nature can play a larger role in protecting people and communities from disasters.