Author: Luis Burón B.

Good governance guarantees sustainable development

Source(s): United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction – Regional Office for the Americas and the Caribbean

Nothing undermines development more than disasters. The lack of strategies and planning when faced with an event of natural, human or biological origin could mean inevitable decline in a society’s efforts to promote development and growth. 

It is therefore necessary to carry out a review of development models and focus our renewed attention on the social and economic factors that increase our vulnerability and degree of exposure. What is needed above all is to construct good governance that protects and guarantees the resiliency of individuals and ecosystems and that permits effective management of change.

“Once and for all, we need to overcome the predominance of a reactive focus on disasters and adopt a strategy that integrates disaster risk reduction into the very DNA of development initiatives,” affirmed Mami Mizutori, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction in her participation in the webinar Risk Governance in context of Systemic Risk in the Americas and the Caribbean. The event, which featured the participation of important experts from various sectors, was organized by UNDRR - the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction as part of the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction, celebrated each year on October 13.

Governance is, after all, one of the pillars of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030). This framework, a global roadmap for risk reduction, establishes that governance is highly important for effective and efficient management of disaster risks at all levels in addition to its role in promoting collaboration and alliances across mechanisms and institutions in applying the relevant instruments to reduce the risk of disasters and achieve sustainable development.

According to a study by the Interamerican Development Bank (IADB), an increase in governance of just one point in the Index of Governance and Public Policy in Disaster Risk Management (iGOPP) equates to a 6.4% reduction in economic loss from a disaster and a 3% reduction in deaths. 

This means that governance is manifested in the number of lives saved, the reduction of the number of persons affected and the reduction of economic losses. “If there is a greater capacity on the part of government to face problems, there will be a greater effectiveness in the decisions that are taken,” explained Sergio Lacambra, Disaster Risk Management Lead Specialist at IADB, adding that this effectiveness in decisions taken permits the planning of a recovery process before disasters occur. 

If good governance is to become such a distinguishing feature, therefore, it must include a multidimensional and systemic perspective on risk that highlights the interconnection that exists between systems and countries. The COVID-19 pandemic is a clear example of the systemic nature of disasters: it is a health emergency that is triggering effects on political, economic and social sectors around the world. “We do not manage for change: we manage through change,” said the scientist Roger Pulwarty in reference to how governance must comprehend exactly those complexities of risk with a systemic view.  

According to the Sendai Framework, governance needs to establish strong and strategic alliances if it is to reduce disaster risk and achieve sustainable development. The private sector is one of those allies. This pairing must include cooperation, collaboration, communication and consistency, affirmed Lizra Fabien, Executive Director of the Dominica Association of Industry & Commerce and one of the main promoters of the Private Sector Alliance for Disaster Resilient Societies (ARISE) in the Caribbean region. “The private sector is one of the main hubs of economic growth, and the public sector facilitates this growth through good governance,” emphasized Fabien, referring to how good governance impacts all systems.

In its Target E, the Sendai Framework also proposes a substantial growth in the number of countries that maintain national and local disaster risk reduction strategies for 2020. Costa Rica is one of the most outstanding examples in the region in its application of national strategies. 

For this purpose, it has created a national system of public investment focused on risk management in addition to integral models and national planning systems. “We have a privileged institutional structure that facilitates good governance, but much still needs to be improved,” stated Pilar Garrido Gonzalo, Minister of National Planning and Economic Policy in the Government of the Republic of Costa Rica.

On the other hand, local governments that plan and develop policies and legislative frameworks that integrate disaster risk reduction enhance the management capacity of their governance. In Montevideo, Uruguay, for example, work has been underway since 1995 in the creation of national laws and decrees focused on risk management. “It is very important to incorporate a community dimension into the entire process,” said Andrea De Nigris of the Resilience Executing Unit of Montevideo, Uruguay.

“The Americas and the Caribbean continue to be the world’s most unequal region. In a region where the majority of the population lives in cities, the environmental degradation of many of the economic activities on which economic growth is based continues to be very high. This pandemic will result in 30 million people being added to the 184 million who already live under the poverty umbrella. If we do not approach disaster risk through a suitable governance structure that includes these systemic dimensions, the risk will continue to grow,” added Mami Mizutori during her participation in the webinar. 

Disasters occurring over the last 20 years, especially weather-related disasters, have doubled, and the same is true for the economic losses these have caused. Good governance thus becomes an inflection point for the integration and coherence of forces to reduce the risk of disasters, support sustainable development and combat climate change. This coherence translates into greater resilience on the part of our societies.

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Themes Governance
Country and region Americas Panama
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