As the 4th Global Community Resilience Forum gets underway in Cali, Colombia, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies from across the world together with government representatives, partners from the corporate sector, UN and intergovernmental bodies are focused on scaling up efforts in strengthening community resilience.
In his opening remarks, Under Secretary General of the IFRC’s Programme and Services Division, Walter Cotte, said that the meeting is an important platform for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and its member National Societies to determine the way forward to scale up their work in community resilience, strengthen advocacy and communication, mobilize resources, and improve the skills needed to ensure lasting impact.
“There is little doubt that climate change, urbanization, population growth and environmental degradation will continue to increase the impact of disasters. But how can we ensure that we are better informed, prepared and therefore more resilient when the next disaster strikes?” said Walter Cotte.
According to Walter, although resilience has only now become a common word in the humanitarian sector, the concept is not new to the IFRC. “National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have been doing resilience work for decades, it is at the heart of what National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies do, day to day,”
The President of the Colombian Red Cross Society concurred with this in his opening remarks, “Our organization has been putting forward programmes that promote communities’ ability to be responsible for their health, protection, risk management, disaster preparedness, and increasing knowledge about risk.”
“We have also been hard at work, for more than 10 years, helping communities establish early warning systems in high risk zones and helping these communities prepare for emergency response in collaboration with their local authorities.”
Participants will have the opportunity to see this in action during the forum by visiting communities where the Colombian Red Cross has been working with local authorities and partners to reduce risks and strengthen their resilience.
There are no easy solutions but it is evident that without strengthening the resilience of communities, the damaging impact of crises will continue to rise. Over the past three decades, the costs imposed by natural disasters have quadrupled, and now annually exceed 200 billion dollars globally. This is why investment in disaster risk reduction must be high up on our list of priorities – to prevent hazards from turning into crises.