Desarrollando ciudades resilientes 1 Millón de Escuelas y Hospitales Más Seguros
Rio welcomes UNISDR and Brazilian Government "Centre of Excellence for Disaster Risk Reduction"

Min. Rondó Filho from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Ricardo Mena, UNISDR's Chief of Regional Office – The Americas, Mr. Humberto Viana National Secretary for Civil Defence,
Vice-Governor of Rio de Janeiro Mr. Luiz Fernando de Souza Pezão and Cel. Sérgio Simões, State Secretary of Civil Defence of Rio de Janeiro


By:  UNISDR - The Americas

Rio de Janeiro, 30 November 2012 – A joint effort of the Brazilian government and the Regional Office for the Americas of the United Nations Office for Disaster Reduction, UNISDR - The Americas, has led to the establishment of a Centre of Excellence for Disaster Risk Reduction. The strategic importance of this Centre was highlighted by several key experts and leaders within the “Institutional Networks for Disaster Risk Reduction Seminar”, which was organized by the State Secretary of Civil Defence of Rio de Janeiro and UNISDR - The Americas.


Ricardo Mena, UNISDR’s Chief of Regional Office – The Americas, highlighted the great advances of Brazil in the last 2 years pinpointing the strong leadership, the new legislation in place and the new plan that strengthens disaster risk reduction and expressed: “This Centre will contribute to accelerate the urgent implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action 2010-2015 to build resilience in nations and communities, as called by the heads of 148 states in the recent Word Summit for Sustainable Development, Rio+20”.

This Centre will contribute to increase awareness of the importance of disaster risk reduction to protect the country’s development gains from being lost through recurring – but predictable – disasters and will also support Brazil’s efforts to strengthen disaster risk reduction and to support policies for disaster risk reduction through a mechanism called the National Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in close collaboration with the National Secretariat of Civil Defence and other federal and state entities.

During the opening of the seminar headed by the Vice-Governor of Rio de Janeiro Luiz Fernando de Souza Pezão, Humberto Viana National Secretary for Civil Defence and Cel. Sérgio Simões, State Secretary of Civil Defence of Rio de Janeiro and Minister Milton Rondó Filho of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; 15 key international experts, academics, political and community leaders -including Ricardo Mena- received from the hands of Cel. Simões the medal of the “Merit of the Civil Defence of Rio de Janeiro”, in recognition of UNISDR’s leading role and the work being carried out to support Brazil in its quest to promote disaster risk reduction.

Cel. Simões emphasized that “the great role of civil Defence is to do risk management and not disaster management.” He further stressed that the centre will contribute to a greater integration of the experts from various areas, as well as aligning the work of disaster risk reduction with the current international policies:  “The centre will facilitate significantly the link with the United Nations.”

The establishment of this pioneer Centre of Excellence for Disaster Risk Reduction is the culmination of a consultation process that began in 2005 as part of a global effort to establish centres of excellence for disaster risk reduction focusing on building resilience, building upon Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s focus on the need to devise plans to improve the country’s disaster readiness. Last year, Brazil placed third on the list of countries where the world’s deadliest catastrophes occurred – behind Japan, which experienced an 9.0 magnitude quake in March, and the Philippines, which underwent massive flooding in December.

The Centre will be based in facilities provided by the Fundação Instituto Osvaldo Cruz, FIOCRUZ, located in the city of Rio de Janeiro. Additionally, UNISDR has already mobilized Mr. David Stevens, Senior Programme Advisor, to coordinate and lead UNISDR’s support to this Centre.


About David Stevens

Citizen of Brazil and the United Kingdom, Stevens has been with the UN Secretariat since 1999. Before joining UNISDR and taking up his new responsibilities in Rio de Janeiro he was first with the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime, UNODC, and then with the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, UNOOSA, where he was responsible for implementing two global programmes.

As Programme Coordinator of UNOOSA’s UN-SPIDER Programme he was involved in supporting disaster risk reduction activities and emergency and humanitarian response actions in over 50 countries, working closely with National Disaster Management Organizations, NDMOs.

Prior to joining the UN he worked for the Inter-American Development Bank responsible for defining and implementing several projects in Latin America in the area of geospatial information and regional and environmental planning. His specific experience in Brazil includes leading the development of regional planning and environmental impact studies of major development projects.

Stevens has a BSc in Civil Engineering and an MSc in Environmental Planning, both from the University of São Paulo.