CCEM Ricardo Mena Interview Transcript
[00:00:00] Kyle King: Welcome to the Crisis Conflict and Emergency Management podcast, where we have global conversations and share perspectives about international crisis preparedness and how to build more resilient societies. My name is Kyle, and I will be your host. And just how vulnerable are we to the changing international environment and what can we learn from this experience?
[00:00:18] From AI to space warfare, to community development and crisis communications. There's something here for everyone. Join us for unique international conversations and perspectives into the current threats, challenges, and risks to our society. This podcast is brought to you by Capacity Building International and sponsored by the International Emergency Management society.
[00:00:46] Ricardo, welcome to the show. Thanks for joining us today.
[00:00:49] Ricardo Mena: Thank you very much, Kyle.
[00:00:50] Kyle King: My pleasure. First, I think congratulations is an order. You have recently retired from the United Nations platform. Is that correct?
[00:01:00] Ricardo Mena: Yeah, that's correct. After 29 years of service in the UN, I decided to take retirement as I was already entitled to. So yeah, starting a new life.
[00:01:11] Kyle King: Well, congratulations. I'm sure you've seen quite a lot in those 29 years, especially in the field of Disaster Risk Reduction.
[00:01:18]And so I really wanted to bring you on to be able to talk about what are you seeing in terms of DRR over this, what's changed over the last few decades that you've been working on this topic and where do you think that we're going in terms of this overall risk reduction platform?
[00:01:34] So, I know that's a broad question, but let's draw down first on what sort of change, what sort of massive changes have you seen in the last 10 or 15 years?
[00:01:45] Ricardo Mena: Yeah. Well, I would say that the most important change I have seen is that the overall understanding of disaster management and risk reduction has been evolving and moving from something that was mainly focused on the hazards themselves into the other aspects of the risk formula, which are basically the vulnerability conditions of people living in exposed areas to different types of hazards.
[00:02:14] And little by little, this understanding has been sinking in and making the connections between the issues of vulnerability and exposure with the overall issue of sustainable development. And in a way, what we have come to realize is that most of the aspects that make people vulnerable to the impact of hazards is really linked very closely with the way in which development has been taking place.
[00:02:47] And if this development has not been risk informed, it has generated a big amount of risk that is manifested when the hazard actually occurs. So the understanding that the only way we can fix this is by really addressing the underlying drivers of risk and what needs to be done from the development side to ensure that societies are more resilient and not so exposed and vulnerable to the effects of the hazards. And this has gone over these past 30 years or so. First, the people engaged in disaster risk reduction and disaster risk management were mainly people from the engineering side and the experts in the hazards, the geologists, the volcanologists, the hydrometeorologists, etc.
[00:03:45] And then it started moving a bit into the sphere of the social sciences, and then all the people who study the way in which communities develop and in which governments actually do development started to engage. And that's when this change between the focus on the hazard and the focus on the vulnerability started to happen.
[00:04:11] And then of course, the development actors that were somehow more engaged with just the situation as it happened, started seeing that indeed it was very important how development was taking place in either creating new risks or reducing the possibility of impact in the future. So I would say that broadly speaking this has been a major shift in the way which we understand disaster risk.
[00:04:40] And of course we have had a lot of events that have been leading us in that way, which of course, climate change has been one because the increase in the frequency and intensity of the hazards has been going up and people have started realizing that in fact, "Oh wow, yeah. We should have had this in mind when we were first developing our cities or our activities and our balance with nature that we didn't and now we are paying the price."
[00:05:14] So this thing, and of course recently, in these past two years, the interconnection in which we currently live in our current society has made it manifest that something that happens very far away can actually have an impact on people that are absolutely disconnected from the event itself.
[00:05:36] So the pandemic was one virus that has created what we have already seen a worldwide impact with lots of losses and losses of life and economic impact. And also the event in Ukraine with the invasion from Russia that has had a great impact in many areas that could not have been potentially be anticipated.
[00:06:04] For example, the cost items and the problems with the supply chain and the inflation that is growing and still going up in many countries, many developed nations particularly. And issues with energy supply and so on and so forth. So almost everything is somehow connected, and this is what we need to also take stock of the fact that risk has to be looked at in a more comprehensive way.
[00:06:34] We cannot look at each hazard independently. But we have to see at the possibility of cascading effects and ripple effects that are caused by something that triggers other hazards and can have, of course, a greater impact on society. So it's quite exciting because the topic is still quite dynamic and also the risk is quite dynamic.
[00:07:00] And our risk profiles keep. I don't want to extend myself, but I think I highlighted some of the key issues of how this topic has evolved over the years.
[00:07:10] Kyle King: I think there's been a lot of change really, in perspectives and the people that are involved, the actors involved in the risk reduction space.
[00:07:19] When you first started in this type of career path or in this field, what were the topics that you were talking about then versus the topics that you were talking about today? Just as a simple example.
[00:07:30] Ricardo Mena: Yeah. When I just started, I started working in emergency preparedness program. So of course everything was focused on preparing to respond better. It was not so much about how can we reduce the risk so that the impact is not so big. It was just how to prepare better so that we can respond and alleviate suffering to people that have been affected? So that was the emphasis. So it was pretty much emergency management, preparedness, response, and the awareness raising in people to one hazard that they were exposed to.
[00:08:12] So it was very specific to either earthquakes, tsunami, volcanic eruptions, or tropical cyclones. It was very much hazard focus and pretty much dealing basically with the actions after the impact has already occurred. What I want to highlight is the fact that this keeps being very important because we still have been generating new risks and we are perhaps more exposed than in some places more vulnerable than ever.
[00:08:46] So the probability of governments and communities to respond to disasters keep being as important or more even as it was 30 years ago. But what we have also started looking at is the fact that really, if we want to solve the problem and make sustainable development really durable, then we need to focus more on that side of the equation. And we have to look at what are the land use planning policies and how is our engagement with nature being managed? How are we taking care of nature-based solutions to reduce disaster risk, for example. How are we taking care of nature and the ecosystem in general to avoid that as a factor that will even compound the risks to a greater extent.
[00:09:44] And also looking at all the actions that can be taken ex ante to make sure that the impact is not so great, including insurance of course, but also other financial mechanisms that can help improve the response at the same time that it will diminish the probability of impact. So all these forecast based financing, for example. And other approaches that have been developed over the past years are actually looking more at the preventive and the prospective views of, risk than in the past. And of course the issue has also become quite political because as we have seen in many countries, if governments do not handle well disaster response, then they may be held liable and they may lose the interest of their constituencies for their political party. And because of the increasing frequency and intensity of events, this is happening more frequently. So this is becoming indeed also an issue that has to be put on into the table from the political parties side to have this discussion and try to address it in a more effective way. The problem there is that investments in this in risk reduction are not visible immediately. It takes time. For example, if a mayor decides to increase the capacity of the water drainage system to cope with the increase of precipitation because of climate change. Well, first it's quite costly sometimes. And secondly, it's going to take years until the community looks at the benefits of that investment and then what it has brought. So politically, let's say the profitability of risk reduction is not so great as other things that are visibly more immediately.
[00:11:46] So we are somehow in that area now and we need to make sure that the long term view keeps being quite important for how our leaders and elected officials manage the tasks that they have. Thirty years ago, we were not speaking too much about the possibility of sea level rise because of climate change.
[00:12:16] I mean, 30, 40 years ago, even 50 years ago, this was quite something that was just being written by a few authors, but that was it. Now we are living it already and we are suffering from the consequences of it. And this is the way, you know, a good example to use to explain that this long-term view has to be factored in into all these,development processes and political processes because if we focus on the immediate gratification and all these investments that can show and reap some political benefit in the short term, then of course we are not addressing the risk issue in a comprehensive way.
[00:12:59] Kyle King: It's interesting that you have brought that sort of full spectrum in terms of the change and the perspective that's changed over the last 30 years. I am also quite curious about what the catalyst for change was for that? Because you've mentioned the development piece, the economic side, the political side as well. So what do you think has been the catalyst for some of this? Because it's also, as you've correctly stated, it's a shift from a more technical sphere with engineering to also a more risk management piece. So what do you think has been a catalyst for a lot of this change over the last few decades?
[00:13:40] Ricardo Mena: Yeah. Well, first I would say that the better understanding of risk has helped a lot in generating this change.
[00:13:47] But secondly, and also quite important, I think that the fact that every year, after year, after year, the resources that are needed to cope with the humanitarian emergencies is getting bigger and bigger and bigger. So, in the case of the United Nations, for example, there are humanitarian appeals and in the last years. They have been largely underfunded.And every year there is a request for more and more resources and we are already into the billions of dollars. Now with the recent emergencies including the war in Ukraine, this year hasn't been any different from others.
[00:14:35] And the pressure on the overseas development assistance and the humanitarian assistance is growing exponentially because more disasters happen, more people are affected, and more humanitarian funding is needed. And I think that that's another element that has acted as a catalyst in shifting this mind of sorting the problem once it happens. To trying to sort out the problem before it happens so that the needs on the humanitarian side are not so big.
[00:15:07] And this is another factor I think that has made a big change and it continues to do so, is the fact that disaster management was absolutely a topic that was the responsibility of the civil protection agencies or the emergency management agencies. And of course all the responders were engaged, the police, the firefighters, the military, etc, and the health sector, water and sanitation sector, etc. They were all involved, but from the emergency response perspective. But disaster risk reduction actually has to do with every single sector of a government's activities. So it has to do with financing as it has to do with culture and public works, housing and urban development, health, and really every sector is absolutely vital to reach this goal of reducing disaster risk and making it cross cutting across all these sector has been also a change that, I mean, it's just starting to happen. But in many countries it has already evolved a multi-sectoral approach towards risk reduction that helps a lot. And that has also been, I think, a catalyst in this change.
[00:16:32] And fourthly, I would say that the international community through the UN has also been doing a lot of effort to try to support governments and people better understand the issue through international agreements that have occurred in the past 3-4 decades. Starting with the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction, moving on to the Yokohama Plan of Action to reduce disaster risk, to the Hyogo Framework for Action, and finally, the Sendai Framework, which is the current international framework that member states of the United Nations have adopted to try to reduce disaster risk between 2015 to 2030. And this last international agreement, the Sendai Framework, is closely linked with the Sustainable Development Goals. It's closely linked with the Paris Agreement for Climate Change, and it's closely linked also with other international processes that are closely related with issues that are also quite interlinked with disaster risk reduction such as the Water Decades or the Convention of Biodiversity and The New Urban Agenda, and others that are absolutely intimately linked from the issue of disaster risk and cannot be separated or looked at in a siloed fashion.
[00:18:04] So this, I think, has also been an important catalyst, but definitely I would say that perhaps the most important catalyst has been the fact that disasters are happening more frequently and more intensely and in places where in the past they did not happen. So the amplification that climate change has brought to the disaster risk reduction agenda is very important and has been another catalyst for this.
[00:18:31] Kyle King: So then as we're looking into the future and we're starting to, say forecast, or discuss what we might see as future events in terms of disaster risk reduction field, if we have had so much sort of investment in the response side of the house, so to speak, and the recovery costs and rebuilding after disasters and they've come to be more frequent, more intensive and as you've correctly stated, amplified that exposure.
[00:18:59] Are we seeing the investment now move to the reduction side, to the mitigation side, to the prevention side? So are you starting to see a shift in funding so that we can reduce the overall impact of these disasters? Is that then ebb and flow of the funding that we're seeing? Or donations still have problems fulfilling the huge request for funding and then also now have to also invest in mitigation and risk reduction itself?
[00:19:26] Ricardo Mena: Unfortunately, the funding flows are absolutely not at the level that they should be. And we have data from my previous position with the UN. We have a very stark comparison between how much is being used for humanitarian assistance, for example, and what percentage of that is being used or allocated specifically to disaster risk reduction activities. And it's just tenths of a dollar for that purpose as compared to what is being invested in disaster response. Similarly, with what's invested in developed. Of course, as I was saying, many people are of the opinion that the funding for reducing disaster risk has to come from the development budgets, not from the humanitarian budgets, which I think is correct.
[00:20:25] However, I also think that you can also do risk reduction during the humanitarian response, and we have been working in the UN very closely with the office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs, for example, to make sure that all the humanitarian planning cycles do also incorporate risk reduction measures so that they do not contribute into generating more risk.
[00:20:53] One key example, I participated in many humanitarian operations as member of the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. And I can remember two cases at least when the decision was made to create a camp for people that had been affected and needed to move elsewhere. And we set up a camp in an area that happened to be a flood prone area. And this was not considered in the decision making process. So as soon as the rainy season started this refugee area started to get flooded. And then problem again, and you had to change the location. And then that of course requires investment and generates a lot of problem for the people affected. They got affected twice, not only once. And this was just one example. Another example is when we were responding to hurricane situations in Caribbean countries and we could immediately see that the roofs of homes that had not followed the building code for high winds were the ones being affected. The other ones were okay. And in the recovery phase, we were providing building material to replace the roofing and correct some minor damages. And with a simple explanation of how to fix the roofing into the structure, you could actually already contribute to reducing future risk. So it's very important that link is also made. But by and large, going back to the funding issue, we need to insist with governments and the international development assistance community to make sure that disaster risk reduction is actually funded in a more predictable and substantive way. And this we have been discussing also with the climate change community because now with the pledges of governments to provide billions of dollars in funding for adaptation, for example. Adaptation is just the other side of the coin of risk reduction because climate change is happening because mostly the intensification of hydrometeorological events that are related with excess of water or absence of water precipitation, then again, precipitation. So you're dealing either with very intense floods,flash floods. And you are also dealing with droughts and very intense droughts in some cases—it's disaster
[00:23:39] The only thing that we need to make sure now is that we incorporate climate change scenarios into the future planning so that we don't allow this, what I was mentioning, the creation of new risk by ignoring all these aspects. Of course, the risk financing has to also be tackled through the amounts of resources that are being put into climate change adaptation particularly. This is a very political issue, but actually, the COP27 is happening as we speak now in Sharm el-Cheikh in Egypt. And governments are discussing about the issue of loss and damage and adaptation. And these are becoming now the hot topics on the table. Of course, the mitigation aspects, meaning the reduction of greenhouse gases is very important and we need to try to continue towards avoiding more than a 1.5 centigrades increase in global temperature. But it's also very important that we take care of the issue of adaptation because if we don't, then the spiraling of disasters happening more frequently is going to go out of control. And that's why the climate financing has to also contribute to the risk reduction financing aspects.
[00:25:06] Kyle King: So then in the future, if we're seeing a move into adaptation, as you mentioned, it's just another sort of perspective on risk management, and that's where the money is flowing. Ultimately, who is gonna be responsible for integration of the risk reduction platforms with everything else that's going on, either the adaptation piece or the humanitarian response, who ultimately at the end of the day is going to be responsible for the integration of all these different perspectives?
[00:25:32] Your point is well taken in terms of delivering a humanitarian assistance. You're there to help and you put people in a higher risk area and then that disaster happens twice essentially, or they're affected twice in that population. You wanna prevent that. So who is ultimately going to be the authority that is responsible for the integration of those concepts?
[00:25:52] Ricardo Mena: Thanks for that question Kyle, because I think it's very important and it has to do with risk governance. And this is an area where government still have to work a lot because disaster management agencies that we discussed, are usually part of some ministries or governance structures that are different than, for example, the Environmental Secretariat or Ministry for the Environment, which falls under a different authority and they are usually not well connected. So sometimes the people dealing with disaster management and disaster risk reduction do not interact actively with people dealing with climate change and adaptation, that's a problem. And we have been emphasizing. These international agreements that I was referring to have been emphasizing on the need to strengthen disaster risk governance to make sure that there is an all of government approach towards risk reduction and to avoid this compartmentalized approach that actually doesn't lead to any positive result. Governments, of course, are responsible and they are recognized as the main responsible party for risk reduction, but actually they cannot do it alone. So they need civil society, the private sector, industries and commerces. They need an involvement and engagement of all the actors to make it really possible. Otherwise, governments by themselves, they don't have the means or the capacity to influence all actions of the different layers of society to actually reach this goal. And this is why we also promote, and I'm a strong believer in it, of this whole of society approach towards risk reduction.
[00:27:52] But this has to do, of course, with government leadership. And if there is a risk governance that is weak, underfunded, and lacks the technical capacity, then of course, you know the result is going to be quite evident that country or that city or area are going to be adversely affected by hazards in the future. In contrast, if this risk governance is structured at the highest level—[it] has this cross-sector responsibility and authority, is well funded and supported through legislation, then that community will be much more resilient and will achieve the sustainable development goals and will thrive much better off than the other one.
[00:28:45] As we say, it's all about risk governance. Of course, this is not an issue that is easily solved. It takes the involvement of the legislative, it takes the involvement of the communities and the private sector of course. It doesn't happen from night to day. It takes process. But if we don't start now, then we are just going to be delaying the process and kicking the bucket to somebody else. And then actually the most vulnerable population is the one that pays the highest price at the end of the day. And then we have to make sure that as the sustainable development goes, clearly say we have to avoid leaving anybody behind. And there are groups of population we know very well who they are and they are actually the ones that are being affected disproportionately. So that's why we have to also focus our attention more on those people as a priority.
[00:29:44] Kyle King: I've seen that as myself a few times in some of the international work that we've done, that there's often a correlation we could say, between the type of risk that you're facing and the naming of that risk, and then the department that it's has to handle it, right? And so if you have a climate risk that's going to the department for Environment or a Ministry of Environment and Planning. And so there's a sort of sometimes a correlation in the naming alone without the recognition that it's a lot more than just that. It's investment, it's regulatory issues, it's legal issues and frameworks, and even gets down into, like you said, the risk governance, but even sometimes even in the sort of the structures—the terms we use in the United States as far as municipal state and federal level responsibilities and overall governance structures and what those legal responsibilities are.
[00:30:37] Kyle King: And so it's far more complicated in terms of just asking somebody to fix something. It requires a systemic approach and a shift in the way that we're thinking about a lot of these things. So what are some of the ways that you've seen and have been,tools in the toolkit to try and get nations to recognize that we have to change our perspective to come up with a whole of government approach to these things to include civil society and private sector. What are some of the most effective tools that you've seen in your toolkit that you've used to be able to influence nations to go into a certain direction?
[00:31:11] Ricardo Mena: I would say that the most important tool to achieve risk reduction is to follow what the Sendai Framework is suggesting. This is a very comprehensive framework and it has already agreed on some global targets and for each one of the global targets there are a number of indicators that countries are following up on, and it has a number of guiding principles of how disaster risk reduction needs to be approached. That includes, by the way, also some human rights issues. It includes priority areas for action, and it describes what is the responsibility at the national level, the local level, and also the international level. And I think that in terms of having a good recipe to reduce disaster risk, the framework is the best we have. It talks about the "whole of society" engagement. It talks about the whole of government engagement, it talks about the most vulnerable. It has been, in a way each segment of the Sendai Framework has been further developed and unpacked to offer specific tools on, for example, how to develop strong national disaster risk reduction strategy or a local disaster risk reduction strategy, how to ensure engagement of the role of society, actors, etc. So I think that I couldn't think of any better tool kit than what the Sendai Framework offers and what it also offers from the risk reduction community in the sense of how to bring this theory into action. And for that we have websites like Prevention Web that have a load of, resource for people to look into. For example, even if you want to talk about risk financing, you can dive deeper into the issue. And if you are looking more into how to build back better or how to deal with the issue of resilient infrastructure and many, many topics, you can actually go and look at it and, and find a lot of resources that can be quite helpful. And we are at the midpoint of this Sendai Framework implementation because it was an agreement that was adopted in 2015 until 2030. So we are at the midpoint and there is going to be a very interesting exercise next year because the general assembly of the UN will have a high level meeting dedicated to the analysis of how well are we doing or not in terms of achieving the goals and the priorities for action of the Sendai Framework. So this will take place in May in New York, by the way, next year. So we have only six more months basically where the international community is going to be discussing about this issue. And it's interesting because it's also happening at the same time that there is a stock-take exercise for the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement of Climate Change. So politically speaking, in the international arena, there is going to be a lot of discussion about how to better address risk to try to reach the goals that were set by the Sendai Framework and the Sustainable Development Goals. So it's going to be quite interesting, and I will be, of course, following up very closely on how this evolves.
[00:34:59] And this, of course, the COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh as I was mentioning just a short while ago, is going to be also quite important because this agenda of adaptation, loss and damage and so on is going to be central on the discussions. And it's going to be a lot of fun to see what comes out of the May high-level meeting of the General Assembly because it's supposed to come up with a political declaration and I'm most set certain that it's going to come up with a call for stronger government engagement, funding, and prioritization of disaster risk if we really want to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
[00:35:47] Because if we keep with the trend that we are currently going, we will not be able to reach the sustainable development goals by and large, because of the impact that disasters have on countries that are trying to reach these goals. So this is my personal view on how things are going to evolve in the next months.
[00:36:08] Kyle King: If we're forecasting into the future and we're moving into this new phase, we've talked about the responsibility of nations to be able to have an integrated "whole of government" approach to these things, and that where you are behind in terms of implementing SDGs. What is the future hold then? What keeps you up at night in terms of disaster risk reduction and what you see if you were to have a chance to look into the future? What are some of the issues that you see that are coming up that we need to be aware of, or at least keep an eye on?
[00:36:43] Ricardo Mena: Unfortunately there are lots of things that could go wrong. And this is something that worries me and I think that worries many people around the world. I think that we live in an era of uncertainty. I think that if there is something that characterizes our time nowadays is uncertainty and we have uncertainty also in the area of risk. The risk landscape is changing so quickly and so dramatically that it is very difficult to even anticipate what may be the situation that we're going to be facing two years down the road. With the conflict in Ukraine, everybody start thinking about how that could potentially escalate into even a nuclear warfare and other sorts of ramifications of that. There are lots of concerns about the polarization that the world is also seeing currently with the US, China, and Europe being quite opposing in their views of how the global economy and the global order should follow.
[00:38:00] And that in itself can generate a lot of financial and economic challenges that may bring risks that we could not have thought of. So this is just a few to mention, but there could also have further ramifications of climate change as it keeps on not being aligned to these intention of limiting the increase in global temperature to the 1.5°C. And that can cause things that are related to biological hazards and also environmental hazards. This is another issue that I think is going to change a lot because most of the time emergency managers are more focusing on the natural hazards and the technological hazard. But not so much on the environmental and the biological hazards. And we could very well be facing similar pandemics as the one we had with Covid-19, which by the way, it's still ongoing. But we could fall into a another pandemic from a different type of virus in a short period of time after having gone through one of the wars in the past hundred years.
[00:39:21] So there are lots of uncertainties and we have to start shaping out the way in which we address risk. Also, taking into account the fact that we are living in an era of uncertainty and we have to start looking at the possible connections and the interaction of different hazards that can create situations that we have potentially not seen in the past, and that we have to be somehow thinking of them trying to anticipate so that the impact is not going to be so great. So it's a very challenging time. It's an uncertain time, and as I said the risk landscape is indeed changing very rapidly.
[00:40:04] Kyle King: I think that's absolutely correct. It is changing rapidly and we're also seeing concurrent and, I think you mentioned already, cascading effects between these different types of incidents that are occurring and, in my view, all sort of started with Japan and a tsunami and we started to come to a realization of the effects of cascading effects from an earthquake, to a tsunami, to a nuclear sort of issue coming up in emergency. And I don't know, and obviously I could be wrong, but I don't know that we're fully cognizant and aware and prepared for all of that to be occurring all at the same time, given the sort of lack of resilience in supply chains and infrastructure and everything else that we would need to be robust in order to be able to respond to systemic effects and shocks that happen consistently and even periodically throughout our daily lives.
[00:41:00] These are obviously political and strategic problems. But when we bring the conversation back down to the individual communities, the cities and people who may be emergency managers in their locale or in their town or city, or whatever the case is. What are some of the things that they should really be looking at today? That they should be looking for their communities? From the perspective of somebody like yourself who was working at the United Nations level on disaster risk reduction, what would somebody in their position should they focus on while others are handling these larger geopolitical and strategic issues?
[00:41:40] Ricardo Mena: First, fortunately at the strategic level, also things are happening. And for example, you now see that groups as the G20, the 20 most influential economies in the world are starting to deal with this issue. And they are actually in the upcoming meeting of the G20 in Indonesia. There is a proposal being tabled by India to establish a working group on risk reduction at the G20. So this keeps signs that even at this high political level and strategic level, these things are starting to be taken into account, which is great.
[00:42:19] But going to the community level, again, I think that the communities, what they should do is they should put some pressure on their elected officials so that the understanding of disaster risk is brought to a higher level. There are very few communities that have a multi-hazard risk assessment, for example. And that's where everything starts because in order to start taking action, you need to be sure of what are you working to change, avoid, or solve. So if you don't know that you are going to be obviously not going into the precise point you want to go. The approach towards risk reduction is also changing from the risk assessment side. And as I said, we have to move from a risk assessment that is focused on one hazard only, but look at the potential connections with other hazards. And when I was at UNDRR, we did develop a concept that is now being already operationalized, which presents the fact that you need to first have sufficient data related to the hazard, the vulnerability, and the exposure, and have that in a place which can be used by different potential sectors so that they can start thinking about how they could potentially be affected by these hazard and the combinations of hazards. And once they have that, which it's a good risk information portal, let's say, you can start looking at and having discussions, what we refer to the bespoke analytics. So engaging all actors of community and sectors to start discussing about how that specific hazard or combination of hazards can affect their wellbeing, their operations, or objectives. And this dialogue can bring some solutions that can be implemented to address the issues that have been identified as priorities for the community. Of course when you deal with these issues, you always have to prioritize because resources are finite and you cannot do everything you want to do because there aren't sufficient resources to do that. So you have to prioritize. But this prioritization effort has to be done also with the participation of all the sectors, because otherwise it can be biased, it can be sector specific, and that can potentially lead to ignoring some very important aspects that were not taken into account because sometimes you have even groupthink effects. But if you are just dealing with one specific sector, that sector is inherently biased and will not take into the views of others that can be equally important or even more important than that's being brought by this specific sector. So I think that's the way to tackling this issue. So we need to have civil society be a voice that triggers or elicits the action of elected officials into this issue and take it as a key priority for good governance and for building of resilience of communities.
[00:46:14] Kyle King: And I think that's an important point and a great point to end up on since we've got a little bit long here, but it's been really interesting conversation.
[00:46:22] And I think we can't discount the fact that in many nations, there's still a lot of issues behind interagency cooperation and communication and the fact that we divide a lot of these responsibilities. But we do need to pick up on the fact that this really does require a "whole of government" approach to respond to these multi-hazard, multi-domain sort of complex disasters and emergencies we're facing these days.
[00:46:47] And so at a community level, it's just that even just that engagement of, even though it might be health in one sector and response in another agency or department or whatever the case is. That communication and engagement, and I think you really hit on a point, which is civil society, even if you're making plans, socializing these plans, bringing it to the community and doing that, even though we may not like the feedback, right? And taking that criticism and moving forward with it and socializing these things so that the communities aren't individually aware.
[00:47:18] But Ricardo, thank you very much for being here today. It was a very interesting conversation, hearing your perspective, especially for someone that's worked so long in the United Nations and has been part of many of these important discussions over the last 30 years. I really do appreciate it. And if anybody wants to get in touch with you, what's the best way to find you?
[00:47:34] Ricardo Mena: I think that LinkedIn would be the best way, Kyle. And then I want to thank you also very much for this interview. I have also enjoyed it quite a lot and a pleasure and I hope that we'll have in the future, hopefully new opportunities to discuss about things that we discussed here, because many are going to be moving and evolving. From time to time, we can catch up.
[00:47:57] Kyle King: All right. Thank you very much and thanks once again for joining us.
[00:48:01] Ricardo Mena: Thank you, Kyle. Have a great day.