Emergencies and natural disasters or from anthropic origin could provoke the interruption of public institution and society operations, demonstrating the vulnerability of government operations, provision of essential public services (water, energy, communications) and protection of population in vulnerable situations. In this context, COVID-19 pandemic reinforced the need of improving strategic and operational plans to face potential catastrophic events of this kind.

In these circumstances, it is desirable that countries have public policies directed to address these adverse situations, securing the stability and continuation of public institutions and the provision of public services to affected population in vulnerable situation.

Social and economic costs of damages from natural disasters are usually a heavy burden for the economy of our countries. Social and economic development of our region could be hampered because of natural disasters, especially if countries do not adopt policies to mitigate their negative impacts. For this reason, the concepts of Continuity of Operations and Continuity of Government are outlined as useful public policies to mitigate the effects of risk situations.

The concept of Continuity of Government (COG) sets up protocols, procedures and legislation, which helps countries to secure their essential operations in circumstances of catastrophic events. On the other hand, Continuity of Operations (COOP) concept contributes to secure the functioning of public institutions and society before a crisis situation or facilitates the immediate restoration of substantial activities.

Experience shows that in the region of Latin American and Caribbean it is required to strengthen the protocols, procedures and legislation to secure the Continuity of Government in case of breakup of the command chain and governance, and the provision of essential public services. It is equally important to keep the cooperation and coordination among local institutions inside the country, and with neighbouring countries at the outside, in order to maintain the operation of governmental institutions, the support to private sector institutions, and the provision of public services to their citizens, especially health services.

Continuity of the Government concept emphasizes the importance of readiness and response before disasters, as rescue and salvage operations, and medical care of victims. At the same time, It is stressed the need of restoration of crucial and essential public services and the maintaining of public safety and order, for which it is decisive to have a basic level of continuity of operations and institutionality that allows the functioning of public and private organizations, in order to avoid the collapse of the State and its public institutions and to ensure that private sector can support and complement recovery actions.

These scenarios will demand the existence of protocols to make sure that officials and authorities are capable to assume their roles during the emergency and could anticipate alternative posts, endowment of equipment, and fast access to required communications and technology and the protection of vital governmental information.

Readiness of social protection institutions, and social security institutions too, before catastrophic situations, is imperative to guarantee a basic level of protection and welfare among the population. For this reason, plans and protocols of COG and COOP must include the social services and benefits institutions, in order to boost a fast economic and social recovery of a country affected by natural disasters.

The response to situations of emergency and disaster must be comprehensive. The process of planning, strategy and assistance requires strategies that facilitate and secure the operative and institutional continuity of social actors and institutions, in order to deal address the risks. These elements are expressed in protocols or operation plans. 

Elaboration of Protocols ensured that institutions are in capacity to identify their critical functions and essential tasks; that authorities and officials are capable to assume their roles during the emergency, and they know their interdependence with other organizations, especially from the private sector; and to define which positions will assume the authority delegated by the institution´s leadership, in order to address specific tasks.

Planning process ensures the functionality of a country, protects their economic stability and provides a comprehensive public safety level to the population. On the other hand, social protection tries to guarantee that population is able to satisfy its basic needs, through financial resources or specific services. The essential purpose of any social protection institution is to protect the population and to make secured and resilient communities, capable of deal, operate and recover from adverse situation, for which it is imperative the readiness of this key sector.

In conclusion, governmental institutions must maintain their response capacity before catastrophic situations. For this reason, it is imperative to establish public policies which include advance foresight and the reduction of elements of surprise on unfavourable incidents, mainly in social security and protection, which is closely linked to governments but to the private sectors too. The institutions will be better prepared to deal with disaster situations if they already count with programs and protocols.

Main objectives
  1. To exchange information and experiences on main protocols, legislations and new studies regarding Continuity of Government and Operations facing catastrophic events and in light of COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. To emphasize the importance of anticipating to risk situations and of acting in response, highlighting the concept of continuity during the preparations and implementation of protocols of action in emergency and disaster scenarios.
  3. To highlight that Continuity of Government and Operations plans require the participation of public and private institutions, which permanently interact while being on duty.
  4. To stress the relevance of implementing the concept of continuity in crisis situation, with complementary strategies, that facilitate and ensure operational and institutional continuity of social and political actors, in order to deal with risk circumstances.
Main topic

Panellists will analyze recent strategies regarding Continuity of Operations (COOP) and Continuity of Government (COG) in the region, directed to institutions to create readiness and response capacities, in order to mitigate the negative impacts of disasters and to ensure the continuity of operations.


Date: Tuesday, 18 May 2021
Time: 11:00am (UTC -4:00, Caracas)
Plataforma: Zoom


Opening session and welcome remarks

  • Javier Paulinich, Permanent Secretary of the Latin American and Caribbean Economic System (SELA) (3 minutes)
  • Professor Alvaro Velarca Hernández, Secretary-General of the Permanent Committee of the Inter-American Social Security Conference (CISS) (3 minutes)
  • Efraín Guadarrama Pérez, National Coordinator of Mexico to CELAC (3 minutes)
11:10 - 12:10

Panel presentations:

  • Claudia Herrera, Executive Secretary of the Coordination Centre for the of Disasters in Central America and the Dominican Republic (CEPREDENAC).
  • Colonel (R) Sergio Rico, National Emergency System (SINAE) Director, Office of the Presidency of Uruguay.
  • Elisa Trujillo, Director of the national network of the Private Sector Alliance for Disaster Resilient Societies (ARISE-México).
  • Nelson Hernández, Specialized Professional – Chief of Prospective Intervention and Financial Protection. Sub-Directorate for Risk Reduction. Pro-Tempore Presidency of CAPRADE held by Colombia.

Moderator: Ana Ramírez Cuevas, Director of the Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, Environment and Caribbean Sea of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS).

12:10- 12:30

Questions and answers

The host will collect questions from the participants through Zoom and Facebook Live chats, in order to solicit comments from the panellists.

12:30 - 12:40


The host will share the findings of the webinar and will proceed to the closing of the event.  


Ana Leticia Ramírez Cuevas holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Public Administration from the National Autonomous University of Mexico and a Master’s Degree in Applied Public Management from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education. She holds a Diploma in Public Health and Health Assistance in Disaster Cases from the National Institute of Public Health, as well as a Diploma in Personal and Professional Development from the Universidad Panamericana in Mexico.

She was part of the Alpine Search and Rescue Brigade Mexico, and for 18 years she collaborated in the National Centre for Disaster Prevention, an institution in which she held various positions: Deputy Director for National and International Affairs and Deputy Director for Institutional Linkage and Management.

As of 15 February 2021, she serves as Director of the Disaster Risk Reduction, Environment and Caribbean Sea Commission of the Association of Caribbean States, an international organization for consultation, coordination, cooperation and concerted action among the countries in the region.


Claudia Herrera Melgar

First woman in history to hold the position of Executive Secretary of the Coordination Centre for the Prevention of Disasters in Central America and the Dominican Republic (CEPREDENAC) since 1 January 2019.

A Central American citizen born in Honduras with a degree in Business Administration, she has 20 years of experience in comprehensive disaster risk management, a field in which she became involved after the occurrence of Hurricane Mitch in 1998.

At the regional level, she was part of the team responsible for harmonizing the Central American Policy on Comprehensive Disaster Risk Management with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, coordinating CEPREDENAC's participation with the Executive Committee of the Central American Integration System (SICA), government entities, national systems, international cooperation and strategic actors linked to disaster risk reduction until this was approved at the SICA Summit of Presidents and Heads of State in 2017.

She led the process for updating the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Plan 2019-2023.

Previously, she served in relevant positions at the international level, including Regional Advisor to the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and representative of European organizations, coordinating regional projects of the European Commission Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid (ECHO). She has led national spaces such as the Humanitarian Network in Honduras and the Act Alliance National Forum, which is made up of a Network of European Organizations with a humanitarian and social development mandate. She has also coordinated projects funded by the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), among others.



Sergio Rico Fernández

He is a Retired Colonel with a Master in Political Science from the University of the Republic of Uruguay. In addition, he holds a Degree in Military Sciences and a Diploma in Political Science. As a teacher, he leads the Chair of Prospects at the Centre for Higher National Studies (CALEN) in Uruguay. He is Professor of Strategic Prospective at the University of Business and Social Sciences (UCES) of Argentina. He serves as Coordinator of the International Security and Defence Committee of the Uruguayan Council for International Relations (CURI). He is a permanent member of the Committee on International Security and Defence of the Institute for International Relations (IRI) of the University of La Plata, Argentina.  In March 2020, he took over as National Director of the National Emergency System of the Presidency of the Republic. He also serves as Secretary of the National Board for Emergency and Risk Reduction in Uruguay. He received a diploma in Disaster Risk Reduction and Sustainable Local Development. International ILO ITC Course.



Nelson Hernández

He holds a Master in Agricultural Sciences from the University of Chile and a Specialization Degree in Disaster Prevention, Reduction and Care from the Catholic University of Manizales. He has more than 20 years of experience in disaster risk management. He was National Director of Risk Management of the Chilean Red Cross. Since 2012 it has been linked to Colombia's National Disaster Risk Management Unit, a national government body that coordinates the National Disaster Risk Management System. From that position, he has contributed to the promotion of risk reduction policies and publications on preparedness for response. As a result of his teaching career, he is a professor of the ‘Master's Degree in Risk Management and Development’ of the School of Military Engineers and the ‘Master's Degree in Planning and Management of Sustainable Territorial Habitat’ at the Universidad La Gran Colombia.


Elisa Mariel Trujillo Leyva.

A Mexican national, Elisa is an Architect specializing in Sustainable Architectural Design from the Monterrey Institute of Technology (Tec de Monterrey – Campus Monterrey), Master of Sciences in Infrastructure Planning from the University of Stuttgart (Universität Stuttgart – Germany) and has completed the Disaster Risk Reduction and Local Sustainable Development programme at the ILO (International Labour Organization - Italy). Elisa has collaborated with different international organizations in Mexico, Spain and Germany, serving as a consultant, research assistant, academic coordinator and teacher. She has also participated in multiple social projects for Mexico. She specializes in issues related to urban resilience and climate change, as well as their relationship to poverty eradication. Elisa has participated in different national networks concerning sustainable development and was an Observer of the Youth Assembly Delegates of Mexico to the United Nations. She currently serves as Corporate Advisor for Urban Resilience and Transformation in CEMEX's Social Impact team and Director of the national network ARISE MX.