Featured member: Interview with Sussana Urbano - RET International

Sussana Urbano during her activities RET International

Sussana Urbano is the Regional DRR Coordinator of RET International for the LAC region. She tells us more on her activities and the crucial role RET international is playing in promoting an inclusive sustainable development.

Interview by Nisma Le Boul| London, June 20th

What does your organisation do?

RET International is committed as an organization to supporting communities to meet the educational needs, in the broadest sense, of young people and women in conditions of vulnerability to displacement, violence, armed conflict and disasters. We believe in the potential of youth and women, as allies and leaders, to become pillars for their families, agents of positive social change and key actors for resilience. We seek to promote the conditions for their protection and offer tools to develop life skills.

I am working in the Latin America and Caribbean region as Disaster Risk Reduction Regional Coordinator to empower young people and strengthen their capacities to reduce their vulnerability to disasters, as well as to build advocacy processes for the achievement of spaces for participation and inclusion of the most vulnerable people in disaster risk management.

How would you describe its role as part of civil-society?

RET has a leadership and implementation role within civil society. We have diverse programmes that promote a holistic approach that includes youth and women at all levels.

Our action is aimed at promoting the reduction of vulnerabilities in a comprehensive way, improving people's quality of life by addressing social, psychosocial and livelihood issues. We use education as a bridge within the framework of a rights-based approach.
In designing our proposals, we consider people as participants in processes and not as beneficiaries, and we see ourselves as facilitators of dialogue and exchange between people and institutions or governments, contributing to capacity-building among both sets of actors.

What is your role, what does it entail?

As Disaster Risk Reduction Regional Coordinator for RET, I have the opportunity to work on two important levels. On the one hand, I work at the regional level in partnership with various networks, including GNDR, to promote the increasingly important role that local communities, especially youth and women, must play in designing more effective national and regional DRR strategies.

On the other hand, I work to enhance community capacities through the joint projects we develop with our national offices. Setting foot in the field allows me to listen to the concerns of local communities when it comes to their resilience and development and to raise them at the regional and global level.

When did your organisation join GNDR? 

RET International joined GNDR in 2013 to keep up with international political dialogues. We started to be proactive in 2016 after our first participation in the World Summit in Bangkok, Thailand. We actively participate in the activities of GNDR: we are implementing partners of two GNDR projects, while I am a member of the GNDR Regional Advisory Group for LAC and participate in all regional activities.

Why did you join GNDR?

We joined GNDR as we always viewed its network as an active global “movement”, advocating for local communities through initiatives implemented worldwide by and for the people at the frontline. At first it was an opportunity for us to observe international policy dialogues but we gradually became heavily involved in GNDR activities in the LAC region. This will hopefully extend soon to other regions.

Consider 3 benefits for your organisation of being a GNDR member.

  1. The solidarity that GNDR represents. As the motto says, we are all “Stronger Together.”
  2. The opportunity to share knowledge, best practices and experiences plays a major role in our involvement. Getting knowledge from across the globe is invaluable.
  3. A wider vision of what is happening at global level as GNDR participates in all international policy-making frameworks.

Name one area of improvement for GNDR.

GNDR has to pursue a continuous dialogue locally and regionally and also ensure the participation of the regions in decision-making.

Some improvements in terms of regional governance can already be seen with the establishment of the Regional Advisory Groups (RAGs) and the development of the forthcoming "Community Platform" which will improve exchanges between members, but also with the GNDR Secretariat, provided that it ensures accessibility to all its members.

What are your biggest achievements as an organisation?

At RET International, we are particularly proud of our comprehensive programmes. We closely monitor the sustainability of each project through key performance indicators that measure the improvement of participants' quality of life.

Has your organisation received any awards?

In DRR: not yet.

What should GNDR do to sustain or increase members' engagement or participation?

I suggest GNDR focuses on even more local activities and an improved integration of regional activities. I think that more promotion and visibility has to be given to the regions. GNDR should increase exchanges and discussions at local and regional level.

If you wish to learn more about DRR at RET International, feel free to get in touch with Sussana Urbano, Regional DRR Coordinator at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or if you would like more information on the global operations of RET, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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