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Working on the next global blueprint for action: The Third UN World Conference on DRR 

Paola Albrito looks forward to the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai City, Japan, which takes place in March this year providing her thoughts on the Zero Draft document that has been issued ahead of this year’s event

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In 2015, several thousand participants are expected to meet for the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai City, Japan. Participants at the Conference, which runs from March 14 – 18, will see the adoption of the ‘Post-2015 Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction’.

This global blueprint will build on the previous internationally agreed frameworks, as well as acknowledge the need to continue embracing the activities of the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters (HFA). It will also drive the agenda of disaster resilience for the coming years.

The consultation process for the preparation of the Post-2015 Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, in line with the General Assembly Resolution 68/211, opened in March 2012 and involved a variety of forums, including relevant existing international meetings, dedicated events, global and regional platforms for disaster risk reduction, meeting of intergovernmental organisations, national level dialogues, stakeholder meetings and input from other social networks.

As part of the process two Preparatory Committee meetings were scheduled. The first one took place on July 14 – 15, 2015, and saw the discussion around a ‘Pre-Zero Draft’ of the framework. The second Preparatory Committee session on November 17 – 18, negotiated the Zero Draft document circulated on October 20 by Finland and Thailand, co-chairs of the Preparatory Committee.

Looking at the implementation of the HFA and the existing challenges, there are a number of considerations that have emerged as guiding the Zero Draft document. The underlying risk drivers, which at present are not sufficiently addressed, need to be fully understood and dealt with. National mechanisms, such as efficient National Platforms for disaster risk reduction, can play a relevant role in enabling joint and partnership actions towards reducing risk and exposure.

The systematic data collection of disaster losses has to be a basic requirement in order to develop consciousness on the effect of disasters and to understand the impact of extensive risk on sound cost-benefit analysis and informed choice. Risk assessments will require a combination of new technology and a scientific approach towards assessing and gaining knowledge on risk by citizens.

The private sector is learning from its losses and needs to advance its engagement towards disaster risk management through sound risk information and investment plans, and by properly reflecting disaster costs into their business balances. The speed with which the private sector is able to identify disaster risk management as a tool to promote more robust business health, along with its ability to develop strong partnerships with the public sector, will strongly affect the capacity of countries to manage disaster risks.

The long-discussed convergent climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction agenda can become a reality by focusing on climate risk, and therefore on measures and decisions to promote climate resilience. These elements will contribute towards increased accountability and responsibility for risk construction. They will also make it clear that disaster risk management is a key element of development benefits. Any forward-looking new international framework needs to reflect these considerations. They will, in turn, prove the comprehensive and deep societal connection to risk management and move towards the understanding that risk governance cannot be a governmental responsibility alone, and has resonance for communities and society at large.

The international community is currently responsible for preparing the Post-2015 Development Goals, the Post-2015 Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference towards a legally binding and universal agreement on climate. These frameworks are all addressing sustainable development. The way in which they are able to recall and build on each other will determine the speed of progress towards the understanding and practice of risk-sustained decision-making.


Paola Albrito is the Head of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) Regional Office for Europe and a Member of CRJ’s Editorial Advisory Panel

This article first appeared in CRJ 10:2, published December 2014 

Paola Albrito, 02/01/2015
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