UK completes first-ever HFA peer review

 
By Denis McClean

DUBROVNIK, 3 October 2012 - Details of the first-ever peer review of a country implementing the world's first agreement on disaster risk reduction, the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA), were presented today on the final day of the European Forum on Disaster Risk Reduction in Croatia.

The UK volunteered to participate in the HFA Peer Review a year ago and the seven member review team from Sweden, Finland, Italy, UNISDR, the European Commission and OECD carried out the peer review mission from September 16 to 26, interviewing some 90 people including representatives from 45 entities including government departments, NGOs and businesses across the UK.

Steven Barnes, representing the UK Civil Contingencies Secretariat, said: "There is no doubt that the peer review has considerably raised the profile of the Hyogo Framework for Action at Ministerial level and among senior civil servants. Everyone was impressed with the quality of the team, their professionalism and commitment."

He expects that the final report will influence the debate on any new monitoring tool which might accompany the expected introduction of a new post-HFA agreement on disaster risk reduction in 2015.

Mr. Barnes said he would highly recommend the process to others but there were lessons to be learned on how to make the process less onerous and time-consuming.

Team member Taito Vainio, a Senior Officer, Ministry of the Interior, Finland, presented some of the initial findings and impressions of the team.

It was his personal view that the introduction in the UK of the Civil Contingencies Act in 2005 was a turning point in creating a framework for disaster risk reduction as it helped to set out clear obligations at local level and introduced a clear vision of the risks. It also saw the introduction of local resilience forums throughout the UK which included all groups with a stake in disaster risk reduction.

Mr. Vainio also identified several areas of good practice which the peer review had encountered including the office of the Chief Scientific Adviser which allowed a strong link between science and government; well-attended bi-monthly meetings of the Natural Hazard Partnership; the Flood Forecasting Centre which brought meteorology and hydrology together; and a strong focus on business continuity.

"This process is a very good way to promote the HFA and disaster risk reduction in the country that is being reviewed. The peer review is a chance and not a threat. I hope that these peer reviews will be continued and that more countries will volunteer to be reviewed," he said.

Yordanka Micheva, representing the European Commission (Directorate General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection), said: "The European Commission has a strong commitment to the implementation of the HFA in Europe and its five priority actions are an important part of our policy in promoting risk management and building resilience to disasters in the EU Member States.

"The final report will feed into the discussion on the post-HFA framework and our ongoing work at EU level on developing standards and good practices in disaster prevention and further steering risk assessments and risk management planning in the Member States.

"This was a pilot mission, the first peer review. We have many ideas and lessons learned on how to improve the methodology for other countries willing to participate in the future. At a later stage, we could envisage enlarging the geographical scope and allowing inter-regional exchange of experience. We should keep a flexible approach to the needs of the countries and perhaps focus on specific priorities in the countries under review."

Ms. Paola Albrito, Head of UNISDR Europe, said: "This has been a very positive experience for all involved. It will also enrich the consultations now taking place on a new international agreement on disaster risk reduction which will be introduced in 2015. It has also built confidence and solidarity on disaster resilience in Europe."

Driven by a Secretariat composed of the European Commission, UNISDR and OECD, work started to prepare the mission and to develop an appropriate peer review methodology after the UK first volunteered to undertake this process at the 2nd European Forum for Disaster Risk Reduction in Skopje in 2011.

The review was financed by the European Commission and the final report will be available early in 2013. It will be presented at the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in May, 2013 as well as at a number of EU fora.

The 3rd annual meeting of the European Forum on Disaster Risk Reduction is being attended by 27 countries and closes today.
The Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction will take place in 2015 The Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction will take place in 2015.
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