Leadership focus: The consultation stressed the importance of political will for successful disaster risk reduction.
By Berta Acero
CAIRO, 27 November 2013 –
A major Arab regional consultation on the post-2015 international framework for disaster risk reduction has pinpointed governance and accountability and better local and national coordination as the key issues to strengthen.
The League of Arab States hosted representatives from governments, specialized organizations, UN and international partners and civil society representatives as they developed a unified regional position on priorities.
The new agreement is expected to be adopted at the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan, in March 2015 as a successor to the current Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015.
The consultation in the Egyptian capital builds upon the outcomes of the first Arab Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Aqaba, Jordan, in March 2013. Similar forums around the world will shape priorities for disaster risk reduction beyond 2015.
The forum, in particular, called for the strengthening of risk reduction capacity locally. It also identified the need for: a regional fund for disaster risk reduction; periodic national and regional forums to act as coordinating mechanisms; engaging local governments and municipalities in building resilience at local level; and ensuring that high level strategies and policies become reality via day-to-day actions.
Drought and water scarcity were highlighted as challenges that are set to worsen with the impact of climate change.
“The post-2015 Hyogo Framework for Action should leave no one behind and should pay due attention to all,” said Ms. Fatma El Malah, member of the Advisory Group on Post-2015 HFA and former advisor to the League of Arab States Secretary-General on Climate Change.
“This includes the dry areas that cover 40 percent of the Earth's total land area and which are home to over 2 billion people or 30 percent of the world’s population, the majority of which is located in the developing world.”
The consultation also stressed the importance of political will as critical for successful disaster risk reduction efforts in the region.
“Declarations of adherence to the post-2015 Framework for DRR and its objectives do not necessarily translate into implementation. At the forefront there should be a high level of political commitment, will and support. Disaster risk management also needs to be seen as part of the normal business of every stakeholder,” said Ms. El Malah.
The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) Regional Office for Arab States has launched a series of consultations since 2012 to engage various stakeholders on their priorities for the post-2015 framework.
Two national consultations have been held, first in Lebanon in June 2012, and then in Algeria, in February 2013. Representatives of Arab civil protection authorities and mayors provided further input during a meeting of Mediterranean countries in Lisbon, in October 2012. More recently, 11 international UN agencies and organizations provided input in Cairo, in October 2013.
The two-day regional workshop at the League of Arab States also reviewed implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action. Significant progress has been made but critical challenges remain, such as the current political situation and tight budgeting, among others.
“There is a need to provide a momentum for Arab states to move beyond their progress level 3,” said Dr. Fadi Hamdan, a DRR expert. (Note: progress against each core indicator is scored on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 representing ‘minor’ achievement and 5 indicating ‘comprehensive’ achievement).
“This means that there is an institutional commitment but with no substantial or comprehensive achievements. One reason for the stagnation around progress level 3 may be due to the compartmentalized approach to disaster risk reduction that many states pursue; an additional reason may be lack of sufficient linkages with development plans and programmes.”
The regional consultation was organized by UNISDR in collaboration with the Arab League Department of Environment, Housing, Water resources and Sustainable Development, the Arab League Crisis department, and UNDP Regional Centre for Arab States.