Communities show way to resilience

Erling Kvernevik, Senior Advisor at the Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection speaking today at the First Preparatory Committee Meeting for the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction.
 
By Andy McElroy

GENEVA, 15 July 2014 – Local communities are already leading the way in adopting a holistic approach to development, the Preparatory Committee of the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction heard today.

Mr. Erling Kvernevik, Senior Advisor at the Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection, said a quick look at what is happening day-in day-out in communities around the world, offers a good guide to international policymakers striving to forge a more coherent international development agenda.

“I believe coherence at the local level is the most important, and maybe the easiest of all processes. Local communities might use different words than we do for ‘sustainability’, ‘risk reduction’ and ‘climate change’ but they assess their risks in a comprehensive and holistic way and often have to make trade-offs between development and risk,” Mr. Kvernevik said.

Mr. Kvernevik said it was a challenge for institutions at all levels to follow such a good example: “Even in Norway, a relatively well-organized society, it is challenging to work coherently at the national and sub-national level. We have a strong tradition for ministerial responsibility and accountability, which sometimes hampers the work on crosscutting issues such as DRR.”

Legislation requires all Norwegian municipalities to carry out an overall risk and vulnerability analysis to identify the types of hazards and threats that may arise, including impacts of climate change. This must be followed up by preparation of an overall emergency plan for the municipality.

“The latest survey found that almost 85% of our 428 municipalities had finalised such holistic risk and vulnerability analyses, which is impressive. But when we looked at it in more depth only one in three had the quality we expected. Much of the reason why was related to the assessment of future risk, including climate change impact,” Mr. Kvernevik said.

However, the development and use of national risk assessment has emerged as an important vehicle to improve coherence.

“The work on this has created a common understanding of the risks in our society, based on 17 possible scenarios that might affect us. The national platform is also an important tool for improving coherence, bridging gaps between sectors and interest by being focused on hazard and resilience,” Mr. Kvernevik said.

“The national platforms should have a prominent role in HFA2. The regional platforms are also important for sharing of knowledge.”

The Acting Director of the Centre for Pastoral and Livestock Development of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Dr. Solomon Muchina Munyua said progress was being made in adopting more inclusive and coherent approaches but challenged development partners to be more flexible.

“We have had the experience of five different development partners insisting that we use five different monitoring and evaluation systems and it is a nightmare,” Dr Munyua.

Three landmark agreements sharing a common aim to make development sustainable are set to be adopted next year: a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction; the Sustainable Development Goals; and the 21st Session of the Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Mr. Kvernevik and Dr. Munyua were speaking at the ‘Mutual Reinforcement of DRR, SDGs and Climate Change’ forum, chaired by H.E. Ambassador Mr. Walid Abdelnasser, Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Egypt.

“The principle of ensuring coherence between all post-2015 policy instruments has broad support, and the discussion went one step further and focused on how this can be achieved both through substantive alignment among the instruments and well-coordinated implementation and monitoring mechanisms,” H.E. Ambassador Abdelnasser concluded.

More than 250 representatives, including ministers, ambassadors, various other senior government officials as well as representatives from the private sector, science, and several sectors of civil society, attended.

The first session of the Preparatory Committee of the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction is being held over two days to review the organizational and substantive preparations for the Conference, approve the programme of work of the Conference, and propose rules of procedure for adoption by the Conference.

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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