Revised HFA stresses political leadership

UNISDR Head Margareta Wahlstrom (centre) sharing a light-hearted moment on International Day for Disaster Reduction with the Co-Chairs of the Preparatory Committee for the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, Ambassador Thani Thongphakdi, Thailand, and Ambassador Päivi Kairamo, Finland. (Photo: UNISDR)
 
By Denis McClean

GENEVA, 21 October 2014 - The Zero Draft of the post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction was published and circulated widely today. It is an early draft of the final document which will be adopted at the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan, next March.

The document prepared by the co-Chairs of the Conference’s Preparatory Committee, Ambassador Päivi Kairamo, Finland, and Ambassador Thani Thongphakdi, Thailand, seeks a substantial reduction of disaster losses, in lives, and in the social, economic and environmental assets of persons, communities and countries.

It responds to the UN General Assembly’s request for “a concise, focused, forward-looking and action-oriented outcome document” from the World Conference. The Zero Draft builds substantively on the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) and aims to provide a single reference document to policy makers and practitioners.

The Zero Draft stresses the importance of political leadership “at every level in every country” in the overall efforts to prevent disaster risk creation and to reduce existing levels of disaster risk through economic, social, cultural and environmental measures which address exposure and vulnerability, and thus strengthen resilience.

Ambassador Kairamo noted that “a proposed new feature of the Post-2015 framework is the inclusion of global targets to measure achievement. This is something which many stakeholders have pressed for. We have also included principles to guide action such as that reducing disaster risk is primarily a state responsibility and managing disaster risk must be consistent with respect for human rights.”

Ambassador Thongphakdi commented on the need for coherence across the post-2015 development agenda. “The Zero Draft recognizes the need for a more people-centred approach to disaster risk. There needs to be more accountability for risk creation. Above all we recognize the fact that we have been presented with a unique opportunity to ensure coherence across the concurrent post-2015 processes on sustainable development, climate change and disaster risk,” he said.

The documents outlines four priorities for action: understanding disaster risk; strengthening governance and institutions to manage disaster risk; enhancing economic, social, cultural, and environmental resilience; and, investing in preparedness for recovery and reconstruction.

Understanding risk requires an all-state and all-stakeholder effort in areas such as collection, analysis and dissemination of information and data, advancement of research, and the development and sharing of open-source risk models, as well as continuous monitoring and exchange of practices and learning.

Governance conditions the effective and efficient management of disaster risk at all levels. Clear vision, planning, guidance and coordination across sectors and the participation of all stakeholders are required.

Investing in prevention and reduction through structural and non-structural measures is essential to enhance the economic, social, cultural resilience of persons, communities, countries and their assets as well as the environment. Such measures are cost-effective and instrumental in saving lives, preventing and reducing losses.

The zero draft also states that a continued integrated focus on key development areas, such as health, education, agriculture, water, ecosystem management, housing, cultural heritage, public awareness, financial and risk transfer mechanisms, is required.

The steady growth of disaster risk, including the increase of people and assets’ exposure, combined with the learning from past disasters, indicate the need to further strengthen preparedness for response at all levels. Disasters have demonstrated that the recovery and reconstruction phase needs to be planned ahead of the disaster and is critical to building back better and making nations and communities more resilient to disasters.

Business, professional associations, private sector financial institutions, and philanthropic foundations are encouraged to actively engage with the public sector for the development of laws, policies and plans to manage disaster risk; to base investment decisions on risk considerations; to integrate disaster risk management, including business continuity, in business models and practices, and engage in awareness-raising, training, and communication for employees.

Academia and research are encouraged to: focus on the evolving nature of risk and scenarios in the medium and long terms; increase research for local application and support to local communities and authorities’ action; and support the interface between policy and science for effective decision-making.

Social groups, volunteers, and civil society and faith-based organizations, are encouraged to engage with public institutions and business and, among other things, to advocate for inclusive and all-of-society disaster risk management which strengthens collaboration across groups.

Special attention should be given to inclusion and empowerment of children and youth, women, persons with disabilities, older persons and indigenous peoples; all groups which have an unique perspective on disaster risk management.

Developing countries, in particular least developed countries, small island developing States, and landlocked developing countries, and Africa, require adequate, sustainable and coordinated international assistance. This should include both financial and technical assistance and technology transfer on mutually agreed terms.

The full document is now available on www.wcdrr.org and will be discussed at the Second Session of the Preparatory Committee for the World Conference in Geneva, November 17-18.
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