India donates US$1 million to the UNISDR Trust Fund (left to right) Mr. Hansraj Ganagaram Ahir, Minister of State, Mr. Robert Glasser, UNISDR Chief, and Mr. Rajnath Singh, Home Minister (Photo: Tejas Patnaik/UNISDR)
By Denis McClean
NEW DELHI, 5 November 2016 - The Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction was hailed by the Indian Home Minister, Mr. Rajnath Singh, as “a landmark event” as it concluded today with adoption of a clear regional plan to substantially reduce disaster losses by 2030.
Mr. Singh said the Asia Regional Plan for Implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction would boost national and local efforts to reduce disaster losses and increase regional cooperation on disaster risk management as advocated by the Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi, when he inaugurated the conference two days ago.
The Minister also announced a donation of US$1 million to the UNISDR Trust Fund and made a presentation to the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, Mr. Robert Glasser who is also head of UNISDR.
Some 4,500 people participated in the three-day conference including 30 government Ministers and representatives from 51 countries. There were 29 Ministerial statements.
The Deputy Prime Minister of Mongolia, Mr. Khurelsukh Ukhnaa, addressed the closing session to announce that the next conference would be hosted in Ulaanbator in 2018.
Mr. Luis Felipe Puente, National Coordinator of Civil Protection of Mexico, assured participants that there would be a warm welcome for them at the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in May 2017.
He said the risk profile of Mexico was similar to Asia with exposure to a range of hazards including an average of 24 hurricanes each year, five tectonic plates and 16 active volcanoes.
The UN Secretary General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, Mr. Robert Glasser, in his address to the closing ceremony said the outcome showed that Prime Minister Modi’s opening day call to “wholeheartedly embrace the spirit of Sendai had not fallen on deaf ears.”
He said that spirit was evident through the three outcome documents of the conference: The Asia Regional Plan for Implementation of the Sendai Framework, the Delhi Declaration that reiterates the commitment of governments to disaster risk reduction; and the stakeholder Action Statements containing various initiatives to reduce disaster risk.
“The milestones until 2030 are clear; from the early establishment of national disaster loss data bases to achievements in the reduction of mortality, numbers of people affected, economic losses and damage to critical infrastructure,” he said.
He noted that there had been constructive discussion around the challenges of getting full monitoring of the implementation of the Sendai Framework underway by 2020 but the adoption of the regional dispatched any doubts.
He also noted that coherence between disaster risk reduction, the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement was a strong theme running through the conference.
Ministers and Heads of Delegation at the conference issued the Delhi Declaration which calls on all governments and stakeholders to “Pursue with a sense of urgency the paradigm shift from disaster management to disaster risk reduction” and to “ensure that policies and practices reflect an understanding of disaster risk.”
They also backed the collection and sharing of risk information; the strengthening of national and local governance of disaster risk reduction and increased investment in disaster risk reduction for resilience including in multihazard early warning systems and dissemination channels; contingency planning that engages all people to further strengthen disaster preparedness.
Special mention is made of encouraging meaningful participation of women, children and youth, and persons with disabilities in leadership role for disaster risk reduction.
Dr. P.K. Mishra, Additional Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, commented that trend is not destiny and that disaster losses can be reduced with concerted action. India was very pleased with the Asian regional plan as it provides a sense of urgency and specific milestones to 2030.
Along with broad policy direction, it includes a 15 year road map for implementation of the seven global targets and a two year action plan with specific activities.
For this year, specifics include translation of the essence of the Sendai Framework in national languages to increase awareness; all countries have identified their Sendai Framework focal point; and 20% of countries take stock of their current status of disaster risk reduction.
By 2018, 50% of countries will have reviewed their initial progress in implementation of the Sendai Framework through the Sendai Monitor and 50% will have prepared “a design to establish a national mechanism to collect, analyse and disseminate information on disaster losses.”
The plan ultimately envisages that by 2030, the lifetime of the Sendai Framework, all countries have demonstrated reduction in disaster-related mortality, affected population, economic losses and damages to critical infrastructure and basic services.