(from left) At the media workshop today in Mauritius, Mr. Ritvik Neerbijn, Mauritania Broadcasting Corporation, Mr. Jatin Dindoyal and Mr, Fabrice Chelman of Mauritius Government Information Services, and Ms. Slviane Velvendron, Radio Plus
By Denis McClean
PORT LOUIS, Mauritius, 21 November, 2016 - A packed agenda awaits participants at this week’s 6th Africa Regional Platform which opens tomorrow and will be followed on Friday by the 5th High Level Meeting on Disaster Risk Reduction which is expected to conclude with the adoption of a plan for implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction across Africa.
Some 800 people have registered to attend the three-day Regional Platform including 300 government representatives. It is the first opportunity for the region to meet since the Sendai Framework was adopted by UN Member States as the global plan for reducing disaster losses in March 2015.
In a pre-Platform briefing to the media today, the head of the UNISDR Regional Office for Africa, Mr. Amjad Abbashar, said the meeting would set the direction for disaster risk management across the region for the remaining years of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.
The Regional Platform is expected to hear of commitments to substantially increase the number of countries with national disaster loss databases, currently standing at 18. This is vital to the region’s efforts to meet the key 2020 Sendai Framework deadline for a substantial increase in the number of national and local strategies for the reduction of disaster losses benchmarked against losses over previous years.
Full scale monitoring of the world’s global plan for reducing disaster losses will get underway in 2020 and best estimates indicate that just half of 193 UN Member States have half of the data required to start effectively measuring and monitoring their progress in meeting the seven global targets of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.
Key targets include reducing disaster mortality, the numbers of people affected by disasters, economic losses and damage to critical infrastructure.
Africa is the only region which is specifically mentioned in the Sendai Framework as meriting “special attention” and much of this is due to the impact that climate change is having across the region particularly in terms of the widespread impacts of drought as desertification continues to spread across many landlocked drylands at the heart of the continent.
In the pre-Platform build-up, the leading conservation group, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) convened a two day workshop to look at the role of eco-systems in disaster risk reduction.
IUCN brought together representatives from the Ministries of Environment and Disaster Management of at least 18 African countries, scientists and practitioners, and the meeting provided a discussion platform for participants to share their experiences with nature as a solution for Disaster Risk Reduction, identify opportunities and needs to scale-up the approach.
Together the participants agreed that Eco-DRR is a necessary approach for risk reduction and the importance of strengthening national and local capacities for risk and vulnerability assessments that recognise the importance of ecosystems was highlighted.
At the same there was a briefing on disaster risk reduction for journalists led by DIRAJ, Disaster Risk Reduction Network of African Journalists, led by DIRAJ Secretary-General, Mr. David Owino, who said he hoped that a chapter of DIRAJ would be established in Mauritius.
Journalists attending the Regional Platform are due to issue their own statement of commitment to supporting the implementation of the Sendai Framework which recognises them as an important stakeholder group.
The official opening tomorrow afternoon will be preceded by a wide range of consultations among Africa’s Regional Economic Communities, parliamentarians, local authorities, NGOs, the private sector, women, science and technology, children and youth, and media.