The UN General Assembly resolution marks a key step for assessing losses in disasters and progress in reducing their impacts (Photo: Japan Red Cross Society)
By Denis McClean
GENEVA, 3 February 2017 - There was resounding support yesterday in the UN General Assembly for a resolution which saw indicators adopted for measuring global progress on reducing disaster losses and a revision of terminology related to disaster risk reduction.
The resolution was co-sponsored by 61 UN Member States almost two years after the adoption of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, at a World Conference in Sendai, Japan, and the indicators are designed to aid measurement of progress in achieving the Sendai Framework’s seven targets.
The resolution was adopted as countries and civil society organisations prepare for the 2017 Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction which will take place in Mexico from May 22-26.
The adoption of the indicators gives a significant boost to efforts to meet the first deadline under the Sendai Framework which is to have a substantial increase in the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies in place by 2020.
Ambassador Cristián Barros Melet of Chile introduced the draft resolution and said it was “the result of a lengthy process of negotiations that began in March 2015 and concludes today, with the adoption of indicators and terminology related to disaster risk reduction.
“However, the work does not end here, we could say that it just begins. The implementation of the indicators included in this resolution is the next step. These indicators will enable us to effectively measure the seven targets of the Sendai Framework, which, in consistency with the indicators of the 2030 Agenda, seek the development of policies that foster resilience and cooperation among nations and all stakeholders.”
Welcoming the resolution’s adoption, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, Mr. Robert Glasser, said: “This is a major achievement and a vote by UN Member States for accountability when it comes to taking action to reduce loss of life and economic losses, in the face of deadly climate change, risk-laden investment in infrastructure, poorly planned expansion of cities and towns, poverty, and continuing environmental decline.”
UN Member States that adopted the Sendai Framework in 2015 will now be able to measure their efforts to reduce disaster losses by 2030, including mortality, numbers of people affected, economic losses and damage to critical infrastructure such as water, transportation, telecommunications, schools and hospitals.
They will also seek to measure increases in international cooperation, national and local disaster risk reduction strategies and early warning systems.
“The adoption of these indicators covering the Sendai Framework targets is a first for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It will greatly encourage everyone planning to attend the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Mexico this May to move ahead and adopt strong measures to invest in resilience and disaster prevention,” said Mr. Glasser.
Yesterday’s move was the culmination of work which got underway following another resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly in June 2015, which established an open-ended expert working group comprising experts nominated by States and supported by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction with the involvement of relevant stakeholders.
In addition to the indicators, the General Assembly decided that the working group should consider the recommendations of UNISDR’s Science and Technical Advisory Group on updating the “2009 Terminology on Disaster Risk Reduction.”
Ambassador Wayne McCook of Jamaica chaired the working group, which met three times between September 2015 and November 2016 before completing its work.
Ambassador McCook said last year: “We’re working to give a practical dimension and clarity to the ways in which the Sendai Framework is to be implemented. It signals a global intent to make progress in the different areas of the disaster risk reduction agenda.”
Regarding the related process of crafting terminology, he added: “The idea is not just to write a book of terms, but to elaborate terms that help to bring clarity to the treatment of the subject matter.”
The resolution was originally co-sponsored by Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, Netherlands, Palau, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland,
They were joined as co-sponsors by Guatemala, Maldives, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Serbia, Albania, Argentina, India, Luxembourg, Malta, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Nicaragua, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Ukraine.