Online Climate Change Consultation: Disaster Reduction Statement to UNFCCC Parties
9-16 November 2005



Statement to be used as a basis for an intervention by the Inter-Agency Secretariat for the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) on behalf of the ISDR system
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SBSTA agenda item 11(b)
Statement structure:
Political recognition and technical analysis of the link between adaptation to climate change and disaster risk reduction and technical
Nature of the link between disaster risk reduction and adaptation to climate change
Relevance of the WCDR outcomes for work under the Convention and Kyoto Protocol
Ongoing activities
Question 1: Please provide specific comments on the structure of the statement
Question 2: (Please be aware that this is the third time the ISDR addresses UNFCCC Parties) Are there other background elements to be added or expanded in the introduction, such as the ISDR system, the Conference preparations and holding, or Yokohama and its review?
  1. The ISDR was established by the UN General Assembly in the year 2000 and it builds on the experience of the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR), which ran from 1990 to 1999. The ISDR’s task force established a Working Group on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction, co-chaired by UNDP and WMO, of which the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat is a member. The Working Group focuses on the promotion of an integrated approach to climate risk. To take stock of progress in disaster risk reduction, the General Assembly convened a World Conference on Disaster Reduction (WCDR), which took place from 18 to 22 January 2005 in Kobe-Hyogo, Japan. The WCDR yielded important outcomes regarding climate change adaptation here highlighted.
  2. Coming after the dramatic shock caused by the tsunami tragedy, the WCDR could not have been more timely. It assumed an unprecedented level of significance with regard to disaster risk reduction. It is qualified as a landmark in worldwide understanding and commitment to implement a disaster risk reduction agenda.

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Political recognition and technical analysis of the link between adaptation to climate change and disaster risk reduction

Question 3: Are there other elements/events to be included to reinforce the case for the political acceptance of the links between adaptation to climate change and disaster risk reduction?

  1. At the tenth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP-10) last year, an exchange of views on activities of the UNFCCC relevant to WCDR took place. As requested by the COP, the UNFCCC secretariat reported to the WCDR on these activities, in particular the adoption of the Buenos Aires programme of work on adaptation and response measures contained in decision 1/CP.10. The secretariat conveyed the support expressed by COP 10 for the successful outcome of the Conference and stated that the implementation of the Buenos Aires programme would undoubtedly benefit from a successful outcome of the WCDR.
  2. The WCDR furthered political recognition of the importance of climate variability and change as important contributors to patterns of risk, which threaten hard-won development gains. As a result, the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015: Building the resilience of nations and communities to disasters strongly supports the integration of adaptation to climate change and disaster risk reduction in the context of sustainable development.
  3. This year also G-8 leaders strongly supported disaster risk reduction, the strategy and the development of early warning as a means to reduce disaster risks.

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Question 4: Taking account of the next section, should more be said on the technical aspects of the link in this paragraph?
  1. In order to concretise action to develop a comprehensive approach that addresses current and future hazards and environmental risks, a discussion paper 'Disaster Risk Management in a Changing Climate' was produced by the Vulnerability and Adaptation Resource Group (VARG) for WCDR and presented at the twenty-second session of the subsidiary bodies of the Convention. The paper provides the analytical and technical basis for effective and practical coordination of action to address both existing and new challenges faced by adaptation to climate change and disaster risk reduction in the context of sustainable development.

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Nature of the link between disaster risk reduction and adaptation to climate change

Question 5: Please comment on the clarity/logic of the explanation of the nature of the link. Are elements missing or redundant?

  1. The outcomes of WCDR underline that present disasters remain a major impediment to sustainable development and poverty eradication. In addition it states that development investments that fail to consider disaster risks can increase vulnerability. This very much applies to climate-related disasters, owing that two-thirds of all disasters are climate or weather-related. The challenges posed by disasters are further exacerbated through changes in climate, which are already happening as reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
  2. The impacts of climate change on natural hazards and underlying risk factors include changes in the magnitude and frequency of climatic extremes and in average climatic conditions and climate variability. In addition to such an exacerbation or alteration of existing threats, some impacts may be new to a region in recent history for which no experience in dealing with such impacts exists.
  3. Both communities face the same challenges to evaluate and address risks, vulnerabilities and possible remedial measures as part of the development process, although with different timeframes and conceptual differences. Similar professional expertise is required to capture the scientific and socio-economic dimensions of managing hazard risks and environmental change. Therefore the starting point for adaptation to climate change measures is to improve the capacity of communities, governments or regions to deal with current climate vulnerabilities, especially if such measures take a dynamic approach to adjust to changing risks and vulnerabilities. The realization of synergies between the policy frameworks and practical methodologies for disaster risk reduction and adaptation to climate change is a win-win strategy, that will lead to a better use of existing resources and established practices for both communities. A systematic integration of efforts to reduce disaster risks into policies, plans and programmes for sustainable development and poverty reduction, as well as supported through bilateral, regional and international cooperation, including partnerships as outlined in the Hyogo Framework will yield mutual benefits.

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Relevance of the WCDR outcomes for work under the Convention

Question 6: Participants are kindly requested to look closely at activities mentioned: Should the five Priorities for Action be quoted? Have some activities been overlooked? Which ones could be removed? How can readability be improved?
Should more be said on the interface with the Mauritius strategy for SIDS or other processes (such as MDGs)?

  1. The adoption of the Hyogo Declaration and Hyogo Framework for Action represent a significant source of support and strengthening for the implementation of the Convention and Kyoto Protocol. In line with COP decisions, in particular 5/CP.7 and 1/CP.10, the Declaration and Framework state that the resilience of nations and communities to disasters depends on people-centered early warning systems, risks assessments, education and other proactive, integrated, multi-hazard, and multi-sectoral approaches and activities in the context of the disaster reduction cycle, which consists of prevention, preparedness, and emergency response, as well as recovery and rehabilitation. Congruent with the Convention's spirit they also state that there is an urgent need to enhance the capacity of disaster-prone developing countries, in particular the least developed among them, as well as small island developing states (SIDS), to reduce the impacts of disasters through strengthened national efforts and enhanced bilateral, regional and international cooperation, including through technical and financial assistance. In support of the Buenos Aires programme, they resolve to further develop information sharing mechanisms on programmes, initiatives, best practices, lessons learnt and technologies in support of disaster risk reduction so that the international community can share the results and benefits from these efforts.
  2. Concretely, the Hyogo Framework for Action, building on other relevant multilateral frameworks and declarations, provides a clear and authoritative framework for strengthening preventive measures to reduce substantially the loss of human lives and social, economic and environmental assets of communities and countries over the next ten years. To achieve this outcome, it outlines three strategic goals:
    · the effective integration of disaster risk reduction into sustainable development policies and planning;
    · the development and strengthening of institutions, mechanisms and capacities to build resilience to hazards;
    · the systematic incorporation of risk reduction approaches into the implementation of emergency preparedness, response and recovery programmes.
  3. Associated with these strategic goals, the Framework identifies priorities for action with a set of key activities to be undertaken by States, regional and international organizations and other actors as appropriate. These priorities and activities will support and strengthen implementation of Articles 4, 5, 6 and 12 of the Convention, Article 10 of the Kyoto Protocol, the Buenos Aires programme and COP decisions on implementation of Article 4.8 and 9 of the Convention, in particular 5/CP.7 and the National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPA) process, capacity building (2/CP.7), [note: do you find decision symbols useful/necessary?] development and transfer of technologies (4/CP.7), funding, in particular 5/CP.9 and 6/CP.9, implementation of the global observing system for climate (5/CP.10). These activities should also contribute to the SBSTA programme of work on scientific, technical and socio-economic aspects of impacts of, and vulnerability and adaptation to, climate change, and the continuous updating of the UNFCCC secretariat’s compendium on methods and tools to evaluate impacts of, vulnerability and adaptation to, climate change. It should be noted that the Hyogo Framework for Action is also supportive of the implementation of the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action on the Sustainable Development of SIDS.
  4. Paragraph 19 of Priority for Action 4 of the Hyogo Framework—concerned with reducing underlying risk factors in sector development planning and programmes—strongly supports efforts to link disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation efforts. It identifies in the context of ‘environment and natural resource management’ the need to ‘promote the integration of risk reduction associated with existing climate variability and future change into strategies for the reduction of disaster risk and adaptation to climate change, which would include the clear identification of climate-related disaster risks, the design of specific risk reduction measures and an improved and routine use of climate risk information by planners, engineers and other decision-makers’ as one of the key activities.
  5. Chapter IV, concerned with ‘implementation and follow-up’ notes that States should ‘promote the integration of risk reduction associated with existing climate variability and future climate change into strategies for the reduction of disaster risk and adaptation to climate change;’.
  6. Chapter IV furthermore notes in terms of ‘resource mobilization’ that States should ‘mainstream disaster risk reduction measures appropriately into multilateral and bilateral development assistance programmes, including those related to poverty reduction, natural resource management, urban development and adaptation to climate change;’.
  7. The Hyogo Framework recognizes in its annex explicitly the relevance of the UNFCCC and the IPCC.
  8. In addition to these specific provisions, other activities of the Hyogo Framework link into the work of the Convention. These include activities recommended under Priority for Action 2 to identify, assess and monitor disaster risks and enhance early warning. In this regard, the Platform for the Promotion of Early Warning is particularly relevant for the Convention process. One of its purposes is to support the International Early Warning Programme launched during the WCDR, to stimulate cooperation and advances in early warning systems. It is coordinating a global survey of early warning system capacities and gaps, at the request of the UN Secretary-General, with a view to identifying priority steps needed to achieve comprehensive warning capacity. The survey is to be published in early 2006. Under the auspices of the UN, Germany is organizing, in March 2006, a timely third International Conference on Early Warning. The conference will, among other things, seek to stimulate and showcase concrete projects to build early warning systems for vulnerable countries.
  9. The development of directories, inventories and information-sharing systems on good practices and easy-to-use disaster risk reduction technologies expected under Priority for Action 3 (‘use knowledge, innovation and education to build a culture of safety and resilience at all levels’) should support SBSTA’s further work on technologies for adaptation as recommended during the seminar on the development and transfer of technologies for adaptation to climate change held last June.
  10. In addition to aforementioned paragraph 19, Priority for Action 4 (‘reduce the underlying risk’) recommends activities to support contingency planning, in particular for droughts and floods, namely the implementation of integrated flood management, the promotion of food security and development of financial risk sharing mechanisms, particularly insurance and reinsurance against disasters; the promotion of public-private partnerships for pre-disasters activities such as risk assessments and early warning systems. The sustainable use and management of ecosystems through better land-use planning and development activities is also encouraged.

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Question 7: Are the aspects of follow-up sufficiently developed? Should the development of indicators be reflected? Should the synergy among the many reporting requirements falling upon governments and organizations be addressed? Should the commitments matrix be explicitly presented?
  1. Following the Conference, the ISDR system adopted a set of strategic directions compiling initiatives and tools to assist in the implementation of the Hyogo Framework at all levels, through the use of existing institutional mechanisms. Among these, the sharing of institutional strategies and related action plans in response to the Framework and the identification of organizations' major activity areas in disaster risk reduction has the potential to overcome some of the institutional barriers to facilitate the integration of experience, information and knowledge of development, climate change and disaster risk management communities. Valuable information will be made available for Convention Parties from the communication of information on disaster risk reduction policies and activities that provide adaptation benefits undertaken in response to the Hyogo Framework. In turn, the collection of information on disaster risk reduction activities for inclusion in national communications will further enhance the strategic coordination between experts and institutions working on disaster risk reduction and climate change.

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Ongoing activities

Question 8: Should ongoing activities of the WG and secretariat be included or the statement be left to the WCDR outcomes? If description of these activities is kept, should they be integrated to above paras on Priorities for Action?

  1. Cooperation between the climate change and disaster risk management communities did not await the WCDR to start. The IATF/Working Group on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction is initiating dialogue with the Least Developed Countries Expert Group (LEG) to assist the poorest developing countries in accessing disaster reduction best practices for adaptation to climate change in the context of the NAPA process.
  2. Greater integration between approaches to climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction is already achieved thanks to the Working Group’s newsletter and associated network. The Working Group is preparing a paper that will clarify the concepts and terms shared by the two communities of practice. The paper will explore divergence of meaning of terms and concepts; introduce concepts new to one of the fields (and important to the other); and propose a common compendium to enable concerted discussion between the two communities and pave the way for future integration of concepts and practices. The paper will comprise of an explanatory glossary with concise explanations on how each concept has evolved in its field of use and what it implies for its community of users at present. Another paper will present disaster risk reduction tools that may be useful for climate change adaptation and provide a more targeted analysis of one particular type of disaster risk reduction tool to demonstrate how these tools may be modified to include climate change concerns. The paper is developed with the Provention Consortium and the Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre.
  3. The Working Group on Climate Change and Disaster Reduction is also active in promoting the reporting of vulnerabilities to current climate variability, methodological approaches, no-regret strategies and disaster risk reduction measures by non-Annex I Parties in their national communications. Guidance provided at the ‘Initiation Workshop in Support of the Preparation of Second National Communications from Non-Annex I Parties’ held in Georgia last October was appreciated by Parties and contacts were made to increase the interaction between disaster risk reduction national platforms and second national communications coordinators.
  4. The previous IPCC assessment reports did not address disasters in great detail. Therefore, the secretariat was invited to participate in the review of the fourth assessment to reflect the crosscutting complexity of disasters and the relevance of their assessment for longer-term adaptation needs and requirements.

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Question 9: How to conclude? Is the summary of Hyogo redundant or should it be shortened? What are the priority areas for the two years to come? What specific proposals can be made by the ISDR system?

  1. The international disaster risk reduction community looks forward to working with the climate change community in the years to come towards the creation of a comprehensive risk management approach that addresses risks associated with natural hazards and climate change and thereby helps to promote the sustainability of the development processes.
  2. Supporting the link between disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation efforts means promoting development processes that allow communities to cope with current natural hazards, but also have the built-in capacity to adapt to changing risk patterns. To that effect, the Hyogo Framework for Action recommends the integration of risk reduction associated with existing climate variability and future climate change into strategies for reduction of disaster risks and adaptation to climate change; use by decision-makers, engineers and planners of climate-related risk information, and the mainstreaming of disaster risk reduction measures appropriately in adaptation to climate change. Priority areas for future collaboration include the understanding, mapping and sharing of climate-related disaster risk information, including for policy development and planning; guidance for developing and strengthening early warning systems; weather and climate forecasts and identification of long-term changes and emerging risks. The statement introduced specific activities that have the potential to fulfil our expectations for a strengthened communication between and within our institutions to ensure that activities concerned with disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation build on synergies and complementarities, while being aware of conceptual differences. One indication of progress will be how our efforts lead to reducing impacts of climate-related disasters, in a particular region in the face of comparable or increasing exposure to natural hazards and environmental change.

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