China’s 5th National Forum on Comprehensive Disaster Risk Reduction and Sustainable Development attracted 300 disaster policymakers and practitioners. (Photo: UNISDR)
By Andy McElroy
BEIJING, 13 May 2014
– China has signaled its support for stronger international cooperation to prevent and reduce the impact of disasters as momentum builds to develop the Post-2015 Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.
The Deputy Minister of Civil Affairs in China, Ms. Jiang Li, welcomed 300 disaster policymakers, experts and managers to the 5th National Forum on Comprehensive Disaster Risk Reduction and Sustainable Development (May 8-9), in Beijing, which highlighted the need to strengthen integrated governance and international financing mechanisms for disaster risk reduction.
Prof. Shi Peijun, Vice Chair of China’s Experts Committee on Reducing Disasters, chronicled the country’s efforts to strengthen resilience over the past 25 years and emphasized that disaster risk reduction is part of front line efforts to address climate change.
“We need increased investment in establishing an international funding mechanism and international risk information network for the implementation of the successor to the Hyogo Framework for Action,” Prof. Shi said.
The Head of Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Mr Muhammad Saeed Aleem, echoed the theme and also emphasized the need for a strong link between the post-2015 sustainable development goals and the new framework for disaster risk reduction.
“Everyone is now convinced that disaster risk prevention is of great importance, but why do we have only international funds for disaster response and not international funds for disaster risk prevention?” Mr Aleem asked.
Officials from China were joined by government representatives and experts from Austria, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Singapore, and Switzerland. They shared views on progress and challenges in the implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015 and provided input to formulate the Post-2015 Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.
Participants agreed that institutional arrangements were a vital part of disaster risk governance. However, there is no one template appropriate for all countries; instead, to strengthen their institutions, each country should review their own experience while taking note of lessons from others.
The Forum identified the importance of science and technology and called for stronger trust between scientists and policymakers so that more technical information of practical use.
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, Ms Margareta Wahlström, welcomed China’s commitment and said: “Sustainable development goals cannot be achieved without managing disaster risk.”
Ms Wahlström, who is also Head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) added: “The overall focus of disaster risk management, therefore, has to shift from shielding social and economic development against what are seen as external events and shocks, to one of transforming development to manage risks, seize opportunities, strengthen resilience, thereby ensuring sustainable development.”
The conference was held on China’s annual Disaster Prevention and Reduction Day which this year focused on urbanisation and the underlying drivers of disaster risk in city settings.