The conference declaration benefited from the participation of national and local government officials, academics, members of civil society, youth groups and non-government organizations from some 30 countries.
By Richard Waddington
GUAYAQUIL, 30 May 2014
– The Americas region gave further impetus to the global efforts to agree a new international framework on disaster risk reduction (DRR) by adopting on Thursday a series of recommendations to be included in the agreement due to be adopted at a world conference next year in Sendai, Japan.
“It has been a great success. Things are moving. I can see progress,” said Margareta Wahlström, Head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) at the end of the three-day gathering in this Ecuadorian port city.
The 4th Session of the Americas Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction was the second in a series of regional conferences aimed at shaping the agenda for the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction to be held in March 2015. The conference will adopt a new framework to succeed the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) adopted in 2005.
The participants emphasized the overall opportunity to influence the Post-2015 Development Agenda and ensure coherence between new initiatives on development, risk management, climate change, humanitarian action and sustainable urban development.
“Such coherence is expressed in the definition of common indicators and objectives as well as in the efficient use of resources to promote greater impact within nations and communities,” stated the final Conference Declaration which recommends the development of “indicators of resilience.”
Some 600 national and local government officials, academics, members of civil society, youth groups and non-government organizations from some 30 countries took part in the intense public debates and closed-door meetings that yielded a raft of recommendations for Sendai.
A final declaration applauded the “substantial contributions” of the HFA to the formulation of strategies and policies for disaster reduction. There have been significant successes.
For example, 89% of countries in the Americas are implementing initiatives on safe hospitals and improving the resilience of health services to ensure they can function after a disaster.
But at the same time, economic damage and losses caused by disasters, mainly low intensity hydro-meteorological events, have continued to rise, the statement noted. It urged better coordination in international disaster response and the strengthening of preparedness and response and recovery capacity at community, local, national and regional levels.
The new framework, which governments will begin to hammer out at a first meeting of the intergovernmental preparatory committee in Geneva in July, must clearly define the roles and responsibilities of the different actors among the various levels of government and society when it comes to disaster reduction. It should place community participation at the centre of risk management and explicitly incorporate local governments within the post-2015 framework.
The Declaration also called for the strengthening of UNISDR to help it fulfil its mandate, including in risk modelling, the generation of disaster loss databases and in reviewing regional strategies, as well as in supporting the monitoring of the new framework.
“We have crossed a threshold in terms of people’s understanding of what needs to be done,” declared Ms Wahlström. “Things don’t necessarily become easier once you cross a threshold, but they become clearer,” she said.