The ISDR-Asia Partnership Forum meeting in Ulaanbaatar to prepare for the July Asia Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (photo: UNISDR)
By Chris Weeks
ULAANBAATAR, 2 May, 2018 - Efforts to eradicate poverty in the Asia-Pacific region are being impeded by the high volume of disaster events across the region where the lives of millions are disrupted every year by floods, storms, drought and earthquakes.
The Deputy Prime Minister of Mongolia, Mr. U. Enkhtuvshin, has urged the region’s 42 countries to implement the global plan for reducing disaster losses, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and to put the principle of building-back-better at the heart of post-disaster recovery.
He was speaking at ISDR-Asia Partnership Forum convened in the Mongolian capital, in advance of the Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, a major biennial gathering to discuss progress on reducing disaster losses in the region which Mongolia will also host in July.
Mr. Enkhtuvshin said: “Despite the fact that Asia-Pacific region is achieving great progresses in social and economic development and eradicating the level of poverty which has brought positive changes in the region, our region remains vulnerable to disasters with millions of people suffering from losses of lives and properties due to disasters.
“We are obliged to create resilient cities and urban settlements, and to reinforce buildings and infrastructures against disasters. Building back better and fostering public-private partnership to increase disaster risk investments should be at the core of our policy and action.”
In a video address, the head of UNISDR, Ms. Mami Mizutori, recalled that in the month of May “communities in China and Myanmar will commemorate two of the deadliest disasters of recent times, the Wenchuan Earthquake and Cyclone Nargis. More than 200,000 people lost their lives in these events, a stark reminder of the devastating impact of disasters.”
She said that the Forum attended by 131 delegates from over 20 countries was an opportunity to review progress on the Asia Regional Plan for Implementation of the Sendai Framework and clarify outstanding issues that need to be addressed.
The Forum reviewed efforts towards achieving goals in the Asia Regional Plan for Implementation of the Sendai Framework, in preparation for the forthcoming Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in July.
Delegates emphasised that policies and commitments must include all of society, reflecting the most vulnerable and the voices of disability, youth and gender to ensure that no-one is left behind if disaster strikes. Significant challenges also remain with high frequency, low impact disasters, the meeting heard.
Speaking after the conference, Loretta Hieber Girardet, UNISDR’s Chief for the Asia-Pacific, said: “Over the past two days, I’ve heard a resounding call from governments and groups across the Asia-Pacific that commitments to reduce disaster risk must translate into action at community level.
“Communities need to be empowered to build their resilience to disasters and communities need to be listened to at the national level. There is a lot of support for this in discussions about increasing the number of national and local strategies for disaster risk reduction by 2020 as required by target (e) of the Sendai Framework.”
The Drafting Committee for the Asian Ministerial Conference, consisting of representatives of Member States, Intergovernmental Organisations and stakeholder groups, was also constituted and had its first meeting on the sidelines of the IAP Forum chaired by Maj. Gen. Badral Tuvshin, Chief of National Emergency Management Agency of Mongolia.
The Committee will consider IAP Forum inputs and feedback on the draft outcome documents of the Asian Ministerial Conference, in particular, the Ulaanbaatar Declaration and the Action Plan 2018-2020 and propose the final draft documents to the Ministerial Conference.
At the conference in July, government ministers will step in to make firm political commitments to tackle disaster risk. Incorporating advice from civil society groups, experts and scientists, attendees will adopt the action plan and share commitments for implementation at the July conference.
- Follow @UNISDR_AsiaPac and #AMCDRR2018 for updates on the Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in July.