This risk profile is currently being updated with new data from the 2013 Global Risk Update.
Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs, Department for Development Cooperation
Following the adoption of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015 – 2030) and after consultation with experts from the UN and the European Forum for Disaster Risk Reduction, Belgium appointed early 2016 a national focal point, located in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. To bring about the paradigm shift, from response to prevention, a holistic approach was needed, thereby bringing together all players. The Focal point called every two months all relevant stakeholders for them to present themselves and explain their disaster management strategies.
Presentations from line ministries were always followed by debates with a particular focus on prevention. Members of the Belgium Platform were each time reminded they should focus on how they plan to shift from responsiveness to long term prevention efforts. Prevention of risks seems on everyone’s mind but, so it turned out, it is still the case that disasters are managed rather than their underlying risks. Typically, prevention could fall within the remit of another ‘line ministry’, involves more complex working methods for which there isn’t the necessary legal framework in place (yet) or financial resources are lacking, or such course of action is from a legal point of view not foreseen altogether.
In a sense the Belgium Sendai platform has become a forum for experts to build the necessary communication lines between departments at all levels. Indeed, disasters are not only cross country issues, but their effective handling requires clarity in roles and responsibilities amongst different departments. That is most likely the first success of the Sendai implementation platform: to connect the dots between different players. This strategy of mapping existing initiatives, crisis-response structures, coordination protocols and civil protection responsibilities was pursued for almost a year (autumn 2016- autumn 2017).
In parallel, Belgium also strives to implement the Sendai framework in partner countries by supporting and funding DRR programs in highly disaster-prone countries, such as in the Sahel and the Great Lakes Region. Belgium International Cooperation has supported substantially (2013-2016 over 330 million €) the UN international climate funds (Green Environment Fund, Global Environment Facility, Least Developed Countries Fund) to help those communities meeting their Sendai requirements or increase climate adaptation and resilience among Small Islands Developing States.
The Belgian Sendai platform remains an expert driven voluntary initiative wherein the Foreign Office acts as facilitator between involved departments. To bring the Belgian platform to a more operational level also civil society and the private sector need to be involved. This is scheduled to take place as of early 2018. Drafting a national Sendai strategy will require political support and initiative. Only when the entire mapping or recognizance exercise is finalized (mid 2018) shall involvement of the executive (cabinet) level of line Ministries be required.
Finally, Sendai focal points of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg meet every two months in the framework of the Benelux union. Recently the German border region of Nordrhein-Westfalen was welcomed to join relevant meetings.