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Nations adopt new global disaster plan, set targets to curb risk, losses

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AMID the increasing threat posed by climate change, representatives from 187 UN member States last week adopted the first major agreement of the Post-2015 development agenda, a far-reaching new framework for disaster risk reduction with seven targets and four priorities for action.

The U.N. World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction has set specific goals and a time frame to mitigate the risks and damage of disasters Under a new 15-year action plan adopted in Sendai, the governments of more than 180 countries agreed on seven global goals aimed at “substantially” reducing global disaster mortality, victims and economic losses in terms of global gross domestic product by 2030.

The framework said “particular attention” should be paid to the least-developed countries, small island states and African countries that are especially vulnerable to disasters, calling for the “urgent strengthening of international cooperation.”

Less-developed economies had sought a stronger commitment from the international community on the issue of financial aid, but developed countries were reluctant to mention specific percentages or figures for how much they should increase financial support, negotiation sources said.

About 187 countries have agreed to reduce economic losses in relation to global GDP by 2030. The new agreement also includes targets to reduce damage to infrastructure and disruption to basic services, including health and education facilities, and to widen access to early warning systems

The framework outlines seven global targets to be achieved over the next 15 years: a substantial reduction in global disaster mortality; a substantial reduction in numbers of affected people; a reduction in economic losses in relation to global GDP; substantial reduction in disaster damage to critical infrastructure and disruption of basic services, including health and education facilities; an increase in the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020; enhanced international cooperation; and increased access to multi-hazard early warning systems and disaster risk information and assessments.

Calls were strong among civil society groups and nongovernmental organizations for enhanced proactive investment to lessen disaster damage and promote sustainable growth, as it is now widely recognized that the number of climate change-related natural calamities are increasing.

The framework recognized climate change as “one of the drivers of disaster risk” and underlined the need to address the issue.

The Sendai gathering is the first in a series of crucial international meetings this year on development goals and climate change, including the 21st Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change to be held in Paris at the end of the year.

The U.N. conference on disaster management was held in the city of Yokohama in 1994 and in Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture, in 2005. The new framework replaces the Hyogo Framework for Action that covered the past decade.

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, Margareta Wahlström said: “The adoption of this new framework for disaster risk reduction opens a major new chapter in sustainable development as it outlines clear targets and priorities for action which will lead to a substantial reduction of disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods and health.

“Implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction over the next 15 years will require strong commitment and political leadership and will be vital to the achievement of future agreements on sustainable development goals and climate later this year. As the UN Secretary-General said here on the opening day, sustainability starts in Sendai.”

Conference President, Ms. Yamatani, said: “Japan’s special relationship with the global disaster risk reduction community has been strengthened by the outcome of this World Conference. Successful implementation of this new framework will mean a reduction of existing levels of disaster risk and avoidance of the creation of new risk.”

Conference Main Committee Co-Chair, Ambassador Päivi Kairamo from Finland, said: “Delegates have taken into account the experience gained through implementation of the current Hyogo Framework for Action. We have agreed on four priorities for action focussed on a better understanding of risk, strengthened disaster risk governance and more investment.

“A final priority calls for more  effective disaster preparedness and embedding the ‘build back better’ principle into recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction. These will be the four points of the DRR compass for the next 15 years.”
Her fellow Co-Chair, Ambassador, Thani Thongphakdi from Thailand, said: “I would like to thank all those who have persevered over these last five days to deliver a framework that will guide disaster risk reduction for the next 15 years.”

The World Conference was attended by over 6,500 participants including 2,800 government representatives from 187 governments. The Public Forum had 143,000 visitors over the five days of the conference making it one of the largest UN gatherings ever held in Japan.



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