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OPINION: The need for climate-smart disaster risk reduction


How is the convergence between the Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Climate Change Adaptation agendas reflected at policy level and in practical programming in Asia? Observations from the 5th Asian Ministerial Conference on DRR (AMCDRR) in Indonesia suggest that progress is mixed and opportunities remain

By Knud Falk, Technical Advisor at Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, Hina Lotia, Regional Coordinator Asia, CDKN and Amy Kirbyshire, Project Officer, CDKN

Discussion of SREX was notable in its absence at the 5th Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR). First launched in November 2011, the IPCC Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation represents a significant step towards integrating and harmonising climate change adaptation and disaster risk management efforts. The findings of the report have been widely disseminated, including through CDKN’s regional events and ‘lessons learnt’ publications. Meanwhile, integrating local level Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) into national development planning was one of three key themes of the conference. So it was curious that, as the fourth and final day of the AMCDRR came to a close on 25 October 2012, SREX had barely been mentioned.

Nevertheless, experiences at AMCDRR suggest that climate change is becoming better considered in disaster risk management policy and practice. All of the AMCDRR’s relevant technical sessions and formal documents took due note of the increasing risks and disaster frequency and impacts caused by several drivers, including climate change. The final outcome of the conference, the Yogyakarta Declaration, called on DRR stakeholders to “integrate local DRR and CCA into national development planning”, and to “promote, replicate and scale-up successful community-based DRR and CCA initiatives”, among other climate change-related statements.

Positively, a considerable appetite for improving local level disaster risk management and CCA was evident throughout the conference. There was widespread consensus from delegates, who included a number of local government representatives, that measures such as better communication, decentralisation of decision-making powers and resources, and improved access to data are all needed to tackle these issues in Asia. A full list of the measures agreed upon by delegations are included in the Yogyakarta Declaration, which will be available on the AMCDRR website soon.

As well as re-iterating the direction of Asia’s DRR efforts and convergence with CCA, the Yogyakarta Declaration is the first formal document to suggest ideas for a post-2015 Hyogo Framework for Action. Most interesting, but not very visible at the conference, may be the Progress Report 2011–12 (Annex 11 to the Yogyakarta Declaration) on the 2010 Regional Roadmap and Action Plan on DRR through CCA in Asia and the Pacific (REMAP). Most progress was identified in relation to the REMAP aim of “raising awareness and building capacity for DRR and CCA at the national and local levels“, where at least half of the 53 Asian nations that attended the 4th AMCDRR have subsequently made significant progress. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this progress has been more significant at national, rather than, local levels.

Despite widespread agreement at the AMCDRR on what needs to be done to improve and to integrate DRM and CCA, the conference was notably thin on how to achieve this. The agenda featured little in the way of practical planning, and outside of the side events there were few ideas or case studies presented on best practices. Clearly, there is still a long way to go. People are aware they need to integrate DRR and CCA efforts, and transfer to local level governance, but uptake on the ground is slow.

The Minimum Standards for local climate-smart Disaster Risk Reduction can help move things forward. Developed with CDKN support and launched at the AMCDRR, these standards are based on inputs from the local civil society counterparts of Partners for Resilience (PfR) in the Philippines and Indonesia. They outline practical approaches to implementing climate-smart DRR activities that communities can undertake with relatively limited external support. When the minimum standards are met, local DRR actions are climate smart and contribute to climate change adaptation. What is more, the strategies that consider these standards will be scalable, realistic and achievable.

By the next AMCDRR in 2014, the standards will have been tested and further refined by PfR counterparts and other organisations. We hope the next REMAP reporting will document more progress on practical convergence of the DRR and CCA agendas, drawing on the valuable lessons outlined in the IPCC’s SREX publication. If so, DRR and CCA should, in the intervening months, become sufficiently integrated for the next AMCDRR Declaration to be explicitly “climate smart”.

 

 

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