FEATURE: Reducing the risk of disasters: the road from Geneva to Sendai
Kashmala Kakakhel of CDKN reports on messages emerging from the 4th Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction in Switzerland, as the meeting draws to a close today
More than 3,500 delegates are meeting this week in Geneva for the 4th Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction. Declaring the session open yesterday, President of Switzerland Ueli Maurer urged participants to build on the achievements of the Hyogo Framework for Action. The Hyogo Framework is the existing global voluntary agreement on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) which 168 countries signed in 2005. The Hyogo Framework responds to the need for a comprehensive, integrated, multi-disciplinary approach to identifying and implementing disaster risk reduction measures. President Maurer said participants should consider the challenges and gaps in the Hyogo Framework and contribute positively to the discourse that is under way for a revised Hyogo Framework 2 as part of the Post-2015 multilateral framework for development.
The Hyogo Framework slated to expire by 2015, and the revised Framework is due to be agreed at the 2015 World Conference on DRR in Sendai, Japan. This year’s Global Platform therefore comes at an important juncture. The evidence and lessons brought to Geneva will set the pace for more focused discussions conducted over the next two years as the DRR community gears up to renew its vows to ‘Invest Today for a Safer Tomorrow’. The consultation process for the second Hyogo Framework began in March 2012 and focused initially on broad substantive issues for a new framework. A draft of the second Hyogo Framework will be produced following this week’s conference.
The Global Platform is focusing on three critical areas in disaster risk reduction. The first is private sector investment in disaster risk management, which the Global Assessment Report by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNSIDR) has presented as an opportunity to create shared value for businesses. The second is the importance of civil society support for community-level work to enhance policies for resilience. The third is the role of local and national governments, which will ultimately be responsible for the continued implementation of the second Hyogo Framework after 2015.
The various plenaries, official statements and side events so far have yielded a more or less a similar message: each actor must understand the role they have played towards reducing vulnerability of the marginalised against disasters. Discussions are helping to crystallise views on how best to augment respective responsibilities and move towards defining roles for a more coherent approach. However, numerous discussions have also underlined the importance of improving governance processes, which, if ignored may hinder positive progress.
Margareta Wahlstrom, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, has called for delegates of this Global Platform to take the crucial responsibility for future generations. Critical elements from these talks will ultimately shape the international agenda of disaster risk reduction post 2015. Delegates must therefore choose their course with care.