OPINION: A Step Forward? Assessing the Zero Draft of the Post-2015 Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction
A team* from Overseas Development Institute and CDKN respond to the Zero Draft of the Post-2015 Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the HFA2.
Governments meet in Geneva on the 17th and 18th November to pore over the latest draft of the Post-2015 Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR). This meeting represents the last major gathering before the World Conference on DRR in Sendai, Japan in March 2015. As with the ‘pre-zero draft’, experts at the Overseas Development Institute and CDKN have been analysing the draft text and making suggestions for improvement.
In our analysis of the pre-zero draft, we identified some areas of promise, including the commitment to setting global DRR targets, the inclusion of environmental dimensions of disaster risk and the foregrounding of science and technology. We also identified major shortfalls, as expected of a pre-zero draft, including a fundamental confusion in how goals, targets, outcomes and priorities for action were linked. The absence of a serious discussion about the interface between DRR and poverty, growth, climate change and conflict was a significant omission
The Co-Chairs outline how the preparation of the latest zero draft benefitted from a range of inputs from governments, major groups and others stakeholders, as well as from regional dialogues and other consultation meetings. Nonetheless, while the zero draft has advanced – particularly with a stronger narrative around inclusion of vulnerable groups in DRR – it does not represent the leap forward that was needed and has even regressed in some areas.
Some of the fundamental criticisms made by ODI/CDKN and by a set of governments have not been addressed, including the introspective preamble that fails to place DRR in a development, climate and growth-oriented narrative and an organising structure that is still disjointed. The Global Partnerships section is narrowly construed, misses key actors and places far too much emphasis on the mandate of UNISDR. The interface with climate change, conflict and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is only treated fleetingly, and there is little practical guidance on the role of international and regional organisations. The list can go on.
A full set of comments is linked here. These draw on the ODI/CDKN ‘The future framework for disaster risk reduction: A guide for decision makers”’, which has just been released in its second edition. This Guide offers government representatives and other stakeholders the opportunity to assess the evidence base on which our comments are made.
The 12 points below summarise the much more detailed feedback we have compiled.
- The Preamble reflects a familiar and safe narrative around DRR. It should be recast to reiterate the centrality of DRR to sustainable development, poverty reduction, economic growth and climate action. Equally, it should draw stronger links with the SDGs, including by recognising the dependency that the post-2015 framework for DRR has on other policy processes to effectively address the drivers of disaster risk. The benefits DRR brings for security, investor confidence and economic growth, irrespective of whether a loss occurs, should be highlighted.
- The organising structure of the entire framework has seen improvement in the zero draft, but still lacks coherence: (i) The four priorities for action do not directly relate to achieving the goal, (ii) the targets do not measure key aspects of the outcome, particularly the reduction of losses of assets, (iii) the fourth priority, around preparedness and relief, is not reflected in the language of the goal and (iv) the priority on investments in resilience runs the risk of being the framework’s millstone. These concerns and others outlined in our full feedback encouraged us to develop a counter organising structure to help promote debate. Our two-page graphical representation of the post-2015 DRR framework tries to be more coherent, practical and results oriented, while incorporating a role for all stakeholders. It also draws direct links with the SDGs by including the DRR target under SDG Goal 1 as the headline.
- Progress monitoring and accountability: The zero draft includes some key points on how the framework will be monitored but needs to go further in chalking out a clear plan to measure progress. This includes issues such as the importance of regional institutions in progress monitoring, the need to synchronise monitoring cycles between the SDGs and the post-2015 framework for DRR, the value of providing a basket of indicators from which countries can choose those most relevant to their circumstances, the importance of monitoring extensive risk and need for ‘normalising’ data for key variables to allow for comparisons between time periods. The headline targets clearly need more work.
- Interface with SDGs: The zero draft mentions the process to forge the SDGs, but is woefully inadequate in outlining the manner in which these two highly overlapping frameworks will align. Subsequent drafts of the framework need to underline the links between finance mechanisms for both frameworks, the overlaps in science and data required to make progress on both, the importance of sharing and targets and indicators and the need for synchrony in monitoring cycles.
- On Climate Change: Not much has changed since the pre-zero draft, with few concrete recommendations aside from overarching calls for greater mainstreaming of climate-related issues into planning processes. Improved emphasis on creating links with parallel Post-2015 frameworks on development and climate change, encouraging the uptake of climate information in long-term decision making, and strengthening adaptive capacity at all levels is needed. It also cannot ignore how even the most optimistic emissions trajectory will significantly alter the frequency and magnitude of many hazards.
- Conflict, fragility and insecurity are not treated sufficiently, threatening the viability of achieving the five proposed global targets. This is a fundamental oversight as for many contexts conflict, fragility and insecurity are fundamental underlying drivers of (natural hazard-related disaster) risk and vulnerability. Until explicit recognition is given to the need to adequately tailor DRR approaches to such fragile and conflict-affected states, of the need for different constellations of actors, and an appropriate level of ambition, contexts of conflict, fragility and insecurity will not be adequately supported to achieve progress in DRR.
- There have been significant improvements in the consideration of environment in terms of emphasis on environmental impact assessments (EIA), sustainable development, environmental sciences, and ecosystem functions and services in reducing risk. Improvements should involve including more detailed ecosystem-based measures, recognition of community-based approaches and integration of EIA and risk assessment combined with strategic environmental assessment of plans and policies.
- Vulnerability and Inclusion: The zero draft explicitly promotes the integration of a gender, age, disability and cultural perspective into DRR, and there is greater recognition of the need to tailor activities to the ‘needs of users, including social and cultural requirements’. Nevertheless, it still misses language and requirements that would help create/enforce stronger accountability for action on social inclusion and adequate attention to social vulnerability (including within the monitoring process).
- Finance needs to be articulated more clearly across the priorities for action. The document lacks a strong financial orientation, mainly due to the absence of commitments at national and international level. Systematic inclusion of financial commitments and instruments at all scales and within each of the priority areas is required to support the implementation of an adequate system to finance action, particularly in countries most in need.
- While the inclusion of positive text on the role of science and technology is very welcomed, the lack of detail on ways implementation can be scaled up must be addressed, and the somewhat bizarre references to the work of the UNISDR STAG and the work on terminology must be rethought.
- Stakeholders: Non-government stakeholders are given higher priority in the zero draft but more is needed on the specific roles, responsibilities and incentives for state and non-state actors. There must be recognition that the state is not monolithic and local governments are often responsible for critical risk reduction activities. These roles should also be embedded in the priority areas and not just in a separate section.
- The section on international cooperation and global partnerships is surprisingly thin on detail, failing to sufficiently cover the key roles of bilateral donors, multi-lateral development banks, UN agencies, regional bodies, the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery/World Bank, private sector bodies, city associations, parliaments and a new architecture for monitoring progress and guiding standards. Additionally, while it is difficult to contest the centrality of UNISDR in facilitating co-ordination efforts on the post-2015 framework for DRR, the current focus on UNISDR to the exclusion of other key international actors is entirely out of balance. Our detailed feedback gives particular attention to formulating a more complete means of implementation.
*The author team for this review is Tom Mitchell, Katie Peters, Emma Lovell, Aditya Bahadur, Elizabeth Carabine, Lindsey Jones, Virginie Le Masson, Catherine Simonet and Emily Wilkinson. Please send all correspondence to Tom Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org.