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2019

15/02/2019
By Mami MizutoriGENEVA, 15 February, 2019 - The decision by Vale, the world’s largest manufacturer of iron ore, to decommission ten of its tailings dams in Brazil is welcome, but it will seem too little, and too late, for those who have lost loved ones and seen their environments destroyed by the failures of such structures. Tailings dam failures over the last five years have made the headlines in Canada, Mexico, Brazil, China, the USA and Israel.  Not all have resulted in loss of life, but the damage to the environment has been extensive and raises enormous questions and safety concerns over what conditions are like at the world’s 30,000 industrial mines. In 2001, the International Commission on Large Dams issued its report “Tailings Dams: Risk of Dangerous Occurrences”, which examined 221 failures. It found all of them could have been avoided. The technical knowledge exists to build and maintain safe facilities. As a recent UN Environment Programme assessment put it: “an inadequate commitment to safe storage combined with poor management was the cause of most failures.” It remains to be seen if the investigation now underway by Vale and the Brazilian authorities discovers any other factors in the failure in critical infrastructure at the Córrego de Feijão mine in Brumadinho, Brazil which has likely claimed hundreds of lives. Since the 2001 landmark report, one other risk factor for the mining industry has come into sharp relief and that is climate change. The increasing variability in global weather systems, including rainfall patterns, floods and storms, must be factored into disaster risk management at any mining site. Another fundamental concern is to ensure that disaster risk governance is at the forefront of the mining industry’s approach. The safety and well-being of their employees and of the people living in surrounding communities must be paramount. It must not be profit at all costs – or indeed at any cost.   Risk-informed decision making needs to be the norm. The Brumadinho disaster follows the 2015 Mariana disaster at a facility co-owned by Vale and BHP Billiton which was ranked as Brazil’s worst environmental disaster. Nineteen people died as a tidal mass of tailings slurry was released, destroying the village of Bento Rodrigues; traveling 620 kms to the Atlantic Ocean and laying waste to entire fish populations, 1,400 hectares of forest and 663 kms of water works. That kind of forensic detail is not yet available on the damage done by last weekend’s disaster but the long-term consequences for the habitat and the affected communities are likely to be great. Vale CEO, Fabio Schvartsman, has said that the company has created a working group to raise the safety standard of the company’s dams. This will not satisfy public opinion. Inadequate risk governance is a key driver and enabler of disasters and until there is proper and adequate regulatory oversight of these facilities, public confidence in their safety will not be restored. It is time that the recommendations made in 2001 were implemented. Further recommendations from the UN Environment Programme should also be taken into account, including a safety first approach regardless of cost. The global plan for reducing disaster losses, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, seeks to not only establish concrete ways in which critical infrastructure can be risk-proofed, but also exert influence with both governments and the private sector to banish complacency around the technological and environmental threats posed by such facilities. I would urge the thousands of communities living with this potential threat to ensure their voices are heard and concerns are captured in both national and local strategies for reducing disaster risk. One way the mining industry could facilitate this would be by helping to establish an open database of mine sites and tailings storage facilities. This would be a fitting and lasting way for all concerned to remember those who have lost their lives in such disasters and to demonstrate that the mining industry is not just paying lip service to a zero casualty policy. *Mami Mizutori is the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction. This opinion piece was first published in the leading Brazilian daily newspaper Folha de S. Paulo. 
04/02/2019
By Yuki MatsuokaKOBE, 4 February 2019 - Organizations working on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) have started to log their voluntary commitments in support of the Sendai Framework - the global roadmap for reducing disaster losses by 2030 - in a new online platform https://sendaicommitments.unisdr.org/ More than 50 users have registered in the first few weeks of operation. In addition, the platform has already received the first submissions of voluntary commitments by organizations working in DRR. In close coordination with these organizations, UNISDR reviews the submissions before publishing them in the platform. Ms. Mami Mizutori, Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Disaster Risk Reduction, said: “An all-of-society approach leaves no one out when it comes to building society’s resilience to disasters. Thus, it is encouraging to witness the efforts and interest in DRR by individuals and their organizations from diverse backgrounds such as private sector, civil society, academia, media, local governments, etc”. Prof. Rajib Shaw, Chair of the Science and Technology Advisory Group (STAG), said: “This new voluntary commitment online system is a very effective, and easy to understand tool.  The tool helps us not only to remind [us] on our commitments and deliverables, it also gives us an opportunity to share widely the commitments to other related stakeholders regionally and globally.  “In the post Sendai regime, disaster risk reduction is a responsibility of all, and it is the collective efforts which help us achieving resilient communities and nations.  Thus, I strongly urge my fellow colleagues to use this very important tool and keep a track of our great work through stronger commitments." The SFVC online platform is open continuously for submissions. However, commitments submitted by 15 February 2019 will be included in the first SFVC Analysis Report to be presented at the Global Platform 2019 in Geneva. In the following weeks the first commitments will be published and highlighted in the platform.
28/01/2019
By Omar AmachBANGKOK, 28 January 2019 – In partnership with the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center, the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) launched on 24 January an online learning course on the use of the Sendai Framework Monitor. This free online course is available to all Member States to guide officials on how to prepare and upload national and local data to the Sendai Framework Monitor. Since March 2018, Member States can report on their progress in implementing the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, and the disaster risk-related indicators of the Sustainable Development Goals, by using the online Sendai Framework Monitor.   By reporting through the Sendai Framework Monitor, countries are able to assess and track their progress in reducing their disaster risk by examining how well they have done on a number of indicators. Moreover, this information is used to support regional and global analyses of Sendai implementation, which is critical to identifying needs and gaps.  Since the launch of the Monitor, the UNISDR Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific has conducted five regional and five national training workshops. As a result, a total of 30 countries in the region have received training last year on the use of the Sendai Framework Monitor. “We developed this course because the demand for UNISDR training and support is increasing, and an online course is a great way of meeting some of the demand,” explained Ms. Loretta Hieber Girardet, Chief of UNISDR Asia-Pacific. UNISDR is in the process of developing other virtual educational tools to increase its reach and ability to provide capacity building in an efficient manner. One course currently in development is around the use of DesInventar Sendai, an information management system for creating and updating disaster loss databases, which are an important component of understanding disaster risk. This course was developed with support from the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
24/01/2019
GENEVA, 24 January, 2019 –  Earthquakes and tsunamis accounted for the majority of the 10,373 lives lost in disasters last year while extreme weather events accounted for most of 61.7 million people affected by natural hazards, according to analysis of 281 events recorded by the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) in its EM-DAT (International Disaster Database). Mami Mizutori, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, said: “No part of the globe was spared from the impact of extreme weather events last year. Examined floods, droughts, storms and wildfires affected 57.3 million people, underlining once more that if we want to reduce disaster losses, then we must improve how we manage disaster risk.    “Time is running out for limiting global warming to 1.5˚C or 2˚C. We have to be equally active about climate change adaptation which means reducing disaster risk in our cities, avoiding the creation of new risk by better land use, stronger planning regulations and building codes, safeguarding protective eco-systems, reducing poverty, and taking active measures to reduce exposure to rising sea levels.” The 2018 toll of 10,373 lives lost compares with an annual average of 77,144 deaths recorded between 2000 and 2017, averages which are inflated by large-scale loss of life in catastrophic events such as the Indian Ocean tsunami (2004), Cyclone Nargis (2008) and the Haitian earthquake (2010). There were no such mega-disasters in 2018 but loss of life from major natural hazards appears to be on the decline likely due to improving standards of living and better disaster risk management. Seismic activity including earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic activity disrupted the lives of 3.4 million people last year and claimed more lives than any other hazard type, including Indonesia (4,417), Guatemala (425) and Papua New Guinea (145). Floods continued to affect the largest number of people, 35.4 million people, including 23 million people in Kerala, India.  They caused 2,859 deaths including India (504), Japan (220), Nigeria (199), and Korea DPR (151). Storms affected 12.8 million people last year and caused a recorded 1,593 deaths. It is anticipated that storms, particularly due to hurricanes Florence (14 billion USD) and Michael (16 billion USD) and typhoon Jebi (12.5 billion USD), will be the costliest type of disaster of 2018 once final economic losses are compiled. Wildfires in Europe and North America claimed a record number of lives as Greece (126) had the deadliest European wildfire on record, and the United States (88) had its deadliest wildfire in over a century, and costliest wildfire on record (estimated 16.5 billion USD).   The CRED statistics highlight that 9.3 million people were affected by drought worldwide, including Kenya (3 million), Afghanistan (2.2 million), and Central America (2.5 million), including migration hotspots Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua. Insufficient reporting from drought and extreme temperatures events hinder a better understanding of these events worldwide. Debarati Guha-Sapir, head of CRED at UCLouvain, said: “The impact of all disasters, particularly drought and extreme temperatures are notoriously poorly reported, especially from low-income countries. The human impact of these events, are difficult to quantify, but it needs to be done urgently, especially in order to report on specific SDG target indicators. Therefore, innovative approaches that measure progress in resilience and the adaptive capacity of communities needs to be addressed by appropriate UN agencies.” UN member States are committed to reducing disaster losses and implementing the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030), the global plan for reducing disaster losses which has a clear focus on reducing mortality and the numbers of disaster affected people, as well as reducing associated economic losses and damage to critical infrastructure.   Death Toll by Disaster Type (2018 vs. average 21st Century) Event 2018 Average (2000-2017) Drought 0 1,361 Earthquake 4,321 46,173 Extreme temperature 536 10,414 Flood 2,859 5,424 Landslide 282 929 Mass movement (dry) 17 20 Storm 1,593 12,722 Volcanic activity 878 31 Wildfire 247 71 Total 10,733 77,144 Source: EM-DAT (International Disaster Database)   Top 10 Countries by Number of People Affected (2018)   Country Total Number of People Affected 1. India 23,900,348 2. Philippines 6,490,216 3. China 6,415,024 4. Nigeria 3,938,204 5. Guatemala 3,291,359 6. Kenya 3,211,188 7. Afghanistan 2,206,750 8. USA 1,762,103 9. Japan 1,599,497 10. Madagascar 1,472,190 Source: EM-DAT (International Disaster Database)   Top 10 Countries by Total Death Toll (2018)   Country Total Death Toll 1. Indonesia 4,535 2. India 1,388 3. Guatemala 427 4. Japan 419 5. China 341 6. Nigeria 300 7. United States of America 298 8. Pakistan 240 9. Korea DPR 237 10. Philippines 221 Source: EM-DAT (International Disaster Database)   Total Number of People Affected by Disaster Type (2018 vs. average 21st Century) Event 2018  Average (2000-2017)   Drought 9,368,345 58,734,128   Earthquake 1,517,138 6,783,729   Extreme temperature 396,798 6,368,470   Flood 35,385,178 86,696,923   Landslide 54,908 263,831   Mass movement (dry) 0 286   Storm 12,884,845 34,083,106   Volcanic activity 1,908,770 169,308   Wildfire 256,635 19,243   Total 61,772,617 193,312,310   Source: EM-DAT (International Disaster Database) Total Deaths Tolls by Year (21st Century) Year Death Toll Major Events (5000+ Deaths) 2000 9,609   2001 30,844 Gujarat Earthquake 2002 12,124   2003 109,827 Bam Earthquake, European Heatwave 2004 242,765 Indian Ocean Earthquake 2005 88,673 Kashmir Earthquake 2006 24,239 Java Earthquake 2007 16,960   2008 235,256 Cyclone Nargis, Sichuan Earthquake 2009 10,672   2010 297,140 Haiti Earthquake, Russian Heatwave, Somalia Drought 2011 51,434 Japan Earthquake 2012 10,319   2013 21,859 North India Floods, Typhoon Haiyan 2014 7,993   2015 22,774 Nepal Earthquake 2016 8,512   2017 9,734   2018 10,733   Total 1,221,465   Source: EM-DAT (International Disaster Database)
10/01/2019
By Omar H. AmachBANGKOK, 10 December 2019 – Early warning and early action helped ensure that tropical storm Pabuk, which struck the southern region of Thailand last week from 3 to 5 January, passed with limited loss of life. The storm, however, caused high economic losses and considerable damage to critical infrastructure, including schools and hospitals. Warnings were first issued on 1 January, when Pabuk was still a tropical depression. By the time the storm made landfall, Thai authorities had evacuated about 30,000 people living in the coastal districts into shelters. They also suspended flights and ferry services, raised red warning flags on the beach to ban swimming, and advised fishermen to stay ashore. According to Thailand’s Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department, Pabuk affected 212,784 people across 2,635 villages in 18 provinces. Seven people were reportedly killed, two of whom were volunteers who died during rescue missions. The casualty figures could have been much higher if not for the government’s preparedness and early actions. Ahead of the storm, many worried of a repeat of tropical storm Harriet, which killed around 900 people in 1962. “Even though this storm was very powerful and comparable to tropical storm Harriet, a good weather forecast system, as well as an advance disaster warning and evacuation, ensured there were only a few casualties,” said Seri Supharatid, Director of Rangsit University’s Centre on Climate Change and Disaster, in an interview with Thailand’s The Nation newspaper. After the storm passed, the most affected areas in southern Thailand continued to struggle with flooding, uprooted trees, downed electric poles, and flattened fruit plantations. Moreover, since the storm struck Thailand during its peak tourism season, it threatened the livelihoods of thousands who depend on income from tourism. While there is no official estimate yet of the total amount of damage, the Thai Chamber of Commerce’s Centre for Economic and Business Forecasting, estimates economic losses at around 150 million U.S. Dollars. This reinforces a trend seen elsewhere in the region, where improvements in early warning systems and disaster response have resulted in fewer deaths, but the economic cost of disasters continues to rise due to more people and economic activity being concentrated in in high-risk coastal areas. According to the Bangkok Post, Pabuk damaged around 435 schools and up to 29 public hospitals: At Pak Panang Hospital the flooding reached as high as one meter within a few hours, local authorities said. The hospital’s power generator reportedly broke down, forcing doctors to marshal soldiers into an emergency rescue situation as they ferried eight patients in serious condition to another hospital nearby. Hospitals, critical infrastructure, and public service facilities play an important role in recovery and rehabilitation efforts after a disaster, which is why the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction - the global plan for reducing disaster losses - includes target (d) which seeks a substantial reduction in damage to critical infrastructure. This target will be a key area of focus for UNISDR advocacy in  2019. Thailand is moving to implement target (e) of the Sendai Framework which seeks a substantial increase in the number of countries with national and local strategies for disaster risk reduction by 2020.   To meet this target, the Government of Thailand asked UNISDR to organize a multi-agency national workshop to support the revision of its current National Disaster Risk Management Plan, which was developed in 2015, to align it with the Sendai Framework. This national workshop will take place in Bangkok, Thailand, from 14-16 January. Having a Sendai Framework aligned national disaster risk reduction strategy is critical to informing how a country assesses its risks, develops its plans and allocates resources to implement disaster risk reduction measures. The strategy also ensures that a multi-stakeholder approach is adopted, and more importantly, that all members of society, especially the most vulnerable, are protected from the most negative effects of disasters.

2018

20/12/2018
By Rahul SenguptaBonn, 9 December 2018 – The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, UNISDR, has held a technical forum to support monitoring of the Sendai Framework for Risk Reduction, the global plan for reducing disaster loss. The event, recently held at the UN Campus office in Bonn, provided participants an opportunity to learn more about data collection and reporting requirements regarding the implementation of the Sendai Framework as well as to discuss and review relevant issues including coherence of the Sendai Framework with other global agendas such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. A total of 73 participants from 40 countries attended. The majority of them were from government, representing the Sendai Framework Focal Point Organization and a number of other institutions. Participants hailed from all part of the world ranging from Tonga in the Pacific to Barbados in the Caribbean. They represented institutions at the global, national and local level and included both senior leaders and technical staff. Speaking at the opening, Mami Mizutori, Special Representative of the Secretary General for Disaster Risk Reduction and head of UNISDR, said: “The development of the Sendai Framework Monitor, now in the third phase, already embeds Analytical module for validated data which allows the users to track trends and make comparisons across Regions, countries, targets and indicators. “After the completion of two reporting milestones this year, this Technical Forum is a great opportunity to take stock, discuss lessons learned, find where the gaps are and improve what we are doing,” said Ms Mizutori. Hon. Jutta Schmitz, Ambassador Liaison Office for the UN Campus from the Bonn Federal Foreign Office of Germany, commented: “Unfortunately, in many countries including Germany, there are still gaps in disaster-related data and national loss accounting systems. These gaps need to be filled as soon as possible to enable proper planning and monitoring.” Also speaking at the opening, Mr. Thomas Helfen, Head of Division Peace and Security - Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany, highlighted the important links between implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and other key development agendas and processes, especially the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
20/12/2018
By Yuki MatsuokaKobe, 20 December 2018 – A new initiative by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction will log voluntary commitments by partners working on the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the global roadmap for reducing disaster losses by 2030. By logging commitments in an open and accessible platform, stakeholders can inform the public about their work while identifying crossover with others in the field and potential partners with whom to collaborate to maximise impact. In turn, UNISDR can monitor and take stock of the work done to increase the effectiveness of stakeholders’ shared responsibility towards Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR). All submissions of voluntary commitments can be made online at https://sendaicommitments.unisdr.org/ starting from 31 December 2018. Even though the online platform is open for submission all year round, commitments submitted by 15 February 2019 will be included in the Analysis Report to be presented during the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction held in Geneva in May 2019. The 2015 World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR), conducted in Sendai – Japan, identified the State as having the primary responsibility but also underlined the shared responsibility of stakeholders for DRR. As a result, member states called for specific and time-bound voluntary commitments by stakeholders at local, national, regional and global levels in line with DRR strategies and plans to support the implementation of the Sendai Framework. All stakeholders (private sector, civil society organizations, academia, media, local governments, etc.) working on DRR can submit their commitments. Before making a submission, we invite stakeholders to read the Guidelines (to be available online shortly) which contains explanations on how to submit and follow-up on commitments. While only individuals representing institutional entities can submit VCs, account holders and the general public can search information, subscribe for notifications based on their interest and share information in social networks or other platforms. A number of organizations made commitments before and during the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) in 2015. Since then, significant progress has been made with their initiatives. In addition to being open for brand-new commitments, the online platform recognize commitments previously announced. For more information, please contact us at unisdr-sendai-vc@un.org or visit the on-line platform https://sendaicommitments.unisdr.org/.  
19/12/2018
By Yuki MatsuokaTokyo, 19 December 2018 –  The world must overcome “its desire to forget’ was the message from a leading Japanese advocate for tsunami risk awareness at the 2nd World Tsunami Museum Conference. Member of the House of Representatives, Mr. Teru Fukui, spoke of Japan’s national resilience movement, and extending the movement to the rest of the world. Mr. Fukui emphasized the importance of investment in infrastructure to reduce human and economic losses caused by tsunami and associated disasters, a key target of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the global plan for reducing disaster losses. “The lessons learned from disasters should be imprinted into our genes and we must overcome our desire to forget”, he told the gathering of 156 participants from 17 countries. In welcome remarks, the Executive Director of the Tokyo National Museum, Mr. Masami Zeniya, highlighted the roles of museums in post-disaster recovery of cultural heritage as well as in “passing down the memories of damages caused by tsunamis to future generations’’. Representatives from 5.12 Wenchuan Earthquake Memorial Museum Management Center; Tsunami Museum (Aceh) Indonesia; and Okushiri Isle Museum from Hokkaido in Japan shared their challenges and best practices by reflecting on the years of experiences since their museums’ establishment. Sendai City, the epicentre of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, recently established the Arahama Elementary School as a museum.  Ms. Kazuko Kohri, Mayor of Sendai, emphasised that it was the “mission of Sendai City to share memories and make sure these efforts will not be forgotten.” Speakers recognized a challenge to educate youth and children who do not have direct tsunami and earthquake experiences. Ms. Hafnidar, Head, Tsunami Museum (Aceh) in Indonesia emphasized the importance of making a museum a center of inclusiveness and shared her wish to increase further the number of young visitors. They also noted that the network established at World Tsunami Museum Conferences can be capitalized on to exchange ideas, material, and assets through ICT and other technologies. Building upon the 1st World Tsunami Museum Conference, held in November 2017, in Okinawa, the 2nd World Tsunami Museum Conference took place in Tokyo on 30 November, 2018. The conference attracted approximately 156 participants from 17 countries. Speakers included representatives from (tsunami) museums, universities, municipalities, and government agencies from Japan, China, Chile, Indonesia and UNESCO. Held back-to-back with the 66th National Convention of Museum, closing remarks were offered by Mr. Johei Sasaki, Executive Director of the Kyoko National Museum, highlighting the need for a cross-sectoral approach and the concept of “museums as cultural hubs”. The 2nd World Tsunami Museum Conference was organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) of Japan, ERIA, and UNISDR Office in Japan. Cooperation was provided by IRIDeS, Tohoku University. The conference was hosted at the Tokyo National Museum. Participants came from Benin, China, Chile, Republic of Congo, Haiti, Indonesia, Iran, Jamaica, Japan, Republic of Korea, Guatemala, Maldives, Mexico, Moldova, Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Uganda,
18/12/2018
By Ragy SaroBEIRUT, 18 December 2018 - Resilient sustainable development is only possible through an all-of-society approach. This was the sentiment that echoed through the Second Arab Partnership Meeting for Disaster Risk Reduction held in Lebanon. The two-day meeting brought together more than 35 stakeholders and partners from across the Arab region representing children and youth, elderly, local communities, academia, science and technology practitioners, international and regional organizations, and the United Nations. “It really is encouraging to see how the commitment of stakeholders is turning them into true agents of change towards implementing disaster risk reduction across the Arab region,” said Sujit Mohanty, Chief of UNISDR Regional Office for Arab States as he welcomed participants. UNISDR provides a platform to enhance cooperation and collaboration between national governments, developing partnerships and enhancing coherence in the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2030, the global plan for reducing disaster risk. Currently, there are five self-organized stakeholder groups in the Arab region focusing on disaster risk reduction: the Arab Science and Technology Advisory Group; the Arab DRR Children & Youth Group; the Arab DRR Civil Society Group; the Arab Gender Equality and Women Empowerment Group; and the Arab Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies. All these groups have delivered their voluntary action statements in support of the implementation of the Sendai Framework and the Arab Strategy for DRR 2030. “It is extremely true that alone we could do so little, but together we could do so much,” said Ghada Ahamdein who is representing the Arab Civil Society Stakeholder Group. “Effective partnerships are the core of success for civil society organizations as they play a major role in the implementation of the Sendai Framework,” Ms Ahamdein added. The group has already started putting together a concrete work plan that will kick start the implementation of the voluntary action statement, enriched with contributions from civil organizations representatives from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Mauritania, Sudan, Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. Other stakeholder groups have also stepped up their work plans including the most recent active group representing children and youth who are calling for stronger engagement in the policy and the implementation of the Sendai Framework. “We make up a huge portion of the society and we are giving it 100%, disaster risk reduction practitioners and policy makers should utilize our capacities and empower us,” concluded Marwa Menshawy who represents the United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth in the Arab region. The 2nd Arab Partnership Meeting for Disaster Risk Reduction was organized by UNISDR and brought together representatives from FAO, UNESCWA, ITU, Helpage, AUDI, UNMGCY, WHO, IFRC, Arab Water Council, in addition to members of the stakeholder groups. 
18/12/2018
By Omar AmachBANGKOK, 18 December, 2018 – The Asia Pacific region needs to accelerate progress on increasing the number of national and local disaster risk reduction strategies if they are to reach the first target of the Sendai Framework by 2020. This was a key conclusion of a two-day workshop in Bangkok, Thailand, convened by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).  The gathering brought over 115 participants from 20 governments, intergovernmental organizations, national and regional UN entities, stakeholder groups and international organizations to review progress to date on Target E of the Sendai Framework. Target E, which calls for a significant increase in the number of national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020, is the first milestone of the Sendai Framework, adopted in 2015.  Speaking at the opening of the workshop, the newly appointed Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana stressed the importance of DRR to achieving development goals, saying: “Disasters keep children out of school and adults out of work. They entrench poverty. Strengthening our response in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction is essential in the world’s most disaster-prone region.” An analysis carried out by UNISDR revealed that more than half of the countries in the region have developed national strategies aligned with the Sendai Framework, however, implementation and financing of these strategies is lagging. Participants were unanimous in their call for more local DRR strategies, but also noted that insufficient capacity and financial resources at the sub-national and local levels are hindering progress. “Target E is the first milestone of Sendai Framework and this workshop is a call for collaboration, consolidation of efforts and commitment to ensure that all countries have national and local strategies to guide their actions to reduce the impact of and prevent disasters,” said Loretta Hieber Girardet, Chief of the UNISDR Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. The workshop reiterated the importance of countries collecting and using disaster risk information to inform strategy development.  Participants heard that most of the risk information currently available to countries is informed by past disasters whereas the disasters of the future could be of a different nature and intensity due to climate change.  Throughout the region, an investment in disaster loss databases and capacity-strengthening is required to meet the data requirements of the future.  The workshop provided an opportunity for governments including Indonesia, Bangladesh, Mongolia, and Pakistan to share innovative DRR financing solutions. For example, through a $200 million loan from the Asian Development Bank and grants from Switzerland and Australia, Pakistan established its National Disaster Risk Management Fund to support projects that enhance disaster resilience. The Fund will finance up to 70 percent of the costs of eligible projects and will start dispersing resources in January 2019. In Bangladesh, the government has pursued a coherent approach that funds both DRR and climate change. Disaster risk management activities are part of the Bangladesh Climate Change Strategic Action Plan, and the annual budget provides for dedicated funds from for the Disaster Risk Reduction Fund.  “We are trying to promote mechanisms for disaster risk transfer, insurance, risk-sharing, and retention ... in order to reduce the financial impact of disasters on governments and societies, in urban and rural areas,” said Md. Shahriar Kader Siddiky, Joint Secretary at the Bangladesh Ministry of Finance. A recommendation many echoed is the need to sensitize decision makers, especially donors and development actors, to the value of investing in disaster risk reduction. Several participants emphasized that opportunities for integrating DRR into sectoral strategies should also be actively pursued, while noting that coordination across sectors remains an institutional challenge.   A recurrent theme at the workshop was the need to ensure that national and local strategies are designed to guarantee no-one is left behind in disasters. The achievement of Target E across the region is an opportunity to promote pro-poor, gender-responsive strategies that seek to reduce the impact of disasters on the most vulnerable and marginalised. There was also a wide consensus that for resilience to prevail in the Asia Pacific region, the development and implementation of national and local DRR strategies must be fully aligned with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the Sustainable Development Goals. This workshop was made possible thanks to generous support from the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development.

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