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By Denis McCleanGENEVA, 6 December, 2018 - The Philippines is emerging as a role model for engaging the private sector in building resilience to disasters under the leadership of Hans Sy, the executive chairman of SM Prime Holdings Inc. Mr. Sy announced last week the launch of SM Prime’s Business Continuity Program Facility which targets small and medium size enterprises exposed to business disruption following a disaster. “This facility will serve as their back-up or redundant set-up to recover and restore important data as part of their business continuity and disaster recovery plans,” he said. Mr. Sy is co-chair of the National Resilience Council and has played a leading role in establishing the national ARISE group in the Philippines. ARISE is the global private sector alliance for disaster risk reduction promoted by UNISDR. The strength of ARISE Philippines was acknowledged by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, Mami Mizutori, who spoke at the recent 7th Top Leaders Forum in Manila, which brought together the private and public sector to discuss “Building a Culture of Resilience Through Public-Private Partnership.” Ms. Mizutori said: “These Top Leaders Forum meetings have acquired a reputation as an example to others of what can be achieved by bringing together key players in a national economy to focus on building resilience to disasters. “In particular, it is good to see the worlds of politics and business coming together to accelerate implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction here in the Philippines.” Ms. Mizutori who co-chairs the global ARISE board, also highlighted the importance of the work on resilience being carried out by the cities represented at the meeting. She cited the work of the National Resilience Council (NRC) in adapting a localized Scorecard from the Disaster Resilience Scorecard developed for UNISDR’s 4,000 strong Making Cities Resilient Campaign. “We have with us today local government representatives from seven cities which have been using it and I look forward to hearing more about how it is aiding their efforts to reduce disaster risk,” Ms. Mizutori said. Local government representatives were participating in Top Leaders Forum for the first time. These included Gov. Albert Garcia of Bataan Province, Mayor John Bongat of Naga City, Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco of Zamboanga City, Mayor Oscar Moreno of Cagayan De Oro, Mayor Madelaine Alfelor of Iriga City, and Mayor Richard Gomez of Ormoc City who gave an insight into progress on tackling urban risk. Dale Sands, co-chair ARISE, also attended the Top Leaders Forum which he described as “a unique gathering of public and private sector decision makers to further progress disaster risk reduction in the Philippines.” Mr. Sands said: “So many excellent presentations were delivered of progress made and good practices to be shared in both the public sector and the private sector, and in building public/private sector partnerships such as the National Resilience Council, supported by ARISE Philippines." The meeting was also attended by Secretary Delfin Lorenzana of the Department of National Defense and co-chair of NRC representing Government, Senator Loren Legarda, a well-known advocate for disaster risk reduction and Dr Weisen Li of APEC Emergency Preparedness Capacity Building Center, Taiwan.
GENEVA, 4 December, 2018 – The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) today launched the Implementation Guide for Man-made and Technical Hazards in response to the growing number and magnitude of man-made disasters worldwide. UNISDR Director, Kirsi Madi, speaking at the launch - hosted by HE Vojislav Šuc, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Slovenia - said: “Major technological accidents such as the Bhopal gas tragedy in 1984, the Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986, and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, clearly illustrate the urgent need to tackle these hazards within the overall frame of inclusive disaster risk management.” Ms. Madi also cited how technological disasters can ensue from a natural hazard event “in which industrial or other facilities are damaged as was the case in Japan following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami which led to the Fukushima nuclear meltdown.” The guide is the latest in the “Words into Action” series launched by UNISDR to support implementation of the global plan to reduce disaster losses, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, which expanded the traditional remit of disaster risk management beyond natural hazards such as earthquakes, floods, storms and drought to include “man-made hazards, as well as related environmental, technological and biological hazards and risks.” The implementation guide was developed in collaboration with the Joint Unit of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) with expertise and inputs from many other partners. Rudolf Müller, OCHA Chief of Emergency Services Branch, acknowledged UNECE’s contribution to the challenges of managing industrial accidents through the Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents. Mr. Müller praised the guide as a contribution “to strengthen national and local disaster management plans, to support training and capacity building and to raise awareness of the risks and impacts of man-made and technological disasters.”
By Jeanette ElsworthGeneva, 4 December 2018 – The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) has launched a new mechanism for engaging with partners in implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. The mechanism, which recognizes the need for a multi-sectoral approach to disaster risk reduction, was launched at a partners meeting held in UNISDR’s headquarters in Geneva. Speaking at the launch, Director of UNISDR, Kirsi Madi, highlighted the inextricable link between the objectives of the Sendai Framework and the other post-2015 development agendas, namely the Paris Agenda on Climate Action, the New Urban Agenda, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which provides the overarching vision of ending poverty and leaving no one behind. “Sustainable development will not be possible if we are not effectively reducing disaster and climate risk,” said Ms. Madi. The UNISDR Strategic Engagement Mechanism is a direct response to more cohesive action towards the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, which calls for “a broader and a more people-centred preventive approach to disaster risk.” This new approach aims to be a structured but open and flexible way to specifically engage with different stakeholders and a process that brings partners together. Ms. Madi thanked participants for taking time to attend the meeting and emphasised that between them they would make up the Stakeholder Advisory Board. Members expressed their appreciation for the genuinely participatory approach, particularly in UNISDR’s recognition of their advisory role and the aim for DRR to permeate all development discussions. The launch of the Stakeholder Engagement Mechanism is timely given the next Global Platform in May 2019 to be held in Geneva will bring partners together to assess progress towards the Sendai Framework. The theme will be The Resilience Dividend: Towards Sustainable and Inclusive Societies.
By Jeanette ElsworthGeneva, 26 November 2018 – The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) has called for innovative ideas and approaches for DRR to be showcased at its most prominent conference, the Global Platform. The 2019 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction will be the first to feature a dedicated Innovation Platform. The aim is to attract, showcase and display applications of new and innovative approaches in disaster risk reduction. Innovation proposals can be related to a number of areas, such as new methodologies to implement disaster risk reduction, or the use of new technology, innovative awareness-raising or educational activities. In addition to the Innovation Platform itself, innovation at the conference will be explored through a series of activities that include an exhibit, a public performance, training and the emphasis of innovation as a cross-cutting concept throughout the sessions. The objective of this is to create an environment conducive to awareness-raising, behaviour change, as well as to ensure inter-disciplinary cross-fertilization of ideas, and to reach out beyond the more specialized DRR community so that new partnerships can evolve. Calls for proposals to the Innovation Platform are open from now until 15 January 2019.
By Denis McCleanROME, 23 November, 2018 - Earthquakes and tsunamis kill more people than any other natural hazard and an Italian based initiative to reduce seismic risk was recognized last night with a major award at the European Forum for Disaster Risk Reduction. The Global Earthquake Model (GEM) has carried out seismic risk assessments in over 150 countries since it was established in 2009 as a non-profit foundation in Pavia with the support of over 30 sponsors including governments and insurance companies. John Schneider, GEM Secretary-General accepted the Damir Čemerin Award from the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, Mami Mizutori, at a ceremony in Rome. He used the occasion to provide the audience with a sneak preview of new set of global earthquake risk maps which provide an overview of risk through a mosaic of models made at national and reigonal level and assembled globally using the unique OpenQuake platform. “To me GEM is a program that is very much needed. It uniquely combines science, engineering, and social science, but it is also pushing the boundaries in the development of methodologies, tools, and open data in a true integration of information, making it available for the common good," said Mr. Schneider. “GEM is also a bridge between academic science and genuine applications for decision making in disaster risk reduction. Operating at a global scale, the organisation fills a unique niche between research and application - and the world needs more organisations that do that,” he said. Ms. Mizutori said: “GEM is a wonderful example of how innovative use of technology can help to reduce disaster risk worldwide. GEM’s OpenQuake web-based platform is the result of a fully collaborative policy of data and tool sharing using open source software for the assessment of earthquake hazard and risk. ”Loss of life and economic loss from earthquakes can only be mitigated or prevented through disaster risk reduction efforts that include urban planning, improved regulation through building codes and compliance with those codes. This requires sound technical information to support the financial investments and governance measures required to reduce risk in the long term.” She added: “GEM is used by many countries for their assessments at national scale and thereby makes a great contribution to achieving the targets for reducing disaster losses as set out in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. Earthquake risk impacts mortality, the number of persons likely to be affected, economic losses and damage to critical infrastructure.” There have been 747,000 fatalities from earthquakes and tsunamis over the last twenty years, according to statistics maintained by the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) in its EM-DAT database. GEM was established following an initiative of the Global Science Forum promoted by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Its stated ambition is to become the world’s most complete source of risk resources and to set the globally accepted standard for seismic risk assessment by ensuring the availability of its products. The award is named after Mr. Damir Čemerin, a founder member of the European Forum for Disaster Risk Reduction, who died in 2013 after long service in support of disaster risk reduction in his home country of Croatia as well as globally.
By Denis McCleanROME, 23 November, 2018 - The Rome Declaration was adopted today by representatives of 55 countries at the close of the European Forum for Disaster Risk Reduction. The Declaration was read out by Italy’s Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Emanuela Claudia Del Re, at the closing ceremony and spells out the challenges and opportunities facing the region as it seeks to reduce disaster risk and disaster losses. In her closing remarks, Minister Del Re emphasized the importance of implementing the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction in coherence with the Paris Agreement on climate and the Sustainable Development Goals. The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, Mami Mizutori, welcomed the Rome Declaration as confirmation that the DRR community in Europe is united on key issues notably coherence and “the need for inclusion, gender equality and an all-of-society approach which leaves no one out when it comes to building society’s resilience to disasters.” Ms. Mizutori added: “And that includes the poor, migrants and those challenged by mobility and others whose needs are often overlooked in potential disaster zones.” The head of UNISDR’s Europe Office, Paola Albrito, noted again the presence of Italy’s Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte at the opening of the European Forum and welcomed this as an important statement of political commitment to disaster risk reduction. Ms. Albrito also said Europe was a particular source of innovation on disaster risk reduction especially in the area of pursuing measures for sustainable finance with greater emphasis on risk informed approaches to investment by the private sector. EU Commission representative, Nacira Boulehouat, praised the European Forum’s multi-stakeholder approach and the diverse range of participants. Ms. Boulehouat also welcomed the focus on disaster loss data collection for improving disaster risk management and promised continued support to implementation of the Sendai Framework both inside and outside the EU. Gianluca Silvestrini of the European Council, praised the high level of stakeholder engagement and called for greater participation of politicians in future European Forums. In his closing remarks, Angelo Borrelli, head of Italy’s Civil Protection Agency, highlighted the importance of good communication and coordination across government departments to enable faster response times to disasters and improved management of disaster risk. Mr. Borrelli also stressed the need to address the challenge of ageing infrastructure which is addressed in the Rome Declaration. At the closing ceremony it was announced that Portugal will host the next European Forum on Disaster Risk Reduction in 2020.
By Denis McCleanROME, 22 November, 2018 - Concerns were expressed today by European government representatives at a range of emerging risks threatening the region including pandemics, cyber-attacks, nuclear accidents and the escalating consequences of climate change. They came together in a high-level roundtable at the European Forum for Disaster Risk Reduction co-chaired by Edoardo Rixi, Italy’s Deputy Minister of Infrastructure and Transport and Mami Mizutori, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction. It was attended by representatives from 20 Countries, the Council of the Baltic Sea States, the European Commission and the World Bank. Malta’s Minister for the Interior, Michael Farrugia, said there was a need to take special measures for vectors of disease which were moving towards Europe because of climate change, and to upgrade measures to combat cyber attacks. “Humans can create situations worse than natural disasters,” he said. Similarly, Bulgaria’s Deputy Minister for Emergency Issues, Milko Berner, said that most disasters that are likely to happen have not happened yet and it is important to use science and technology to improve disaster risk management. Bulgaria was committed to improving collection of disaster loss data. Norway’s Deputy Minister for Justice and Public Security, Thor Settem, agreed that it was time to talk about issues that are not talked about so much including the threat of pandemics. There was a need at European and global level to tackle the potential disruption from cyber threats. Minister Settem also advocated stronger integration of disaster risk reduction into planning and construction processes at a much earlier stage with more collaboration between the public and private sectors. The head of Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority, AFAD, Mehmet Gulluoglu, said much of the work of disaster risk management needed to be done in collaboration with other ministries including health, education, environment and finance. He said that over 1,300 buildings in Istanbul had been renovated and rebuilt and more remained to be done. Summarizing the discussions, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, Mami Mizutori, said that political leadership was vital to accelerate the work of disaster risk reduction. Ms. Mizutori said she took on board the comments about new and emerging risks and pointed out that the Sendai Framework had extended disaster risk management beyond natural hazards to include human-made hazards. Minister Rixi highlighted the participants agreement to issue a Communique which emphasized the importance of disaster risk assessments as a prerequisite for infrastructure investments. At the same time, participants agreed to promote public and private risk-informed investments and capital flows while ensuring that the private sector is engaged in contributing to building resilience to disasters.
By Jeanette ElsworthGeneva, 22 November 2018 - Nominations for the 2019 Sasakawa Award are now open. The Award will recognize individuals, organizations and initiatives that have best contributed to ensuring inclusive, accessible and non-discriminatory participation in disaster risk reduction activities for all sections of society, especially the poor. “Many of those who are most vulnerable to losing their lives in a disaster can be very effective agents of change in their communities if they are engaged and actively involved in disaster risk management. They have insights into disaster risk which need to be captured if we are to meet the targets for reducing loss of life and economic losses set out in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction,” said Mami Mizutori, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Disaster Risk Reduction. “Despite significant progress in many countries in reducing disaster mortality, all too often it is people with reduced mobility or freedom of action including women, children, the elderly and persons living with disabilities who are most affected by disaster events,” Ms. Mizutori added. Jointly organized by UNISDR and the Nippon Foundation, the Sasakawa Award will give a maximum of US $50, 000 to one or more winners, during an official Award ceremony that will take place at the next Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Geneva, Switzerland from 15-17 May 2019. The deadline for nominations is 31 January 2019. Together with the World Health Organization Sasakawa Health Prize and the UN Environment Programme Sasakawa Environment Prize, the United Nations Sasakawa Award for Disaster Reduction is one of three prestigious prizes established in 1986 by founding Chairman of the Nippon Foundation, Mr. Ryoichi Sasakawa. To learn more about the Sasakawa Award and the nomimation process please go to: https://www.unisdr.org/we/campaign/sasakawa
By Brigitte LeoniMexico City, 21 November 2018. – Companies and businesses in Mexico have created a national Network of the Private Sector Alliance for Disaster Resilient Societies (ARISE) and agreed to work together to build a more resilient Mexico against disasters. Mexico ranks among the countries most exposed to disasters in Latin America and the fifth in terms of economic losses. The World Bank estimates that 30 per cent of the country’s GDP is considered to be at risk from three or more hazards and 71 per cent is at risk from two or more hazards. In September 2017, two powerful earthquakes cost nearly USD6 billion in combined economic losses, including major damage across Mexico City and were among the Mexico's costliest disasters. Created in 2015 in Geneva with more than 140 companies and businesses all over the world, ARISE seeks to reduce disaster risks through better and informed decision-making and a greater collaboration with the public sector. “Businesses are the first to be affected when disasters hit and the best partners to reduce risks if they are well informed and prepared. We welcome the creation of the Mexican Network of ARISE that will undoubtedly contribute to the development of more resilient and prosperous communities and the sustainable growth of this great country”, said Raúl Salazar, Head of the UNISDR Americas Office. The signature of the Mexican agreement took place during the "VII meeting of public-private partnerships for disaster risk reduction in Latin America and the Caribbean: Building Resilient Infrastructures” held in Mexico City and was signed by Luis Felipe Puente, National Coordinator of Civil Protection of SEGOB; Mr. Salazar, for UNISDR and the Board of Directors of ARISE Mexico. ARISE Mexico already includes a great number of Mexican companies and organizations such as; World Vision, LISE / C-MAX, CMIC / Fuerza México Trust, Communication Council, AXA, UNAM, UPS, INEGI, CANACEM, Jacobs, AECOM, and CEMEX, which will all work together to build a more resilient Mexico. "Companies have a direct influence on how a country can prevent and reduce disaster risks and can offer tangible solutions to increase community’s resilience," said Martha Herrera, Director of Social Corporate Responsibility at CEMEX, who will be acting as President of the ARISE network in Mexico until 2021. A recent UN report estimates that by 2030, economic losses caused by disasters could reach US$ 415 billion per year. Mexico is the fifth national ARISE network after Canada, Japan, the Philippines and the USA.
By Denis McCleanROME, 22 November, 2018 – The Prime Minister of Italy, Giuseppe Conte, today declared that “disaster risk reduction is fundamental for all governments” as he gave his keynote address at the opening of the European Forum for Disaster Risk Reduction. Over 800 representatives from 55 countries have registered for the two-day event which includes the countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus for the first time. “Italy has always believed in the strategy of the Sendai Framework. My presence here today proves that we believe in it. We must achieve a collaboration at national and European level to achieve its objectives,” he said in reference to the global plan for reducing disaster losses, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030. Mr. Conte outlined Italy’s disaster risk profile in graphic detail referring to Italy as the European country with the highest number of volcanoes and highlighting the threat posed by seismic activity to the country’s cultural heritage. He also spoke of ecological risk and the high incidence of floods and landslides across the country which resulted in the loss of 33 lives in recent weeks and impacted eleven regions. Drought conditions combined with sometimes criminal behavior was leading to forest fires. He also identified new risks created by building materials used in the past which rendered critical infrastructure and the country’s cultural heritage vulnerable to disasters. The country is spending heavily on response to disasters such as the recent Genoa bridge collapse which resulted in 43 deaths. He praised the work of the country’s National Civil Protection Agency and emphasized that “prevention more than ever must be the key word in our policies.” The Prime Minister also stressed that it was important to raise public awareness and this would be a key element in the implementation of a new national plan, particularly in outreach to schools through the Department of Education. The UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, Mami Mizutori, extended her condolences to the people and government of Italy for the tragic loss of life in recent extreme weather which resulted in floods and landslides causing large-scale damage and loss. “Alongside the devastating loss of loved ones, communities across the country are now struggling to build back better in the wake of large economic losses and damage to the environment and critical infrastructure,” Ms. Mizutori said. “A critical element in getting these strategies right is understanding how data can help to refine a country’s risk profile and inform disaster risk management policy. Disaster loss data bases now exist in 60% of countries in Europe and 32 countries have enacted legislation on disaster risk reduction in the context of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism,” she said. Ms. Mizutori observed that this was the first European Forum to take place since the launch of the Sendai Framework Monitor in March. “I hope that the next two days will encourage even greater use of the Monitor among countries represented here so that we ensure it reaches its full potential as a global resource for guiding policy and measuring progress in achieving the Sendai targets and the Sustainable Development Goals.” Following the opening ceremony, Prime Minister Conte and Special Representative Mizutori, took part in a 6.3 earthquake simulation exercise organised by Italy’s Civil Protection Agency as part of its education programme for the general public.