By Denis McClean
GENEVA, 7 February 2017 - The global state of disaster risk reduction will come under scrutiny as never before in May 2017, when 5,000 government and civil society representatives are expected in Cancun, Mexico, to assess progress on rolling back disaster risk and preventing the creation of new risk.
This will be the first opportunity to review implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 since its adoption two years ago at a World Conference in Sendai, Japan.
The 5th Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, hosted by the Mexican government, will also be the first opportunity for UN Member States and other stakeholders to assess their state of preparedness to achieve the Sendai Framework’s seven global targets now that indicators have been adopted by the UN General Assembly.
The Sendai Framework was the first agreement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda to be adopted and is now the first component for which indicators have been developed and adopted.
This clears the way for significant progress towards action on implementation at the Global Platform. The UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, Mr. Robert Glasser, has described the adoption of the indicators as “a giant step for accountability.”
The Sendai targets on reducing disaster losses including mortality, numbers of affected people, economic losses and damage to critical infrastructure now come with a series of clear definitions and details on how to measure success.
For example, the term “affected” is now defined as the number of injured or ill people attributed to disasters, whose damaged or destroyed dwellings are similarly attributed, and whose livelihoods were disrupted or destroyed by disasters.
The indicators on economic losses will fuel the debates on reducing economic losses, an issue that will be addressed on the opening day of the Global Platform at the high-level leaders’ forum presided over by the President of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto.
Speaking on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Mexican Civil Protection System last year, President Nieto made reference to the fact that economic losses from disasters are a serious brake on sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty. Many countries are struggling to cope with recurring losses, particularly those who are bearing the brunt of climate change and experiencing extreme weather events which destroy critical infrastructure, disrupt agriculture and lead to population movements and loss of livelihoods.
In addition to the indicators, there are now 89 national disaster loss databases created with UNISDR support, to help benchmark progress on this key issue for sustainable development.
The damage or destruction of productive assets, housing, critical infrastructure, cultural heritage and agricultural loss are listed among key target areas for countries to focus on when it comes to monitoring their performance in reducing direct economic loss in relation to GDP by 2030 (Sendai target c).
The Global Platform will look at this issue in some depth given the World Bank research findings that 26 million people are pushed into poverty every year by disasters while UNISDR estimates that based on present trends global average annual loss could increase up to US$415 billion by 2030, the end date for the Sendai Framework implementation.
Another concern that will be addressed at the Global Platform is the looming 2020 deadline for the Sendai Framework’s target (e) : “Substantially increase the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020.”
The world’s most disaster prone region Asia has adopted a complete plan for implementation of the Sendai Framework including a drive to have it available in national languages and to ensure that 40% of countries will already have national strategies in place by 2018.
Africa, Europe and the Americas have all expressed their desire to reach this goal and the opening day will see a Working Session devoted to the Sendai Indicators and Terminology outlined in the “Report of the open-ended intergovernmental expert working groups on indicators and terminology relating to disaster risk reduction.”
The Global Platform will be chaired by Mr Luis Felipe Puente, Head of the National Civil Protection of Mexico, and will have three main outcomes to guide future actions on implementation of the Sendai Framework. These are the Chair’s Summary, Leaders Forum High Level Communique and the Global Platform Proceedings.
Some 2,000 people have so far registered for the Global Platform and registration is open now http://www.unisdr.org/conferences/2017/globalplatform/en