By Denis McClean
GENEVA, 7 March 2013 - Representatives of UN agencies, funds and programmes completed an action plan this week that will accelerate the integration of disaster risk reduction into all UN country level operations in response to the rising levels of disruption to millions of lives each year from disasters.
The United Nations Plan of Action Plan on Disaster Risk Reduction for Resilience commits to bringing multiple partners together to support the further implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action, the international framework agreement on disaster risk reduction, adopted by all UN member States in 2005.
The UN Plan prepared by a senior management team, was presented to the UN's 29-member High Level Committee on Programmes by UNISDR Chief, Margareta Wahlström. It notes that developing countries can suffer a 2% to 15% of GDP annual loss due to disasters.
Cross-UN agency support for mainstreaming disaster risk reduction will provide a major boost to UNISDR's ongoing consultations with key stakeholders on the content of a new global framework on disaster risk reduction to follow on from the existing Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) in 2015. It is also an indication that the UN is introducing more accountability around risk management; agencies will track their progress on a regular basis.
Margareta Wahlström who is also the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Disaster risk Reduction, said: "In any given year over 200 million people could lose their lives or their homes or their jobs because of a disaster event. Extreme weather events are on the rise and so are economic losses which can severely impact public finances and be a major setback for growth in low and middle-income countries.
"The UN system already plays a vital role in disaster response and preparedness. However, we have collectively identified that we can do more to treat disaster risk reduction as a cross-cutting issue for all our agencies, funds and programmes. Risk is changing and becoming more dynamic as a result of rapid urbanization, population growth, climate change and industrial expansion.
"The UN recognizes this new reality and sees disaster risk reduction including climate change adaptation as essential to poverty reduction in the 21st century. We are now laying down the parameters for how we can fully support resilience to disasters.
"I am pleased that this agreement is in place before the world gathers in Geneva in May at the Global Platform to discuss concrete measures to reach our goal of disaster resilience for both people and the planet as a whole."
In order to achieve the vision laid out in the HFA, the UN system is committed to ensure that development policies, programming and investments, in every country, and the support provided by the UN, are informed by risk assessments. Disaster risk reduction will become a priority for all UN agencies and will be fully integrated in institutional policies and strategies by 2015. The plan also stresses the importance of UN system support for national, regional and global consultations and efforts towards the development of a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction (HFA2).
This year's Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction which will be held in Geneva this May, will be the last such assembly before the 2015 World Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction which will agree on a new version of the HFA.