Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction calls for action on Sendai

Opening ceremony of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Cancun, May 24th 2017.

From May 22nd to 26th 2017, the Mexican Government welcomed in Cancun the 5000 participants of Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (GPDRR), the most important international forum dedicated to the theme and being held, for the first time in 10 years, outside the UNISDR Geneva headquarters. The GPDRR importantly provided the international community with the opportunity to meet for the first time after the adoption in 2015 of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR) 2015- 2030 and to review progress towards its implementation.

Under the slogan “From commitment to action”, participants engaged in two preparatory days for learning events and stakeholders meetings; a Leaders Forum to address the increased economic losses from disasters; and four plenaries on i) national and local strategies for DRR, ii) reducing vulnerabilities of countries in special situations, iii) the SFDRR monitoring, and iv) enhancing coherence among the SFDRR, the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable development. The event also featured 15 working session and a number of special and side events.

The key political outcome of the event was the release of the Cancun High-Level Communiqué, as resulting from the closed-door Leader Forum held on the 24th. The Communiqué places particular emphasis on the resilience of infrastructure and housing, and commits, inter alia, to reduce regulatory and economic incentives for vulnerable development; conduct a disaster risk assessment of existing critical infrastructure by 2019; make disaster risk assessments a prerequisite for infrastructure and housing investments; and promote the expansion of risk transfer mechanisms, including social safety net schemes.

From an operational point of view, it was decided to kick-off the monitoring of progress in achieving the Sendai 7 global targets and associate indicators in early 2018. This first cycle, ending in March 2019, will exceptionally cover the two biennia 2015-2016 and 2017-2018. After that, progress will be reviewed biennially.

As the effectiveness of the monitoring is highly dependent on the availability, quality and accessibility of relevant data, the UNISDR launched a Data Readiness Review from February 22nd to April 5th in order to determine countries’ existing data gaps. On the basis of the inputs received, a Readiness report was released in Cancun. The review was undertaken by 87 countries and showed different degrees in data availability across targets. Speaking to the Global Platform closing plenary on the 26th, Robert Glasser – UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction – reported that data are available for 83% of countries for Target A (reducing mortality) and 66% for Target B (reducing the numbers of people directly affected). As for Target C (on reducing disaster economic loss in relation to global GDP) and Target D (reducing damage to critical infrastructure and disruption of basic services) only 37%-55% of countries report to have relevant data. The Review also assessed countries’ current ability to set up the baselines for measuring the targets. In this respect, more guidance will be needed in the upcoming years to assist those countries that lack historical disaster losses records and for which retrospectively constructing the 2005-2015 baseline might prove to be challenging.

(Image: Opening ceremony of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Cancun, May 24th 2017. Credit: UN ISDR/Flickr)