Overtime agreement on DDR reached in Sendai after negotiations deadlocked

Delegates from 187 governments participating to the third UN Conference on Disaster Risk reduction in Japan received the draft version of the Sendai Declaration on the evening of Wednesday (March 18). The final session to adopt the Post-2015 Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction opened several hours later than scheduled and agreed on the new 15-years action plan to prevent and reduce disasters in late evening.

 

The new, non-binding DDR framework (successor to the current Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015) includes seven targets to measure progress on protecting people and assets, such as reduction in disaster mortality, reduction of direct economic losses as a percentage of GDP, improvement in access to disaster risk information and early warning systems.

According to UNISDR release, Margareta Wahlström, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, said: “The adoption of this new framework for disaster risk reduction opens a major new chapter in sustainable development as it outlines clear targets and priorities for action which will lead to a substantial reduction of disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods and health”.    

 

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 In the final version adopted on Wednesday the targets where “watered-down” compared with earlier proposals as percentage goals were rejected. The move, together with lack of clear commitments to finance prevention and resilience programs in poor and vulnerable countries was criticized by NGOs immediately after the adoption. “Seven global targets agreed in the new disaster risk deal is a step forward. However, weak targets without numbers and no commitment to finance make them meaningless for those most vulnerable in developing countries”, said Harjeet Singh, ActionAid International Policy Manager on Climate Change.   

  “Over the past four days in Sendai, we have seen rich nations gradually erode commitments to deliver money to developing countries to prepare for and respond to increasing disasters and climate change impacts. We are walking away from Sendai with an international agreement full of fluffy targets. The agreement has no specific numbers which are needed to hold governments to account for their actions over the next fifteen years. The language in the text is ambiguous on what rich nations must provide. This is an unacceptable compromise by the world’s governments that will ultimately affect people living in poverty the most. Cyclone Pam has devastated the Pacific nation of Vanuatu, and even with this timely reminder, governments have failed miserably to respond to the growing impact of disasters on the world’s poorest nations. Disasters are felt most significantly by poor countries, and these countries urgently require greater financing and capacity to adequately prepare for disasters and reduce loss of life and income”, Singh said in a press statement by ActionAid.

Oxfam’s Senior Humanitarian Policy Advisor Scott Paul said: “The world’s poorest people, who are most vulnerable to natural disasters, have again been let down by governments. Negotiators in Sendai were supposed to agree on a much needed bold new plan to build countries’ resilience to events like Cyclone Pam that has just devastated Vanuatu, one of our least developed nations. Instead what was adopted is a set of half-measures that will not keep pace with rapidly rising disaster risk around the world”.


“The international community’s inability to make concrete commitments to finance disaster risk reduction threatens to undercut its ambitious anti-poverty agenda – and puts added pressure on governments to take bold action at more high-profile international conferences on the Sustainable Development Goals and an ambitious new global climate change agreement later this year”, Paul added according to Oxfam’s press release.

 

(Image: Negotiation meeting at UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan, March 17, 2015. Photo credit: UN ISDR/Flickr)