The expectations have been high in the run-up to the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) in Sendai, set to adopt a new international blueprint for DRR. But the negotiation stalemates on enhanced international cooperation, uplifted official development assistance (ODA), and invoked principle of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR). In the meantime, the ambitious targets have been watered down and their scrutiny enfeebled. With only one day left for reaching an agreement that lives up to the initial pledges, chances are small that the 186 participating governments will demonstrate the determination so much needed to make the world a safer place.
Prior to the conference, concerns were vented that the DRR may not be coordinated closely enough with the post 2015 development and climate change agendas. The opposite has become true: today’s gridlock only confirms that the three political venues are gradually more interlaced and that DRR, unsurprisingly, turned into a battlefield of unresolved issues in development and climate political realms.
The developing countries are more and more frustrated about the little progress in raising the development aid to the previously agreed levels. Back in 2002, both the Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development and the Monterrey Consensus of the International Conference on Financing for Development called upon the developed countries, not for first time, to make concrete efforts to increase the official development assistance to the level of 0.7 per cent of gross national product (GNP). Similarly, in 2005 the G8 countries committed to increase ODA by additional 50 billion USD by 2010. Neither of these pledges has been fulfilled. This is why the prenegotiated text of the Post 2015 DRR Framework called not only for strengthening the international cooperation; it also reminded the developed countries to fulfil their earlier commitments. The draft Framework also underlined that the additional assistance should be ‘sustained and predictable’.
Another contentious issue is the reference to common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR), already contained in the 1992 Rio Declaration but only run into controversy under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Translated into the DRR context, the principle implies that even if the primary responsibility for preventing and reducing disasters risk stays with each country, the DRR is a common concern of all countries and those who are unable to cope with risk on their own can (or perhaps shall) be helped by the others. Bringing the CBDR principle in the DRR context, many fear, will open the door for liabilities and, another unresolved issues, the loss and damage (L&D) discourse.
It is hard to believe that an agreement on the contentious issues could be reached in Sendai. The next International Conference on Financing for Development will be held in July in Addis Ababa, and in September, United Nations Summit is expected to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and targets. The next (third) session of the pre-Summit negotiations on these issues will start just a few days after the WCDRR. Drawing attention to only apparently important issues has distracted attention from areas where major achievements could have been made; measurable targets able to guide and attest countries’ efforts to prevent and reduce the disaster risk. The negotiators should have realized that if the WCDRR fails in this respect, the DRR relevant targets will be discussed and perhaps adopted during the New York Summit in September.
Written by Jaroslav Mysiak (senior scientist at the Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei, FEEM) in Sendai, Japan.
This article was also published on Enhance project website.
(Image: Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, Sendai, Japan, day 4, Champion Meeting. Photo credit: Guillermo B./UN ISDR on Flickr)