Towards a post-2015 resilient world: the 3rd World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction to open in Sendai

From 14 to 18 March 2015, the city of Sendai (Japan) will host the 3rd World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR), aimed at reviewing the implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015 (HFA) and at adopting a new enhanced international framework for the post-2015 period.

The HFA was endorsed in 2005 during the 2nd WCDRR, and inspired in its ambitions by the devastating South Asian tsunami. It called for substantial reduction of disaster losses in terms of human lives and social, economic and environmental damage. This objective was to become a guiding principle for governments, civil society, international financial institutions and the private sector, in the joint effort to build disaster resilience.

Undoubtedly, the HFA was able to prompt considerable progress towards a more proactive and holistic approach to disaster risk reduction (DRR). Nevertheless, achievements have been patchy across regions and unevenly distributed among the five priorities for action identified by the framework. The main outcomes have been achieved in terms of improvements at the institutional level and increased capacity in strengthening preparedness and response.

Limited progress was instead reported in tackling the underlying causes of risk and, in general, integrating DRR in sustainable development policies and planning as well as in implementing the framework at the local level, with a special focus on the most vulnerable sectors of society.

The post-2015 deal is called to address such weaknesses and to respond to additional needs identified by institutional and civil society stakeholders during the consultation process lunched in 2012 by the UNISDR. These include the promotion of a more inclusive approach, with respect to women, youth and people with disabilities, a more effective interplay of science, policy and practice in support of DRR, an enhanced focus on local government and community organizations that are on the frontline of building resilience, and the opportunity to better reflect on the role of private sector engagement.

A key challenge for the new framework will be the integration of climate change issues, thus recognizing the common goals DRR and climate change adaptation (CCA) have in reducing the vulnerability of communities and achieving sustainable development. The link between the DRR and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) processes should also be strengthened and made more explicit. In the zero draft submitted by the co-Chairs of the Preparatory Committee in October 2014 the topic of poverty eradication is cited very few times, despite the way DRR appears instead in the draft SDG.

With the upcoming agreements and commitments on climate change and sustainable development to be finalized by 2015, Sendai represents a first and unique opportunity to enhance synergies and coherence among these international instruments, and enable mutual support for their common objectives.


(Image: Hurricane Tomas Floods Streets of Gonaives, Haiti, Nov. 2010. Photo credit: UN Photo/UNICEF/Marco Dormino on Flickr)