UNDP calls for swift action on resilience to mitigate impact of crises and disasters

Apr 29, 2014

On 28 April, the UNDP Administrator, Helen Clark attended the first EU High-level Forum on Resilience held in Brussels. Organized by the EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid, Kristalina Georgieva, and the EU Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, the Forum aimed to facilitate a general dialogue on the resilience agenda and promote exchange of practices among key international actors involved in this field.

Speaking at the event, Ms. Clark emphasized “the importance of transforming the structures which repeatedly perpetuate fragility”, and underlined the highly detrimental impact that disasters and crises, both man-made and those due to natural hazards, have on local, national, and global development efforts. For instance, she said that “Syria is estimated to have lost more than 35 years of human development progress since its conflict began”, while of the fourteen million impacted by the Typhoon Hayan, in the Philippines, “forty per cent were already living below the poverty line”.

The UNDP Administrator called for all key international partners – either humanitarian, development and peacebuilding actors – to work together and address in a holistic manner all different aspects required to build resilience to external shocks. In this regard, she praised the EU for the adoption of a single resilience policy and action plan, and indicated that the UN is also engaged in developing a common resilience policy that marks the first step in bringing together various parts of the UN system to “unlock the resilience components which have proven to be too challenging to manage individually”.

In addition, Ms. Clark highlighted the positive contribution of disaster risk reduction actions, especially during the post-crisis recovery phase, towards resilience-building. She mentioned, as example, the cases of Bangladesh and Mozambique, where investments in early warning systems, raising risk awareness and contingency planning had led to a significant reduction in the damages or casualties caused by recent natural disasters, as compared to previous similar catastrophes in the 90s and early 2000s. In parallel, she stressed the need to strengthen institutions and equip communities with the required skills to prevent conflict. For instance, UNDP has been supporting local government institutions and communities in conflict-affected regions of Colombia to create peacebuilding platforms to mediate conflict around contested issues and promote dialogue, thus helping re-build the wider community’s trust in institutions.

Lastly, the UNDP Administrator called for a closing of the “resilience financing gap”, by ensuring that aid agencies provide “smarter aid that supports local people to drive their own response to crises, recovery and long-term development”.

As part of the Forum, UNDP also presented the partnership with the World Bank and the EU on Post Crisis Assessment and Recovery Planning. Key components of this collaboration are ‘Post Disaster Needs Assessments’ (PDNA) and ‘Post-Crisis Needs Assessments’ (PCNA). These are government-led exercises that bring together national and international stakeholders to align recovery efforts in a coordinated way. They bring together information on economic damages and losses, the human impact of the disaster or the crisis, and the recovery priorities – including the human development needs of the affected population – into a single consolidated assessment report.

The EU Resilience Forum was organized by the European Commission in the framework of the implementation of the EU Resilience Action Plan. Other institutions present at the event included international agencies, like the World Bank, bilateral donors, such as USAID and DFID, and civil society organizations, like the Red Cross movement and OXFAM. The EU Resilience Forum is to be held on an annual basis.