A new global framework for disaster risk reduction

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Barbados: Members of the community doing practical exercises in disaster management. Photo: UNDP in Barbados & the OECS

It is well recognized that disasters are an impediment to the eradication of poverty, so it is no surprise that the upcoming Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) include indicators related to disaster risk reduction. However, while most attention is on the post-2015 development framework, momentum is also building towards a new framework for disaster risk reduction – a successor to the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA).

Adopted by 168 countries in 2005, the HFA pledges to reduce the impact of disasters through prevention, preparedness, and capacities for emergency response. Over the last nine years, the HFA has been instrumental in galvanizing global support for tackling disasters.

And the results during this time have been significant. Countries in all regions have made progress and some have truly transformed the way they undertake development, mainstreaming risk reduction throughout institutions, policies and programmes.

However, while a great deal of progress has been made, especially in disaster preparedness, other areas, such as risk-governance, still require a concerted push.

In July, I had the opportunity to participate in the first preparation meeting for the successor of the HFA (dubbed ‘HFA2’), and its adoption in March 2015 at the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction. Organized by UNISDR and a Preparatory Committee led by Member States, the prep-com brought together hundreds of delegates from national governments, the UN, civil society and the private sector.

Many questions were raised: will the new framework be a continuation of the HFA or will it be reconfigured? Which areas of the old HFA were difficult to report on and where can we make it easier for partners to implement and monitor? How can the new framework strengthen and facilitate sustainable development? Positions were understandably varied, but the core commitment to a better framework for disaster risk reduction was widespread.

Some issues came up time and again. Most partners, for instance, seemed to agree that disaster risk reduction and development go hand-in-hand, and many called for closer integration between HFA2, the SDGs and the 2015 climate agreement. How this would work however, and to what degree, was less certain. Should targets and indicators be mutually coherent (an approach which UNDP and UNISDR are currently piloting) or should they diverge and overlap in spirit only? It is as yet unclear whether, or how, this will be resolved. Other issues that arose included the need for a framework that is practical and action-oriented; an emphasis on capacity building; adequate financing for risk reduction as part of sustainable development; and building back better when disasters occur.

UNDP is working with our partners to facilitate this process and we will be engaging in each step of the HFA2 development process to help answer these questions.

Given the ongoing impact of disasters on lives and development, with nearly 5 billion people affected in the last 20-years, it is exciting to see momentum building towards a Post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction.