On the road to Sendai, UNDP draws on 10 years of experience
09 Mar 2015 by Jan Kellett, Disaster and Climate Change Advisor, Bureau of Policy and Programme Support
Over the last 8-months I attended negotiations to agree on a successor to the Hyogo Framework for Action a 10-year plan to make the world safer from disasters. The clear message I've taken from this is that it’s time to shift attention away from rhetoric and advocacy, and towards concrete, country-level action.
Making this happen means accepting the fact that disaster risk reduction (DRR) is one and the same as development. And doing risk reduction right means doing development right. Put simply – we might not stop the storm, but we can stop the storm from destroying lives and livelihoods if we build the right houses, in the right places, with the right materials.
We are well aware of this fact at UNDP, and have used to it guide our efforts. Over the last 10 years we’ve been in the trenches with our country level partners and have done everything from passing laws to improving building codes. What we’ve learned in the process is that everything is connected: law, training, building, it’s all one long thread of risk-informed development.
Our new infographic report highlights this and the numbers speak for themselves: We invested at least US$1.7 billion—as much as US$200 a year—to support more than 150 countries and communities to deliver on risk reduction in every imaginable context. We are, as you can see, committed.
Here are a few of the takeaways and highlights from the report:
- The Large and Small: Our community-based preparedness and early-warning efforts in India reached 300 million people, while earthquake recovery in Tajikistan helped a few hundred affected families. We were there nonetheless, regardless of the magnitude or public attention;
- Innovation: With our support, Armenia, Georgia, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, FYR Macedonia and Moldova are all investing in smartphone technology to reduce disaster risks. This includes apps that let people track disasters;
- Long-term Sustained Engagement: We are present in 177 countries and territories, in many of them for more than decades – we know the people, the history, the culture and, overall, the context. This knowledge and experience is irreplaceable;
- The Importance of Legislation: While any initiative to reduce risk is a positive step, countries that build the institutional frameworks and capacities to lead DRR are the ones that make the biggest, deepest and most profound impact. We see this in Armenia, Honduras, Mozambique and Papua New Guinea, amongst others.
- Recovery as a catalyst: While tragic, recovering from a disaster can be a jumping-off point for long-term risk reduction – and the evidence of this is seen in Ecuador, Djibouti and Serbia, to name but a few.
More food for thought is to be found throughout the report: long-term partnerships; building national capacity; and, above all else, a focus on risk-informed, sustainable development.
We are ready to answer the call of the new framework for DRR, and are prepared to play our part in supporting countries and communities as they implement the new framework for a truly sustainable future.