The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami stunned the world. Costing more than 200,000 lives and billions of dollars in economic loss, it introduced – through horrifying images of devastation- the world to a new size and magnitude of risk.

Some communities were more fortunate than others: they were warned that a wave was on its way and had some minutes to seek higher ground. Some were not.

Natural hazards are not new, and natural hazards do not in themselves pose a threat. 

But our world has shrunk through the interconnectivity brought about through globalization. And humans have pushed the planet beyond its boundaries. Man-made hazards, like financial system collapse, or radiation are also bringing new risk. The very nature of risk has changed: systemic and cascading risk, where a risk may start out one way, like a tsunami and end up as another risk, as in the nuclear station melt down in the huge Japan earthquake of 2011.

If we want to get on top of sustainable development then we must deal move from managing disasters, traditionally done reactively to managing risk – proactively.

Investing in resilience

Our impactIn 2017, more than US$25billion was requested by UN agencies for humanitarian response, and Development Initiatives estimates that, in over 27 countries, humanitarian funding received was (on aggregate) US$2.9billion higher in the fifth year of a protracted crisis than the first.

But every US$1 invested in risk reduction and prevention can save up to US$15 in post-disaster recover. Every US$1 invested in making infrastructure disaster-resilient saves US$4 in reconstruction.

Moreover, the convergence between disaster risk reduction, sustainable development, financing for development, and climate change mitigation and adaptation presents a unique opportunity for increased coherence and global impact.

The global policy agenda incorporates a common message: understanding hazards, how they interact and managing exposure and vulnerability are imperative for development to be sustainable. 

As a practical framework for dealing with risk, the Sendai Framework is the connecting tissue for all the post 2015 international agreements. It makes the logical connection between reducing risk and building resilience, because a better understanding of risk, strengthened risk governance, increased investment and better preparedness creations a foundation for the resilience of people, communities, governments and businesses.

UNDRR works globally towards the prevention of new, and the reduction of existing disaster risk. Supporting the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and other global development goals, UNDRR promotes the strengthening resilience through successful multi-hazard disaster risk management.

We have seen some extraordinary changes in understanding and approaching risk:

For example, India has committed to the world’s largest rural roads programme, with an investment of US$500 million, and all contract bids must be risk-informed and take account of resilience.

UNDRR operates transparently, focusing on effective, efficient and quality organizational performance and programme delivery, to guarantee and increase the impact of our work.

UNDRR delivers through three Strategic Objectives (SOs) and two Enablers:


Strengthen global monitoring, analysis and coordination of Sendai Framework implementation


Support to regional and national Sendai Framework implementation


Catalyse action through countries and partners

Enabler 1

Effective communications, advocacy and knowledge management outputs

Enabler 2

Strengthened organizational performance