SRSG Mizutori's Remarks at HLPF Side Event: Sustainable recovery in practice: what does a sustainable and resilient recovery in countries look like?

United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction

Remarks by Ms. Mami Mizutori, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction

2022 HLPF Side Event: Sustainable Recovery in Practice: What Does a Sustainable and Resilient Recovery in Countries Look Like?

Organized by the Permanent Mission of Denmark and the Danish Institute for Human Rights

Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Colleagues,

It is a pleasure to join this important discussion.

UNDRR has been championing the principle of Build Back Better for a long time, even from before the pandemic. Actually many of you may not know that this expression was created by the disaster risk reduction community, and in 2015 when the Sendai Framework for DRR was adopted unanimously by all member states, one of the for priorities of this people-centred, human rights based document, became about this ‘to Build Back Better” in recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction. At its core, it is about eliminating those conditions that led to a disaster in the first-place wrecking lives and livelihoods.

And as inequality, poverty and marginalization are root causes that drive up vulnerability to risks, so any recovery effort, from any kind of disaster, must address these conditions.

Now the importance of human rights-based and gender-responsive approach to disaster risk reduction and disaster recovery resonated widely at our 2022 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Bali, which was convened by the UNDRR and hosted by the government of Indonesia, a little over a month ago, and it features prominently in the outcome document of the conference, the Bali Agenda for Resilience.

And it goes back to 2015, because as in all global agenda documents which were adopted that year, the Sendai Framework makes leaving no one behind a core principle.

We know that without conscious and concerted attention to reducing vulnerability and exposure to future crises through making the recovery process risk-informed, marginalized groups will be left further behind. Poor people will become poorer, informal business will never be able to resume and girls who lose opportunity to education will on top of that become child brides.

We have seen all this happen during the pandemic from which we are trying to recovery, and also as a result of climate emergency, so really and truly, the time to act on an inclusive approach to disaster risk reduction is NOW.

What do we need to do on the ground and at the country level.

First, we must acknowledge that disasters affect people differently. Member States must advance a participatory and inclusive approach to disaster risk reduction planning and implementation, including for recovery. Countries must ensure that the interests and needs of the most at-risk groups are reflected in the planning. If governments want to have a human rights-based disaster risk reduction strategy, you need to make it a norm, not an exception, to include the representatives of vulnerable groups, in the making of your recovery plans.  

Second, and in relation to the first point, it is critical to strengthen gender equality and the participation of women and girls in decision-making. We know that women and girls face specific vulnerabilities in the time of disasters because of pervasive gender inequality and biases that exist across all societies. Policies and programmes for DRR must be based on an understanding of gender dimensions of disaster risk.  Also, Women need to be brought in as leaders for planning and implementing DRR policies. This is why last year, we launched our Women’s Leadership in DRR, the WIN-DRR programme in Asia Pacific, which is about promoting women's leadership in disaster risk reduction and creating a network for them.

Third, countries should not wait for a disaster to happen to adopt an inclusive recovery plan.  Planning for recovery and rehabilitation before a disaster strikes is the best way to ensure that recovery from a disaster is based on policies and financial mechanisms that lead to long-term resilience building. I am sure this does not sound challenging for anyone, because sadly now for all countries, the matter of disasters happening is not an ‘if’, but a ‘when’.

Last but not least, reducing disaster risk is essential to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. As nothing erodes sustainable development like a disaster, the implementation of the Sendai Framework is crucial for achieving SDGs that leave no one behind.

In working toward a sustainable future, we must commit to use recovery from the pandemic, and many other crises as an opportunity to ingrain a prevention-oriented, risk-informed, whole-of-society approach into development trajectories.

Many times, we talk about changing a tragedy into an opportunity, we can do this, if governments take these opportunities to build back better and rewrite the story of exclusion and marginalization.

Thank you very much.

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