World salutes Sendai Framework

United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction
The one-year-old Sendai Framework is the most comprehensive global disaster risk reduction to date (Photo: UNISDR)
The one-year-old Sendai Framework is the most comprehensive global disaster risk reduction to date (Photo: UNISDR)

GENEVA, 18 March 2016 – The international community today celebrated the first anniversary of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the world’s most comprehensive blueprint for curbing the impact of natural and man-made hazards, with 20 million people taking to social media to mark the occasion.

A year after the gavel came down at the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai – a city battered by the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami – the #switch2sendai message spread globally and governments said they were working hard to apply the 15-year international agreement on the ground.

“All member states have the responsibility to implement the Sendai Framework,” said Ms. Cecilia Rebong, Ambassador of the Philippines, who chairs a UN diplomatic body advocating for disaster risk reduction.

The Sendai Framework, which runs to 2030, has seven targets. It aims to bring about substantial reductions in disaster deaths, the number of affected people and economic losses, plus damage to critical infrastructure and disruption to basic services such as health and educational facilities. It also seeks to increase the number of countries with national and local risk reduction strategies, bolster the capacity of developing countries, and vastly increase coverage by early warning systems.

“The Sendai Framework is a bold commitment,” Mr. Robert Glasser, head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), told delegates at an anniversary meeting in Geneva.

“We’re asking for a reduction of economic losses, of loss of life. If the world weren’t changing, that would already be a challenge. But we’re doing this in the context of a rising global population and of climate change,” he said.

Friday’s anniversary also saw the announcement that Mexico will host the next global conference on how to reduce loss of life and economic losses from disasters caused by man-made and natural hazards, the most important multilateral forum in its kind and a key step for implementing the Sendai Framework.

Several thousand representatives of governments, international organizations and civil society are expected to attend the 5th Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction from 22 to 26 May, 2017 in Cancún – which has learned to confront hurricanes in order to protect its vibrant tourist industry.

In a statement, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said: “Mexico fully backs implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction as an important pillar of the 2030 Development Agenda. Preventing and reducing disaster losses is vital to the eradication of poverty.”

In Geneva, Mr. Miguel Ruiz Cabañas, Mexico’s Vice Minister for Multilateral Affairs, underlined his president’s message about the linkage between the Sendai Framework and its sister accords on development financing, sustainable development and climate change, likewise adopted in 2015.

“The year 2015 has demonstrated that countries are able to reach cross-cutting agreements that are essential for humanity,” he said.

Disaster risk reduction is also set to be on the agenda of the World Humanitarian Summit in Turkey in May, the UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) in October, and the COP22 climate conference in November – the host of the latter, Morocco, has pledged to ensure the Sendai Framework’s aims are etched into the final agreement.

“We will be meeting against the backdrop of a world that is changing significantly because of climate change and where millions have been rendered food insecure because of a very strong El Niño,” said Mr. Glasser.

“A key objective of the Sendai Framework and the Global Platform will be to encourage UN member States to follow the example of Mexico and others to go beyond disaster management to tackling the risks which drive disaster losses including poverty, unplanned urbanization, environmental degradation and poor risk governance.”

The choice of Mexico to host the Global Platform is particularly symbolic because the country’s devastating 1985 earthquake was one trigger for an ensuing international shift from treating disasters as a matter of relief operations to confronting risk head on.

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