Over the past decade, the international community has increasingly acknowledged the importance of disaster risk reduction (DRR) in relief and development programming. The Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA), the ten-year plan born of the United Nations World Conference on Disaster Reduction in 2005, has served as the guiding document behind DRR initiatives to increase resilience and build the coping capacity of communities and nations around the world.With the HFA due to expire this year, the United Nations convened the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) in Sendai, Japan this March to adopt a new way forward.
The conference welcomed over 6,500 delegates to its events and over 50,000 people to the public forum. Attendees included representatives from 187 States, 42 intergovernmental organizations, 236 non-governmental organizations, 38 UN entities, and over 300 private sector organizations. After almost 30 hours of intense negotiations, development leaders and government officials finally reached agreement on a new global framework that will usher in a more “solid” and “people-centered” disaster risk reduction policy process and implementation program for the next 15 years.
The new framework, The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction: 2015-2030, builds on the lessons learned from the HFA and outlines several thematic areas and action plans that governments, communities and organizations can use to improve their DRR programs in the future. It will focus on a more targeted approach to proliferate better and streamlined DRR efforts from the local to the international level, which will include setting concrete goals and targets – something that was sorely missing from the 2005 Hyogo framework. The Sendai framework outlines seven global (concrete) targets and also includes priorities for action, which focus on understanding disaster risk, strengthening disaster risk governance to manage disaster risk, investing in disaster risk reduction for resilience and enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response. It also highlights the concept of “building back better” – a catchphrase that has defined the post-Haiyan recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction in the Philippines.
The Sendai framework has been met with a combination of praise and criticism from experts, some of whom do not believe that the agreement will be able to keep up with rising international disaster risks. Although the agreement offers a wealth of opportunities for organizations dealing with displacement issues, disaster relief and development organizations such as Oxfam cite concerns about accountability and funding.