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Did the Sustainability ride start in Sendai? #WCDRR

More than 6000 participants from around the world converged in the cold Sendai, Japan to define the new road in disaster risk reduction (DRR).

They gathered to develop the The Sendai Framework for disaster risk reduction 2015-2030. This replaces the previous Hyogo Framework for Action, born 10 years ago. It comes with a new goal to contribute to sustainable development by reducing the risk of disasters and building resilience around the world.

Over 4 straight days in mid-March this new Sendai framework for the future was intensely negotiated between governments and civil-society organisations. While these negotiations dragged through what was meant to be a celebratory ending, many of those in attendance had little to celebrate by the end of the week.

This is especially true of anyone fighting to create a link between climate change, and the disasters it now so often amplifies around the world.

The new Disaster Risk agreement states that climate change is an underlying cause of disaster and that “ensuring a credible links between these processes (UNFCCC and DRR) will contribute to building resilience and achieving the global goal to eradicate poverty”.

However, considering that 87% of natural disasters are shaped by climate change, there are many who feel it is not nearly good enough.

Extreme weather flooding, droughts, storms and a number of other environmental hazards are intensified due to climate variability. Cyclone Pam and Super-Typhoon Yolanda highlighted this fact.

But the vulnerability, especially in the Pacific, will continue if concrete actions are not taken.

Corazon Juliano Soliman, the Secretary of the Department of Social welfare and development in Philippines noted that “The relationship between DRR and climate change adaptation is a direct one. In Philippines we faced the strongest typhoon the world has ever had.”

Similarly to leaders of the Marshall Islands and Vanuatu, Soliman also attributed the increasing storm surges directly to climate change;  “The weather phenomena is caused by the heat that increase the temperature and threw the water to our country”

However, when it came to the question of international collaboration, the negotiations proved less conclusive.

“The discussions in Sendai were intense, especially in terms or…how states will work together” noted Soliman.

This was especially the case when country’s were asked what financial and technological resources they would be willing to share to support particularly vulnerable, poorer nations.

As a result, we now have very weak, voluntary financial commitments alongside seven other agenda items in the Sendai framework without clear goals or indicators to address.

The general goal of the framework is to achieve a substantial reduction in disaster mortality, economic losses, and infrastructure. They have also agreed to “enhance international cooperation”.

But without strong commitments on and clear goals to guide their work, there is little hope that anything substantial can be achieved.

This was especially distressing for Inangaro Vakaafi, a climate youth activist from Niue who was very concerned at the lack of support specifically allocated to small island states.

“I had an expectation that SIDS (Small Island Developing States) be highlighted specifically because of our vulnerability. SIDS has fewer resources both financial and human. It takes us longer to bounce back from disasters.”

While Vakaafi may have arrived with hopes for greater support, it now seems that this support will have to be sought out through other means.

However Vakaafi may still get her chance, as the new framework in Disaster Risk Reduction is the first of 4 key international negotiations to to be adopted this year.

The next stops in this road will be defined in June with a major conference in financing for development, the Sustainable development goals in September and of course COP21 in France.

As the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies notes, “In order to ensure communities are better equipped to address current and future risks, coherence across Sustainable Development, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction policies, plans and programs needs to be ensured”.

This post was published by Xiomara Acevedo, who recently returned from Sendai.

Did the Sustainability ride start in Sendai? #WCDRR Reviewed by Olumide Idowu on Monday, April 06, 2015 Rating: 5
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