The first major agreement on the post-2015 development agenda has been adopted – a far-reaching new framework for disaster risk reduction with seven targets and four priorities for action. The Sendai Framework for Action was adopted at the World Conference on Disaster risk Reduction (WCDRR) in Sendai this month.
This is a significant outcome given that over the past decade, disasters have killed more that 700,000 people, injuring 1.4 million, and leaving some 23 million homeless as a result (according to the outcome document). Overall, more than 1.5 billion people were in some way touched by disaster and worldwide economic losses topped $1.3 trillion. The Sendai Framework for Action therefore seeks to achieve, over the next 15 years, “the substantial reduction of disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods and health and in the economic, physical, social, cultural and environmental assets of persons, businesses communities and countries.”
Margareta Wahlström, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction said, “The adoption of this new framework for disaster risk reduction opens a major new chapter in sustainable development as it outlines clear targets and priorities for action which will lead to a substantial reduction of disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods and health.”
The Framework outlines seven global targets to be achieved over the next 15 years: a substantial reduction in global disaster mortality; a substantial reduction in numbers of affected people; a reduction in economic losses in relation to global GDP; substantial reduction in disaster damage to critical infrastructure and disruption of basic services, including health and education facilities; an increase in the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020; enhanced international cooperation; and increased access to multi-hazard early warning systems and disaster risk information and assessments.
The Sendai Framework also, for the first time, recognizes environment as a cross-cutting issue in disaster risk reduction. A major milestone is the recognition of the sustainable management of ecosystems as a way to build disaster resilience. Environmental impact assessments are also cited as important tools to achieve risk-sensitive public and private investments. The Sendai Framework further acknowledges the need to tackle environmental drivers of disaster risk, including ecosystem degradation and climate change, as well as the environmental impacts of disasters.
The World Conference was attended by over 6,500 participants including 2,800 government representatives from 187 governments. The Public Forum had 143,000 visitors over the five days of the conference making it one of the largest UN gatherings ever held in Japan.