Volume 141 Number 4 – Thursday, 12 May 2011
GLOBAL PLATFORM HIGHLIGHTS
Wednesday, 11 May 2011
On Wednesday, participants continued meeting in plenary to discuss the economics of disasters, followed by an informal plenary on the implementation of the outcomes of the Mid-term Review of the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA). A high-level panel on responding to natural disasters took place as part of the World Reconstruction Conference being held during the Global Platform. General statements continued in morning and afternoon sessions as well as roundtables and featured events on public investment, private sector engagement, protecting critical infrastructure, and the economics of effective prevention.
PLENARY: THE ECONOMICS OF DISASTER – EFFECTIVE FINANCIAL INSTRUMENTS TOREDUCE RISK
Moderated by Raghida Dergham, Al Hayat News Agency, panelists discussed national, local and corporate spending, and the most effective instruments to ensure that investments reduce risk from natural hazards. They also provided recommendations, inter alia, to mainstream DRR on international and national development agendas, engage the private sector and empower local authorities.
On country-level DRR efforts, Seri Mohamed Aziz, Minister at the Prime Minister’s Department, Malaysia, discussed his country’s stormwater project to mitigate urban floods and real-time flood forecasting information exchange. Kristalina Georgieva, Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, EU, explained that disaster risks can undermine development and highlighted the importance of working with disaster-prone countries to make sure that investments in those countries can resist disasters.
Woochong Um, Deputy Director-General, Asian Development Bank, emphasized the importance of generating financing for DRR and harnessing the knowledge of the private sector. Oscar Ortiz, Mayor of Santa Tecla, El Salvador, saw disaster as an opportunity to rebuild infrastructure and noted the importance of leadership and building local capacity. Nirankar Saxena, Director, Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, highlighted the importance of leveraging greater financial resources and technologies. On building resilience and maintaining awareness, Ortiz highlighted the role of education and collective memory.
In response to questions from participants on whether to make DRR a conditionality or a safeguard, Um suggested DRR is already part of rapid assessments. Georgieva called for greater knowledge-sharing. Saxena emphasized the positive role of microfinance in DRR.
INFORMAL PLENARY: IMPLEMENTATION OF THE OUTCOMES OF THE HFAMID-TERM REVIEW
Co-chair Margareta Wahlström, UN Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, said the aim of the session was to reflect on the Mid-term Review of the HFA and ways forward, focusing on local, national and regional levels, local communities and cross-cutting issues. Co-chair Kenzo Oshima, Senior Vice President of Japan International Cooperation Agency, called for innovative approaches to mainstreaming DRR into sustainable development and climate change adaptation. Letizia Rossano, Senior Coordinator of the HFA Mid-term Review, presented the main findings of the Review, and said progress in DRR is taking place, especially from an institutional point of view, by passing of national legislation, setting up early warning systems, and establishing cooperation agreements and joint plans of action at the regional level. She noted that issues in need of further attention include: holistic and strategic ways of implementation; cross-cutting issues; and cost-benefit analysis. Co-chair Wahlström opened the floor for comments.
Many participants agreed that cost-benefit analysis and tools for assessing losses are very important to measure effectiveness and encourage investments in DRR, while others emphasized the need for baseline data to better assess progress. Co-chair Wahlström noted that national investments are often insufficiently measured, and one participant said the economic benefits of DRR need more focus.
Several participants noted that not enough attention is placed on vulnerability and resilience, with one participant calling for improved integration of resilience into DRR policy and plans, and normative instruments, and another emphasizing the need for advocacy efforts to build resilience. Some participants proposed that countries present annual reports on their implementation of the HFA.
Participants raised the significance of local level involvement and empowerment to respond effectively to disasters. The discussion also focused on improved involvement of the private sector, and further investments in preparedness and prevention, as well as involving indigenous communities in the HFA process. One participant recommended that risk and vulnerability assessments are taken into account to reach the priority to reduce underlying risk factors.
Some participants discussed the need to keep the HFA a voluntary tool, and others stressed the importance of developing DRR standards for better guidance, supporting the National Platforms, and setting targets at the national level. In closing the session, Co-chair Oshima proposed the creation of an inter-global platform mechanism to help advance HFA implementation.