Global Disaster Risk Reduction: Post 2015 Framework

The fourth session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) was held in Geneva, Switzerland on 19-23 May 2013. The Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction is a biennial forum for information exchange, discussion of latest development and knowledge and partnership building across sectors, with the goal to improve implementation of DRR through better communication and coordination amongst stakeholders.

The fourth session was held at the opportune time, when negotiations for the post 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) framework are ongoing. The new framework will replace the current MDGs, which expire in 2015, with a possible inclusion of DRR.

The current MDGs, adopted in 2000, include eight international development goals namely, eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and empowering women, reducing child mortality rates, improving maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability, and developing a global partnership for development. Many governments at this fourth session of the Global Platform have suggested new targets should reflect measures that reduce the human and economic costs of disasters. The global thematic consultations on disaster resilience in the post-2015 development agenda recommended that disaster risk be mainstreamed throughout the post-2015 goals, combined with a stand-alone goal on DRR, using resilience as a common outcome.

This fourth session also served as a platform to consult on the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA), 2005-2015. Building the resilience of nations and communities to disasters by achieving substantive reduction of disaster losses by 2015 – in lives, and in the social, economic, and environmental assets of communities and countries, is the overarching goal of the HFA. Consultations to develop a successor instrument (informally referred to as HFA2) for HFA are underway. The UN also supports the DRR work. In April 2013, the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) released the “Synthesis Report on Consultations on the Post-2015 Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction (HFA2),” following the UN General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 67/209, requesting UNISDR to facilitate the development of a post-2015 framework for DRR.

The report details the results of the year-long consultative process on HFA2 launched in March 2012. The proposed HFA2 is to build on the existing HFA framework, focus on implementation and tackle the challenges of increasing risk by identifying the causes of these risks and charting out the roles of various stakeholders.

Following the Global Platform, a draft version of HFA2 will be the focus of the second round of consultations over the next 18 months. The World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction will be held in 2015 in Sendai, Japan where the HFA2 will be finalized.

This session of the Global Platform has been the largest and most diverse to date, which is indicative of the increase in the importance of DRR in the present day and the commitment of those involved in the process.

From a civil society perspective, WaterLex participated as an official representative of Civil Society Organizations in the stakeholder consultations, and especially the multi-stakeholder workshop which took place on Monday 20th. At this occasion, WaterLex highlighted the importance of linking the DRR to Human Rights monitoring and accountability frameworks.

This demand has been voiced and promoted by WaterLex since 2011 (FAQ on Human Rights and DRR). WaterLex has been first pushing for an official CSO positioning in UN DRR related fora in favor of human rights linkages. Eventually, the main CSO network engaging at the global level, namely the Global Network for Disaster Reduction (GNDR) agreed and included in its “5 action points to accelerate Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) progress at the local level” as the first action point:

1. Government responsibility to protect citizens from preventable and foreseeable disasters is made a legal commitment under existing international human rights law by 2013.

  • By adopting a human rights-based approach, the obligations of national governments to their citizens can be operationalised through human rights procedural requirements. Political commitment and public accountability is strengthened when legal obligations are clear. For example:
  • the right to non-discrimination, which supports the principle of protecting the most vulnerable social groups;
  • the right to participation – if vulnerable people and their local leaders do not participate in decision-making processes then their specific needs, capacities and vulnerabilities get ignored;
  • the right to information – public awareness, effective participation and downwards accountability is only possible if vulnerable people have access to appropriate information on risks and risk reduction measures;
  • the right to remedy – which requires States to have effective accountability mechanisms, including impartial monitoring processes and access to an appropriate means to redress in situations where governments fail to implement specific rights.

Finally, the official 2013 CSO report to the Global Plateform labelled “Views from the Frontline” (VFL 2013) includes as a 4th recommendation the mobilization of political commitment by focusing on rights, responsibilities and accountabilities through:

  • ” Explicitly link the protection of people’s lives, livelihoods and assets to relevant international and domestic legal provisions – including human rights, environmental legislation, traditional and customary laws;
  • Apply a rights-based approach that turns human rights standards and procedural rights into actions, and puts the relationship between people as rights holders and governments as primary duty bearers at the centre of the framework;
  • Establish relevant performance standards, targets, associated baselines and indicators to measure progress in institutional DRR performance and achievements at all levels;
  • Establish transparent monitoring and audit mechanisms to impartially measure and review progress towards achieving standards and goals at all levels;
  • Establish complaints and grievance procedures accessible to the general public for remedy and redress;
  • Implement public information and communications systems to improve public access to disaster risk management information.”

These linkages are a start and WaterLex will follow up on promoting an integrated approach to water management which encompasses the DRR dimensions.

For more information: Dr. Helene Boussard – Legal Desk Coordinator – h.boussard@waterlex.org