24 April 2017

The challenges and opportunities in meeting the seven global targets of the Sendai Framework

Author(s) Jerry Velasquez, Director of the Division of Mitigation and Adaptation, Green Climate Fund

For the first time in disaster risk reduction, the new global blueprint for reducing disaster risks – the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, adopted numerical targets and indicators for countries to achieve by 2030.

It is therefore important to understand the characteristics of the targets of the Sendai Framework. Are they just aspirational, or are they ambitious but doable? In addition, which ones are quantitative and which ones qualitative? Will it be easy to develop baselines for, and measure them?

Also, which of the seven targets have a clear path to achieve them – a menu of options to deploy in order to reach their goal – and which ones are unclear, with no clear understanding of how these can be reached?

Finally, what can be done, at the start of the implementation period to address these challenges?

Let us then take the "Sendai Seven" targets one by one.  


Target (a)

The first target ahs two elements – a ratio of the global mortality per 100,000 global population, and two time periods to compare – a baseline of measurement of the average values from 2005 to 2015, and a final measurement of the average values from 2020 to 2030.

First let us determine the approximate ratio of the global mortality per 100,000 global population figures for the base time period. The number of deaths per year from 2005 to 2015, based on the EM-DAT database, was an annual average of 83,949, from both natural and technological hazards. Based on World Bank data, the average global population for the same period is about 6.896 billion. This would mean that the number of deaths per 100,000 of the global population, as an average for the period of 2005 to 2015 is 1.2173.   

To meet the Sendai Framework global target, the ratio for the period 2020-2030 should be lower than 1.2173. This means that the average number of deaths for the decade 2020 to 2030 should lower than 95,561 per year, or limiting the increase to less than 11,612 deaths from the baseline.

It is an ambitious target but doable. Target (a) is quantitative, requires a global baseline and systematic measurement.


Target (b)

For the second target a similar analysis can be done. The average annual number of affected population from both natural and technological hazards is 164,866,892. Based on World Bank data, the average global population for the same period is about 6.896 billion. This would mean that the number of deaths per 100,000 of the global population, as an average for the period of 2005 to 2015 is 2,390.727.

To meet the Sendai Framework global target, the ratio for the period 2020-2030 should be lower than 2,390.727. This means that the average number of people affected for the decade 2020 to 2030 should be less than 187.672 million per year, or limiting the increase to less than 22.8 million people from the baseline.

The preamble of the Hyogo Framework for Action and the Sendai Framework notes the effects of disasters. The HFA notes that 2 billion people have been affected by disasters over 10 years (200 million people per year over 20 years), while in comparison the Sendai Framework states that more than 1.5 billion people have been affected by disasters over 10 years. This means a 25% reduction of the number of people affected, despite the fact that over the same period, the world population increased by more than 1 billion people. This is a testament to the success of the HFA in one indicator of disaster impacts.

This means that this is an ambitious target but doable. Target (b) is quantitative, requires a global baseline and systematic measurement.


Target (c)

The third target only has one element – a ratio of the global direct economic loss per global GDP.

At present the average annual loss as per the GAR 2015 is about USD 250 billion. Direct economic losses have increased by 230% from 1990 to 2011. This means that by 2030, it is possible that unchecked, economic losses can reach USD 750 billion.   

A comparison of the present and projected global GDP in 2030 can be made. Note that direct economic loss data does not yet exist comprehensively for all countries and a complete baseline is yet to be done.

However, using total economic losses for this exercise, this would mean that to meet the Sendai Framework global target, either the “global GDP increase” should be doubled by 2030, effectively quadrupling the present GDP, or the projected increase in losses (USD 500 billion) is halved by 2030. Both of these requirements are very ambitious. The first condition is highly unlikely. The second condition may be possible, but extremely difficult.

One of the key drivers of the increasing economic losses is the increase in economic exposure of assets to hazards. Economic and urban growth, natural and artificial subsidence, sea level rise and climate change will likely contribute to increasing this exposure dramatically, particularly in low and middle-income countries.

Whereas the estimated exposure of economic assets is expected to increase from US$416 billion in Miami, United States of America, in 2005 to US$3,513 billion in 2070, in Mumbai, India, asset exposure would increase from US$46 billion to US$1,598 billion, and in Guangzhou, China, from US$84 billion to US$3,557 billion. In Dhaka, Bangladesh, it would increase from US$8 billion to an extraordinary US$544 billion (source: GAR 2013, p. 48).    

This means that this is an ambitious target and challenging to achieve. Target (c) is quantitative, requires a global baseline and systematic measurement.   


Target (d)

This target has two components, namely the damage to critical infrastructures, noting in particular health and education facilities, and secondly the disruption of basic services.

At present, some available data exists, in particular damage to schools and hospitals for countries with historical disaster loss databases. Figures show that the damage to both schools and hospitals has increased by around 200% over a 20-year period (from 1989 to 2009). As the Sendai Framework global target is an absolute figure, any decrease from a future projected value would meet a part of the global target.

Other parts of the target, specifically “other critical infrastructures and facilities,” which will be based on national definition, and the “reduction of the disruption of basic services” will make measurement based entirely on what gets collected in national loss databases from now on.

The European Union for example, defines critical infrastructures to include:

  • energy installations and networks;
  • communications and information technology;
  • finance (banking, securities and investment);
  • health care;
  • food;
  • water (dams, storage, treatment and networks);
  • transport (airports, ports, intermodal facilities, railway and mass transit networks and traffic control systems);
  • production, storage and transport of dangerous goods (e.g. chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials);
  • government (e.g. critical services, facilities, information networks, assets and key national sites and monuments).

At the same time, the EU also defines its measures for success in protecting its critical infrastructures, as follows:

  • Government identification and establishment of inventories of critical infrastructures in their jurisdictions according to priorities;
  • Businesses collaborating within sectors and with government to share information, and reduce the likelihood of incidents causing widespread or lengthy disruption to critical infrastructures;
  • The establishment of a common approach EU wide to tackling the security of critical infrastructures through cooperation of all public and private actors.

A global baseline and a clarification of the indicators of this target, similar to the process undertaken by the EU above, would be needed. This exercise shows, however, that if the indicators are defined, global baselines set and measurements systematically collected, then the target can become quantitative. If any of the conditions above are not sufficiently met then it makes the target both quantitative and qualitative.

This means that this is an ambitious target and doable. If any of the conditions above are not sufficiently met then it makes the Target (d) both quantitative and qualitative. It requires a global baseline and systematic measurement.


Target (e)

Although this target is purely quantitative, its adopted indicators has two components – the first component, the “number of countries that adopt and implement national disaster risk reduction strategies,” is quantitative, and the second component, “in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015 -2030,” is qualitative.

This second component can be based on Sendai Framework paragraph 27 (b), which calls on States and other stakeholders to “Adopt and implement national and local disaster risk reduction strategies and plans, across different timescales with targets, indicators and time frames, aimed at preventing the creation of risk, the reduction of existing risk and the strengthening of economic, social, health and environmental resilience.”

However, a qualitative review of the new strategies as per above criteria and within one time frame may not be enough to determine if it is “Sendai compliant”. This is because for many countries, national strategies are a progression of actions built up from past strategies and plans.

For example, a review done by UNISDR of national strategies on DRR for the Asia Pacific region in 2012 found that national situations, status of prior plans and actions are important issues to consider in order to determine the effectiveness of present strategies.

In the Asia Pacific Disasters Report produced by UNISDR in 2012, it was found for example that the HFAs priorities for action have been covered in all of the strategies reviewed, although each HFA priority has been elaborated differently in the various country documents. This is shown in Figure 4 below.

This finding reflects the relative urgencies of one HFA priority subject area compared to others given different governance structures, institutional mechanisms and DRR capacities in place in each country. For instance, HFA priority area 4 has been covered least in Pakistan and Lao People’s Democratic Republic, while the second HFA priority received the least attention in the New Zealand and Myanmar strategies.

This does not suggest that a country’s DRR strategy is necessarily lacking in a particular HFA priority. For example New Zealand has made significant progress in early warning and capacity building for risk assessments since the late 1990s. The development of “a comprehensive understanding of New Zealand’s hazard-scape” has been singled out as an outstanding objective in New Zealand’s current National Civil Defence Emergency Management Strategy (2007).   

This means that the target has three layers of issues that need measurement if it is to fully serve the ideals of the Sendai Framework – first is a purely quantitative aspect of the number of countries with national DRR plans and strategies. A second aspect is the qualitative aspect of the elements of each plan as per Sendai Framework paragraph 27(b). Finally, the third aspect is qualitative on the relevance of the various elements within Sendai Para 27 (b) to the national situation and context. At the moment, the Sendai Framework indicators tend to leave both the qualitative aspects noted here to countries to decide on, and to come up with its own simplified way to determine if its strategy and plan are indeed “Sendai compliant.”

The above formulation of the target means that this is an ambitious target but doable. Target (e) is quantitative, requires a global baseline and systematic measurement.


Target (f)

There are two components to target (f). The first is the measure of sustainable support to developing countries, and the other is the national actions for implementation by the same developing countries.

On the measure of support to developing countries, the indicators of this target specifies measures of official international support (ODA plus other official flows) for national disaster risk reduction actions provided bilaterally or by multilateral agencies.

There are two ways of measuring this target, which are not mutually exclusive – one is global and the other is national. For global measurement of this target, the OECD DRR marker must be finalized and applied and a global baseline need to be measured. This global measurement is important because of the trend in DRR international financing and international cooperation at the moment.

For example, according to a 2013 ODI report, donor financing is heavily concentrated with Japan and the World Bank accounting for more than 50% of the total sources of financing. DRR financial support is also heavily provided in relatively few, mostly middle-income countries (China, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Philippines, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, India, Brazil, and Turkey). Financing of DRR goes to those countries ranked high on the mortality risk index, but the funding is considerably inequitable. The mortality risk index does not include drought, which is prevalent in many LDCs. This means that countries affected by drought have received very little international DRR financing so far. So a global monitoring of this target would need to measure the gradual equitable distribution of global financing on DRR, and also way to measure trends away from the use of mortality only a guide for financial support given to developing countries.

For national monitoring, a national DRR investment tracking methodology needs to be developed and applied to measure the national actions for implementation that the international cooperation complements.


Target (g)

This is a qualitative target. It is ambitious and doable.

There are two elements in this target - multi-hazard early warning systems, and risk information and assessment. And, there are two sub-components - availability of, and access to these systems, information and assessments.

In a report submitted by WMO as a background paper to the GAR 2015, titled “Synthesis of the status and trends with the development of early warning systems” outlines the components of an early warning system as:

  • Risk knowledge
  • Monitoring and warning service
  • Dissemination
  • Emergency response capacity
  • Policy, legislative, and institutional coordination aspects

To measure the first component related to the availability of a multi-hazard early warning system must first measure all of the components above, many of which are qualitative. The additional issue of access to early warning systems is another issue that will be difficult to measure.

In 2006, a global survey conducted by WMO, found the following gaps in early warning systems covering various hazards.

Nationally, coverage of early warning systems for the most relevant and prevalent hazards will have to be the measure of the availability of the systems.

However, progress in the availability globally of early warning systems under the Sendai period will have to be measured also in the coverage of the identified early warning gaps in 2006.

We can thus conclude that this target would mostly be a qualitative target. It is ambitious and doable and will require a global baseline and systematic measurement.


Opportunities to Address the "Sendai Seven" Challenges

At the start of the implementation period of the Sendai Framework, the real opportunity is to explore what actions are required to reduce economic losses and address target (c). For example, it would be ideal to start exploring what enabling policy and institutional arrangements are / should be in place, and how can Governments ensure that development strategies limit the creation of new vulnerabilities and lessen exposure to hazards. It would also be good to explore what can be done to scale up these efforts to be in a position to measure economic losses due to disasters.

The Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) and achievements on the Millennium Development Goals can take credit for reducing mortality linked to hydrometeorologi­cal disasters, yet it is clear that we are making little headway in dealing with economic losses caused by the same disasters.

The trend of reduced mortality is proof that development investments in activities such as early warning, preparedness and contingency planning yield positive gains if invested in reducing vulnerability of people and communities.

However, the same development model, when not focused in building resilience, also drives the creation of new risks, by exacerbating hazards, creating vulnerabilities and widening exposure. For example, we are now facing an increasing and unmitigated trend of economic losses due to disasters on the public and private sector. For the first time globally, annual economic losses from disasters exceeded $100 billion for five consecutive years ($132 billion in 2010, $364 billion in 2011, $156 billion in 2012, $119 billion in 2013, and $110 billion in 2014). During these last 10 years of record-breaking temperatures and rainfall, we have seen economic losses close to $1.4 trillion.

While climate change intensifies and makes climate related hazards more erratic and uncertain, economic progress, the rapid pace of urbanization and population growth has combined to concentrate people, jobs and property in areas exposed to the very hazards that climate change has now intensified.

There are few examples of countries that succeeded in reversing the rise of economic losses in both the public and private sector. Strategies such as pre-disaster recovery planning, land-use planning, risk-sensitive investments, reducing risks in global supply chains and stronger insurance mechanisms can play a role in preventing the creation of new risks.

Protecting investments and reducing economic losses require a number of urgent measures. These measures are already embodied in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, which call for a major commitment to risk-sensitive investment, particularly in critical infrastructure; ecosystem management and land-use planning; and for the development and design of partnerships to build resilience, especially with the private sector. 

The global need for infrastructure investment is estimated at $4.5-5.4 trillion per year, with an additional premium of 9-27% to make this infrastructure low-carbon and climate resilient. However, there are major constraints to mobilizing private capital to meet this need, especially in developing countries. 

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are at the forefront of high exposure and vulnerability. The private sector contributes from 70 to 85 percent of total economic investment in most countries. Therefore the extent to which these investments are risk-informed is one of the determinants of the future of disaster risk . Investors need to place sufficient attention to the exposure of businesses to hazards and the threat this represents to profits, competitiveness and sustainability.

Also, disaster risk management (DRM) is a vital contribution to sustainable economic growth and to sustainable economic development in general. It should also be viewed as an opportunity to enhance competitiveness and strengthen resilience to increasing risks and shocks. 

In the short term, resilient investments can accelerate jobs and growth. In the medium term, DRM can help ensuring structural sustainability of public and private finances, by reducing the detrimental impact of natural and man-made disasters on growth and public and private budgets. In the long-term, good disaster risk management provides strong economic sense

In addition, expanding financial inclusion, disaster risk and health insurance, social protection and adaptive safety nets, and universal access to early warning systems would also reduce well–being losses from natural disasters. 

View a version of this post, with a full set of data tables, on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/sendai-seven-challenges-opportunities-meeting-global-velasquez

Jerry Velasquez oversees all aspects of the work of the Green Climate Fund Secretariat in relation to mitigation and adaptation. He served previously as Chief of Section at the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, and has also worked for the United Nations Environment Programme.

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