Expert of the Week   for  30 Jun - 06 Jul 2014

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Neil Mcfarlane

Head DRR Coordination Section

United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) Expertise:  Policy advice for humanitarian aid, development, and climate change. He is also an expert advocate for disaster risk reduction.

Neil McFarlane works for the United Nations Office for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR). He is Chief of Regional Programmes and Disaster Risk Reduction Coordinator and is the coordinator of the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction. He also is in charge of organizing the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction. Neil McFarlane was Counsellor at the Australian Permanent Mission in Geneva where he was responsible for the Australian aid program with Geneva-based international humanitarian and health organisations. During this time he was Chair of the Donor Support Group in the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (UNOCHA), assisted in the Presidency of the Executive Committee of the UN Office for High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), was the Australian Alternate Member on the Board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and a regular delegate to the relevant support mechanisms of the WHO, UNAIDS, and UNISDR. Dr McFarlane holds a Bachelor of Arts from the Australian National University (1987), a Master in Development Studies from Deakin University (1994); and a Doctor of Philosophy (Development Economics) from Deakin University (2005). Over the last twenty years Neil McFarlane has gained intimate knowledge and experience in international development cooperation both overseas and in Australia. He has worked at local, national and international levels in the delivery of aid, humanitarian, health and climate change adaptation programs.

Preparing for the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction and its first Preparatory Committee

Read more on the context

QQuestion by Hon Alfredo Arquillano, Jr

How can communities participate at the WCDRR as they need to express their voice directly?

Hon Alfredo Arquillano, Jr Vice Mayor of San Francisco | Municipality of San Francisco

APosted on 04 Jul 2014

Communities are very important in the development of the post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction and the participation in the World Conference in Sendai in 2015.  As it is an official UN Conference,  there are criteria on how non-Member States are officially recognized, in the formal components of the World Conference and the preparatory  process.  
Note that there will also be  a large number of public forum and study tours to engage  with.  For further information on participation please see: 

QQuestion by Mr Raphael Aipaina

Policies are in place for people to follow and implement but how any country prepare for disaster strikes?
what equipment do we need? UN Representative in any country has sufficient fund for Humanitarian Aids?
What is UN Humanitarian Action Plan?

Mr Raphael Aipaina Principal Statistician | Solomon Island Government

APosted on 04 Jul 2014

How a country prepares for disaster depends on the specific situation and capacities of the country. The Hyogo Framework of Action gives overall guidance for what areas do look at in reduction of risk (e.g. early warning systems, preparedness, public awareness and education, addressing underlying risk factors, risk assessments.
It is then up the national level (with governments in lead) to determine what needs to be done and resources required to do disaster risk measures and response and recover should a disaster strike. 
As regards to funding, some countries ensure that certain financial schemes (insurance, for instance) are set up in order to finance recovery of critical infrastructure so that after a disaster the main coordination functions of the country remains intact and thus can find more effective solutions to response and recovery.The UN Representatives main role is to coordinate the UN programs in-country.  In the case of a disaster they also take, or ensure there is an appointed, UN Humanitarian Coordinator.  If there is urgent need of support after a disaster, a country can appeal for funding to the international community.  There are several mechanisms (for example the Central Emergency Response Fund, humanitarian appeals, common humanitarian action plans) that are coordinated by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA)

Please see the following links for more information: provides details on Common Humanitarian Action Plans, which outline humanitarian action in a given country or region. 


As the World Conference draws nearer, it is very important to have a true synergy cut across every player in the fight against boundless enemy 'disaster' as to have a resilience nations and communities ...


APosted on 03 Jul 2014

As you say, synergies are  a sine-qua-non for more coherence and cooperation between all actors who are involved and interested in disaster risk reduction.  The Hyogo Framework of Action and its successor, the post-2015 disaster risk reduction framework, emphasize the need for synergies at all levels.

QQuestion by Ms Dongmei Guo

Dear Mr Neil McFarlane,
I am a postgraduate student of disaster nursing in the Polyu of Hongkong . As a disaster nurse, what are we can do in DRR or DRM? Thank you very much!

Ms Dongmei Guo head nurse | Zhongshan Hospital of Xiamen University

APosted on 03 Jul 2014

As a nurse, you are well aware of the things that are needed to be prepared before a disaster strikes, and what the challenges are during the response and recovery period.  By knowing this, you are better equipped than most to know what is needed in terms of plans, infrastructure, training, equipment, and supplies.

My advice is to try and be part of a national platform or national work on disaster risk reduction/management.  The views and experiences of all stakeholders is important.  In addition, you can help by participating in campaigns such as safe hospitals.  More information about the ‘Safe Hospitals’ campaign here:

QQuestion by Ms Gerardo Huertas

Dear Neil:
A variety of professions influencing resilience of rural societies with livelihoods based on farm animals are lacking DRR training, (engineers & veterinarians)... Is there a campaign/plan similar to "Safe Hospitals" for the Academia?

Ms Gerardo Huertas Disaster Ops Director/LAC | World Animal Protection
Cook Islands

APosted on 03 Jul 2014

At the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in May 2013 we had a very good discussion on animals and how important it is to prepare and protect and build resilience for working animals in particular as  they are the basis for the livelihoods of many people.   Please see the outcomes of this event on page 55 of the Proceedings of the 2013 Global Platform (session: “Animals: Build Community Resilience with Innovative Solutions” at ).  At the moment there is no specific campaign related to farm animals vis-à-vis livelihoods and resilience, but I know several groups are looking into the issue.  We know it is an important area of work and would suggest that organizations like yours look for ways to provide training and knowledge where needed in this field. 

QQuestion by Dipankar Chyau Patnaik

In the run up to the WCDRR, and the post 2015 dialogs, how do we combine energies are to advocate for common rights for the vulnerable populace instead of having multiple streams like UNFCC, HFA and SDGs

Dipankar Chyau Patnaik

APosted on 03 Jul 2014

The World Conference in Sendai  and the other international agendas  in 2015 (especially climate change and sustainable development goals) and the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016 will need to be mutually reinforcing and coherent between each other.  There is a workshop at the first Preparatory Committee on 15 July  2014 on this very issue.  For more information see the paper on website .   Targeting action to  support vulnerable populations is a key area of work in risk reduction.  A further point is to really start to address the creation of new  risk  and deal with existing risk  –  unless we do so vulnerable populations will remain exposed. 

QQuestion by Mr Edward Turvill

Focusing on the 'national level', what recommendations would you give to National Disaster Management Organisations and other DRR stakeholders from SIDS who are preparing to attend the Sendai Conference?

Mr Edward Turvill DRR Advisro | European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Pro

APosted on 03 Jul 2014

The most important recommendation I can give is to influence your national delegations to the Preparatory Committee meetings in July and November 2014 on the points you want to raise on the post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction and the topics to discuss at the World Conference from 14-18 March in Sendai, Japan. 

Feedback from partners at both the recent 6th Pacific Platform (in early June 2014) and the 6th Asia Ministerial Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction  (in late June 2014) confirmed that SIDS must participate in the global conversations on risk reduction.

According to the latest Global Risk Report (2013) Pacific SIDS are some of the most at risk nations in the world and particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.  In addition, the SIDS risk reduction measures  and climate change adaptation is invaluable and the rest of the global community can learn from their shared experience.  For example, the Pacific will be the first region in the world to develop an integrated regional climate and disaster resilient development strategy.  The Maldives are also emerging as a champion on the integration of risk reduction and climate change.  
Another message from the recent regional platforms around the world is that Governments cannot build resilient communities on their own, it must involve the whole community including the private sector.  This is particularly important in SIDS where country capacity and resources may be limited and resilience to disasters is essential to ensuring their sustainable development due to the eroding of development gains from the losses caused by the increased frequency of disasters.. 
In general, and taking into account the differences between countries and territories, it is important that SIDS increase national capacities in planning for and dealing with hazards. This capacity building covers many areas and each country will need different things.  There are, however, many issues they share also. A strong participation in regional platforms or regional disaster risk reduction discussions is a good way to share and learn from each other and also to fine-tune a common political agenda in disaster risk reduction.

There is also good cases we have seen from organizing national platforms or national coordinating bodies for disaster risk reduction with the participation of varied actors that can play a role in together building a plan for creating the needed capacities nationally. The information at can be useful in this regard and can give you some practical ideas.

QQuestion by Mr Oumar Camara

Cher Mc Farlane,
Merci beaucoup pour cette initiative qui rentre dans le cadre du donné et du recevoir en matière de RRC.
Je voudrai savoir les grands axes que ce comité préparatoire aura à discuter ?

Mr Oumar Camara National focal point for Guinea,Head of Rehabilita | Service National de Gestion des Catastrophes et Ur

APosted on 03 Jul 2014

Il y a précisément neuf points à l’ordre du jour du Comité préparatoire qui sont:1. Ouverture de la session ;  2. Élection des présidents et des autres membres du Bureau ; 3. Adoption de l’ordre du jour ; 4. Organisation des travaux. ; 5. Organisation de la Conférence mondiale ; 6. Examen du cadre de réduction des risques de catastrophe pour l’après-2015 ; 7. Examen du rapport du Comité préparatoire sur les travaux de sa première session ; 8. Questions diverses ; and 9. Clôture de la session.

QQuestion by Ms TOGO Hortense

Je voudrais que les documents et différents questionnaires soient traduits en français pour nous permettre de mieux participer.

Ms TOGO Hortense Directeur Général | ministère de l'intérieur/ Direction Générale de la

APosted on 03 Jul 2014

Tous les documents officiels seront très prochainement disponibles dans les six langues officielles des Nations Unies. Je vous invite à consulter notre site web dans les prochains jours à venir.

QQuestion by Mr Ali Maher

Since I am an Urban Planner who designs new cities and urban areas in Afghanistan, my question is: what key issues and guidelines should I consider and use in order to prevent natural disasters in hazards areas like flood, land slide and earthquake.

Mr Ali Maher Urban Planner | MUDA

APosted on 03 Jul 2014

There will be expert sessions on urban planning at the World Conference from 14-18 March 2015, in Sendai, Japan. A good starting point for obtaining more information on urban planning and hazards is which is the web page of the ‘Making Cities Resilient’ campaign and where you can find a lot of information and contacts to start.


Respected sir,
I am a MBA (Self Management & Crisis Management) student in India. How can we attend your conference?


APosted on 02 Jul 2014

Please refer to the FAQ at for information on attendance. As this is an official United Nations conference, there are rules as regards the participation for the formal segments of the World Conference.  Of course there are also a large number of public forums and public side events one can participate in.


Revered Sir,
I welcome your unique steps of Disaster Risk Management. It is a global issue of the nation. My request is that, kindly organize the conference each an every country on the matter to easy to access the people.


APosted on 02 Jul 2014

The aim of what we try to achieve is precisely that: Successful disaster risk reduction is about better, secure quality of life for all countries and communities. As the secretariat and coordinator of a large network, UNISDR always advocates for all actors (national and local government, communities, the private sector, NGOs and many others) to engage in disaster risk reduction policy and planning.

QQuestion by Mr Syed Harir Shah

How the uncertainties and controversies in the historical context for identifying the climate problem, links to other issues, air pollution, and the evidence for extreme as well as irreversible climate changes and sustainable development be addressed

Mr Syed Harir Shah Program Manager DRR/CCA | German Red Cross

APosted on 02 Jul 2014

We need to recognize the change of climate as regards the frequency and intensity of weather related hazards rather than focus on the mitigation aspects.  The disaster risk reduction community is looking at practical ways to propose, adapt to and reduce the risks.

We need coherency and mutual reinforcement between climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction and sustainable development, not parallel processes.

QQuestion by Ms Joanne Tay

It's challenging the get a buy in from potential donors to invest into preparedness and resilience work because the ROI is non tangible. How can we make DRR more appealing for potential donors whether individuals or corporations?

Ms Joanne Tay Asia Pacific Emergency Comms Specialist | World Vision

APosted on 02 Jul 2014

Indeed sometimes it is a challenge to present to donors and also governments on the opportunities for investing in disaster risk reduction. There is actually a very clear benefit of investing in disaster risk reduction (DRR), including resilience and preparedness, and there are models that can provide good estimations of the expected savings (i.e. prevented losses) when we invest in disaster risk reduction programmes and strategies.
Estimates include probabilistic modelling that takes into account many factors including the behaviour of hazards and the vulnerability of the area under consideration. 
On PreventionWeb the Global Assessment Report in 2013 provides figures and methodologies that are used to provide this information.

Another example is the ‘CAPRA’ (Probabilistic Risk Assessment) Program, an initiative that started in January 2008, as a partnership between the Center for Coordination of Natural Disaster Prevention in Central America (CEPREDENAC), the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) and The World Bank as a means to raise awareness among client countries in Central America by providing them with a set of tools that would let them better understand the risk of adverse natural events. See for detailed information on this.

What is required now is to make the strong economic case to donors as well as Ministries of Finance of the longer term benefits of investing in disaster risk reduction (e.g. reduce humanitarian response costs, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, more informed public on disaster preparedness, land  use planning, etc).In short, you are right in signalling the return of investment as a key issue. We hope that with the right information we can motivate donors and governments alike to see the potential benefit of reducing risks.

QQuestion by Mr Syed Harir Shah

How, bilateral, institutional arrangement at global level has reduced disaster and climate change related threats? Academically and theoretically a lot of work has been done, but how much you are satisfy with the practical application?

Mr Syed Harir Shah Program Manager DRR/CCA | German Red Cross

APosted on 02 Jul 2014

A lot of work has been done, both at the theoretical and practical levels, during the last ten years over the life of the current Hyogo Framework  of Action (HFA). This was also clear during the consultations on a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction.The review of the HFA implementation shows the amount of work done and that awareness has increased. provides a nice overview.

There is also much more cooperation and planning between the Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) communities.  Having said this, I think that we are just starting on the serious practical application. Disaster risk reduction is a relatively young field and much work lies ahead of us.
The pieces are in place and now it up to all of us to commit to implementation.

QQuestion by Dr Piyush Rout

What should be the expectation of Local Governments from WCDRR 2015 as Local Governments today handle majority of World Population that lives in Cities with very limited responsibility in Disaster Management Framework they get from higher Government ?

Dr Piyush Rout Co Founder Cum Executive Director | Local Governance Network

APosted on 02 Jul 2014

The Hyogo Framework of Action (HFA) recognizes that local governments have a strong role in disaster risk management. This has also been confirmed through the consultations on a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction.  Much of the risk reduction efforts take place at the local government level.  Good coordination with national authorities is also very important. I expect that the post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction will build on the HFA and that it will point to the need for more capacities at the local government level.

QQuestion by Mrs Uche Aigbokhai


I was in the African Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Abuja (Nigeria) a few months ago as a SHELL delegate. The experience was fantastic especially in my syndicate which was led by Kiki and supported by Princess Abze Djigma, CEO of AbzeSolar S.A.
Just wondering what I will need from your team to apply for a Japan visa to come over for next year’s conference as Shell will not be sponsoring this trip.
I would not mind sponsoring myself as the knowledge I got in the AFRP did not equate to the cost.
Hope to hear from you soon.

Mrs Uche Aigbokhai SPDC Flood monitoring focal point | Shell Nigeria

APosted on 02 Jul 2014

The following links provide the logistic information.
A visa for entry into Japan may be required. Participants concerned are strongly advised to seek information on requirements applicable in their case from Japanese diplomatic or consular missions in their home country. A list of the Japanese diplomatic and consular missions can be obtained at:
Where a visa is required, applicants are strongly advised to apply as early as possible. Special visa arrangements will be made for the accredited participants from countries where no Japanese mission exists. The details on such arrangements will be provided by the Host Country authorities. When applying for a visa, representatives of Major Groups should present the letter of invitation sent by the UN confirming their pre-registration to the Conference. Presenting the letter the participant will be exempted from paying the visa fee.

QQuestion by Mr Hari Krishna Nibanupudi

Is there a scope for organizations who are not going to the first preparatory committee meeting, to provide inputs to the discussion on Suggested elements for the post-2015 framework for DRR?

Mr Hari Krishna Nibanupudi Senior Disaster Risk Reduction Specialist | International Center for Integrated Mountain Devel

APosted on 02 Jul 2014

You can contact your Organizing Partners. All contacts are available at One role of  Organizing Partners is facilitate the preparation of official statements on behalf of the major group to relevant sessions and events of the World Conference and its Preparatory Committees by coordinating and consulting with stakeholders.

QQuestion by Dr Diego Pons

Dear Neil, Is there any protocol in UNISDR for the assesment of environmental emergencies effects on agricultural activities?.
Thank you.

Dr Diego Pons Climate change research | INTA

APosted on 02 Jul 2014

UNISDR doesn’t have specific protocols as we are not an executive or implementing agency.  Our role is more to serve as a coordinating body and to promote the HFA.
We work closely with environmental and agricultural-base agencies (like UNEP and FAO) who have who have quite advanced disaster risk reduction programmes and strategies including risk assessments.
On the PreventionWeb ( we have a large collection of information and references where you will be able to find information on environmental emergencies and its relation to agriculture. I just did a search on the preventionweb search engine on that specific theme and found many good references which will serve you.

QQuestion by Ms Lizz Harrison

How can NGOs who do not have ECOSOC consultative status attend WCDRR? The website says we can apply for special accreditation but then the request for accreditation questionnaire for this on CSO-Net is not available. Thanks!

Ms Lizz Harrison Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergencies Advisor | Y Care International
United Kingdom

APosted on 01 Jul 2014

Organizations currently not in consultative status with the ECOSOC, and who wish to attend and contribute to the World Conference and the Preparatory Committee meetings can apply to the Conference secretariat for special accreditation at ECOSOC registration system.

The application for special accreditation to attend the First Preparatory Committee meeting, Geneva, Switzerland is now closed. I invite you to submit your request for Second Preparatory Committee meeting, Geneva, Switzerland  (17-18 November 2014) by 15 September 2014 and for the World Conference once it opens end of July 30 until 30 November 2014

QQuestion by Ms Lucrecia Almaraz

According to your experience, which is the most efficient way to make possible cooperation between different actors to mainstream disaster risk management, especially in developing countries?

Thank you very much

Ms Lucrecia Almaraz Public Policy Evaluation | CENAPRED

APosted on 01 Jul 2014

There are several ways to promote good cooperation.  One of them, is to put in place a mechanism we call a ‘national coordinating platform’ or a ‘national platform for disaster risk reduction’. In such set-up, which can be as informal or formal as the country desires, several ministries and other actors can be invited to hold regular meeting and jointly analyze the national situation and what can be done to increase cooperation.  The aim of this is creating an environment where institutions start talking to each other in an organized and structured fashion. In our experience, over time, typically a few years, the set-up of the ‘national platforms’ helps to increase cooperation substantially and also promotes the creation of more realistic planning for the future as regards risk management strategies. provides a nice entry point for knowing more on national platforms.

QQuestion by Mr Broja Gopal Saha

Kazol, a woman with disability from flood prone area of Bangladesh wants to see, 'promotion of inclusive early warning system' in the Public awareness and education section (c) of Suggested elements document. Your comments will be shared with her.

Mr Broja Gopal Saha Assistant Director | Centre for Disability in Development (CDD)

APosted on 01 Jul 2014

A key aspect of the suggested elements for the post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction (A/CONF.224/PC(I)/6) is public awareness which need to target all groups including civil society and people living with disabilities. In addition, early warning systems as part of the existing Hyogo Framework of Action will need strengthening on the post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction.

QQuestion by Ms MA BAPTISTA

Is it possible to propose thematic sessions for the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction ?
In case these sessions are already decided where can we consult that list?


APosted on 01 Jul 2014

Based on the thematic issues raised in the consultation on the post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction, the secretariat with the host government and the Bureau members is developing the sessions of the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction.

There is a preliminary agenda which will be updated shortly with more specific sessions. Side events  application will also be released on the World Conference website in coming days.

QQuestion by Mr Broja Gopal Saha

Kazol, a woman with disability urged to consider disability issue in post-2015 framework. The Plan of Action (c) can mention 'people including women, children, elderly and persons with disabilities' instead of 'people' ? I will pass your comments to her

Mr Broja Gopal Saha Assistant Director | Centre for Disability in Development (CDD)

APosted on 01 Jul 2014

Thank you for your question. The term ‘people’ is all-inclusive and as such includes all groups, ages and orientation of people. It will be up to States to be more specific in text as regards high vulnerability groups.

The secretariat  focused  last year International Day for Disaster Reduction (13 October 2013) on some one billion people around the world who live with some form of disability. Representing one-fifth of the world's population, persons living with disabilities have unique contributions, often overlooked, to help reduce the risk of disasters and build resilient societies and communities.

IDDR 2013 intended to switch on and amplify this critical issue of including the needs of persons living with disabilities now and for the post-2015
framework for disaster risk reduction
. Please have a look at