Thank you Mr Zupka, your question goes to the heart of the risk reduction agenda – promoting better disaster risk governance through development planning is essential to reduce existing exposure and vulnerability, as well as to prevent the creation of new disaster risks through urban development. Yet as you point out, there is still much progress to be made. In our review of legislation we found a clear need to better connect and link the laws and regulations that govern development planning with the legislation for disaster risk management.
In terms of reasons for this divide, it’s clear that disaster risk reduction cannot be fully addressed by one law or one institution. Most disaster management legislation will establish a single agency, such as a national disaster management authority, or a civil defence office, to be responsible for fostering more of a holistic disaster risk management approach. However, what we found in our research is that these institutions often need to strengthen their coordination with other sectors and stakeholders, especially those related to development planning and climate change adaptation (CCA), and they also often need clearer mandates, increased authority or better resources and capacity. Additionally, what we’ve found is that the laws and regulations addressing physical development planning (land use planning, construction, building codes, environmental and natural resource management, etc) are not yet specifically addressing DRR, they are administered quite separately from the DRM system and in many cases there are major challenges in their implementation due to a lack of resources and training. And unfortunately, it’s these sectoral laws that are really the pillars of disaster risk governance as they can address underlying vulnerability and prevent new risks from arising.
Despite these challenges, however, we have also seen some positive initiatives. For example, the disaster management law in the Philippines requires the integration of disaster risk reduction and management plans within their development plans at local, regional and national level. Some countries have also developed laws that integrate DRR, CCA and development planning in one coherent approach as in Algeria, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Uruguay, and in a draft law in Vanuatu.
As to key messages or recommendations, obviously it would depend on the country context and their existing risk governance capacity and legal arrangements, but I would encourage authorities to assess whether their disaster management legislation establishes mechanisms for cross-sectoral coordination, especially with laws and institutions that govern development planning at both the national and local levels, as well as ensuring that their sectoral laws include provisions to reduce risk. Providing for enforcement or accountability mechanisms is also important, including by looking at legal liability of government officials, agencies and the private sector, in addition to ensuring that the national legal and policy framework promotes public education and generates leadership for disaster risk reduction that extends across all sectors.