High-Level Panel 5 - Building Back Better: Disaster Risk Reduction and the Recovery Opportunity

  • Date & Time: Thursday 18 June (15:00 - 16:30)
  • Room: 1
  • Interpretation: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish


Building back better following disasters means going beyond restoring the way things were, but rather enabling affected communities to achieve a greater level of resilience through recovery.

However, are we making sufficient progress, learning the right lessons, and tackling the key constraints, in a focused manner? Recent experiences highlight several challenges to be addressed. While it is often said that there is greater openness to accepting risk reduction in the sobering aftermath of a serious disaster, the extent of actual progress with well-designed post disaster recovery is still not clear. Good examples and case studies indicate what is possible and could be scaled-up. But we do not have “preparedness for recovery” and a systematic appreciation of the extent to which risk reduction is being routinely incorporated into post disaster programmes.

The absence of a “tracking system” means that the systematic recording of post disaster experience including on financing for recovery is still a gap. Evidence suggests that the pressure to rebuild quickly means that long-term measures to reduce risks and vulnerabilities may not be given the attention needed, especially in a context where overall recovery funding is often inadequate or unpredictable.

Furthermore, the social, livelihood, and environmental aspects of recovery which are most important to reducing future vulnerabilities (including from climate change), are often neglected, as compared with physical infrastructural repairs. While many disaster-affected communities have shown that local coping and adaptation strategies are crucial to building resilience, sufficient scaleup is still elusive.

Common and validated methods for assessing post disaster losses, damage, and needs are being developed but their universal adoption could be accelerated. Further constraints are inherent in the transitions from humanitarian funding channels which cater for short-term disaster relief to development funding channels which must provide for the sustained investment needed for recovery and risk reduction. Government contingency funding arrangements are relatively
inadequate and while insurance and other new financing mechanisms are being developed, they do not yet reach the poorer and more vulnerable communities. The consistent implementation of resilient recovery is hindered by institutional capacity constraints including the lack of systems that provide strategic direction and connect across sectors. Thus there is a tendency for recovery and reconstruction projects “to stand alone”.

Panel objectives

High Level Panel 5 on “building back better” is expected to take stock of recent experience, identify key lessons and constraints, and recommend critical actions for accelerating the routine inclusion of effective risk reduction in both the policy and practice of post disaster recovery.

In particular it will:

- Provide a strong advocacy message for disaster risk reduction to be an integral part of recovery operations, building on success stories in countries.

- Better define stumbling blocks and deficiency of our support systems that prevent the reduction of risk in the early stages of recovery and the transition to development and identify measure to address these, including institutional and funding challenges.

- Present the current status and experiences in the roll-out of the Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA).


Mr. Mukesh Kapila, World Bank, Washington DC


Mrs. Rachel Shebesh
Rachel Shebesh, Member of the Parliament of the Republic of Kenya, Member of the Pan African Parliament. Vice-Chair of the African parliamentarians network against corruption, member of the taksforce on implementation of the United Nations Convention against corruption.. Champion for the Kenyan disability network and more recently chair of the African parliamentarian initiative on climate risk reduction. Ms Shebesh has been actively involved in mobilization of grassroots women to harness their social, political and economic might for effective engagement in national affairs. Hon Shebesh is also a special adviser to UNIFEM at the Kenya office. Ms Shebesh has a background in design and currently pursuing a degree in political science.

Mr. Dean R. Hirsch
Dean Hirsch is president and chief executive officer of World Vision International and heads a global partnership committed to serving the human needs of the world’s poor. Last year, World Vision assisted some 100 million people in 98 countries. A veteran of world trouble spots including Somalia, Cambodia and North Korea, Hirsch has worked extensively in disaster and post-conflict situations. He has helped set up famine relief in Ethiopia, AIDS prevention efforts in Africa and Asia, and peace building programs in countries such as Bosnia, Rwanda and El Salvador. Under Hirsch’s leadership, World Vision’s income has increased five-fold.

Dr. Surin Pitsuwan
After an eminent teaching and scholar career, Dr. Surin was elected eight times to Parliament in Thailand. As an MP, he was appointed Secretary to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Secretary to Deputy Minister of Interior, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs during 1992-1995 and Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1997 to 2001. He served as Chair of the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting and the Chair of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in 1999-2000. In September 1999, while the ASEAN Chair, he led the efforts to get Southeast Asian governments to help restore law and order with the support of the United Nations and the international community, brought about peace and security in East Timor. He was nominated by the Royal Thai Government and endorsed by ASEAN Leaders to be ASEAN Secretary-General for year 2008-2012.”

Mrs. Lorena Cajas Albán
Lorena Cajas Albán’s experience in Risk Management begins as a coordinator of public policy, external cooperation and international coordination for humanitarian relief in threatened areas, and recovery of affected areas. Currently she is the Vice-Minister of Ecuador’s Ministry of Security in the area of risk management, and president of CAPRADE. Among her achievements count the transversalization of risk management as a national state policy, organization of national strategies in risk management and disasters for Ecuador towards 2013, as well as a key strategist of alert plans, emergency and response.

Mr. Bakri Beck
Bakri Beck was trained by the Indonesian National Defense Institute (LEMHANNAS) -the highest level program for government officer. He has been the Head Bureau Rescue/Protection IDP’s for Indonesian National Coordinating Board for Disaster Management 2001, and Incident Commander of 2004 Aceh Tsunami from the first day. He was also the Incident Commander of 2006 Yogyakarta Earthquake. Most recently he has served as a member of ASEAN Humanitarian Task Force for Myanmar Cyclon Nargis 2008-now and is Deputy Chief for Rehabilitation and Reconstruction in National Agency for Disaster Management.

Mr. Jordan Ryan
Mr. Jordan Ryan is Assistant Administrator and Director of the Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery in UNDP since February 2009. From 2006 to 2009, Mr. Ryan was Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator in Liberia. From 2001 to 2005, he was the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Viet Nam, where he was one of the key promoters of the UN Delivering as One. Prior to this, Mr. Ryan worked as Deputy Director and then Director in the Office of the UNDP Administrator in New York from 1996 to 2001. Earlier, Mr. Ryan was UNDP Deputy Resident Representative and Senior Assistant Resident Representative in Viet Nam and China. Before joining the UN, Mr. Ryan was an attorney in New York and California and an international legal consultant in Asia and the Middle East.

Background Papers

> Concept Note [52.24 Kb]


Note: this is an interim report pending publication of the Conference Proceedings from the 2009 Global Platform.

> Report from HLP5 [PDF, 27.63 Kb]

Last updated: 04 December 2020