Author: Animesh Kumar

Connecting anticipatory action and disaster risk reduction: perspectives from UNDRR

Source(s): Anticipation Hub
The drought-displaced Afghan children fill water containers to carry to their tents from a tanker at a camp for internally displaced people on the outskirts of Herat province (2019).
solmaz daryani/Shutterstock

How does anticipatory action connect with disaster risk reduction?

Most of the major disasters induced by natural hazards in recent years were forecast before they caused a catastrophic impact. Anticipatory action relies on the ability to forecast potential disasters and to trigger predetermined actions to protect the most vulnerable communities from disaster impacts.

In other words, it is about being smarter, planning ahead, understanding our options and developing actions based on data, evidence and science, including past and evolving disaster losses and projected risk. To achieve this, we need a fit-for-purpose approach in managing not only imminent disaster, but also climate change risks. 

The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) can act as a catalyst in supporting anticipatory action by helping to build preparedness capacity, embedded in a full-spectrum understanding of risk. UNDRR’s Global Risk Assessment Framework aims to build risk-data and risk-analysis capabilities at global and national levels. Building on this, UNDRR’s comprehensive climate and disaster risk management approach helps to: factor in the complex and systemic character of risks in the context of climate change; translate an understanding of these into concrete disaster risk reduction (DRR) actions; and enhance the capacity of governments for anticipatory multi-sectoral planning.

We also need to increase our capacity to act early and ahead of slow onset events, using information across different timescales. For this to happen, we urgently need systemic and mindset changes. We are all too focused on just preparing ahead of disasters and preparing to respond. With the impacts of climate change already being felt on the ground, we need to understand how risks are evolving and develop shock-responsive actions, while ensuring that national policies and administrative rules will allow us to access funds based on probabilistic forecasts. This will require major rethinking and recalibration of long-standing systems and policies.

In May 2022, the seventh Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction will take place in Bali, Indonesia. What will be the main themes at this event?

The next and seventh session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (GP2022) is scheduled to take place from 23-28 May 2022, in Bali, hosted by the Government of Indonesia and organized by UNDRR. It will be the final occasion for all stakeholders to gather globally before the mid-term review of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 - and therefore an important opportunity to not only take stock of progress and challenges, but also to identify good practices to accelerate the implementation of the Sendai Framework at local, national, regional and global levels.

Furthermore, marking the halfway point on our journey to reach the Sendai Framework targets in 2030, GP2022 will generate momentum for governments, stakeholders and the UN system to reconfirm and advance their DRR commitments.

GP2022 will also be the first global platform during the Decade of Action to report against its contribution towards the Sustainable Development Goals. The outcome will need to focus on how to accelerate implementation of the Sendai Framework to achieve tangible results and impact on the ground, and on how to ensure the risk-informed and whole of society approaches necessary to achieve the 2030 Agenda are taken. Being organized in the run-up to COP 27 will ensure a stronger integration between climate change and disaster risk governance processes.

The proposed overall theme of GP2022 is 'From risk to resilience: towards sustainable development for all in a COVID-19 transformed world'. This will focus on how the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the traditional understanding of risk and disaster risk governance. Strengthening disaster risk governance, social and economic recovery from COVID-19, financing for DRR and risk-informed investments and development, investing in local action and empowering the most at risk, and climate action are some of the key themes at GP2022.

And how does anticipatory action intersect with these?

The humanitarian-development nexus, with anticipatory action as a key connect, is one of the focus areas of GP2022. Thematic sessions like ‘Early warning and early action’, ‘Enhancing understanding and management of disaster risk in humanitarian contexts’ and ‘Transformative financing options to build resilience’ will outline different components and enablers of anticipatory action.

Further, the third Multi-Hazard Early Warning conference,  being organized back-to-back with GP2022, will take a 'deep dive' into multi-hazard early warning systems and early action. Organizations and participants will have the opportunity to host side events and innovation platform booths, and speak at the Ignite stage to highlight important topics.

It should be noted that the Center of Excellence for Disaster and Climate Resilience, recently launched by UNDRR and the World Meteorological Organization, has identified multi-hazard early warning and anticipatory action as a key focus area. GP2022 will provide an opportunity to discuss this topic further.

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