Rising to the challenge of the High-Level Meeting on the Sendai Framework: Insights from the ISC’s latest disaster risk reduction report

Source(s): International Science Council (ISC)
An old Asian farm worker carrying a basket on his shoulder while standing on the rice terraces.
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On the occasion of the UN High-Level Meeting on the Midterm Review of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, the International Science Council draws attention to its latest disaster risk reduction report.

The report warns that the world is set to miss UN targets for preventing deadly and costly disasters by 2030.

The High-Level Meeting on the Midterm Review of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 (HLM) is a crucial gathering convened by the President of the General Assembly. Set to take place from 18-19 May 2023 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, the HLM serves as a platform for Member States, United Nations partners, and stakeholders to reflect on the Midterm Review’s findings and recommendations. It aims to analyze the shifting context and emerging issues since 2015 and identify necessary course corrections and new initiatives.

During the meeting, delegates will discuss ways in which stakeholders can effectively address the systemic nature of risk, and encourage world leaders to engage in strategies that realize the goals of the Sendai Framework, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement, and other relevant agreements.

Against this backdrop, the ISC’s recently published Report for the Mid-Term Review of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction shows how a lack of long-term planning and investment has put the world off track for reducing the impact of shocks and hazards by 2030.

The report highlights key issues regarding nature-based solutions, the importance of addressing displacement caused by climate change, and the need to address mental health issues resulting from disasters. It acknowledges that current development paradigms undervalue nature and undermine sustainable development. Recommendations include redesigning disaster and risk governance, ensuring financing reaches the most vulnerable, improving early warning systems and risk data quality, monitoring vulnerability, enhancing risk communication, and fostering transdisciplinary collaborations.

The report also suggests several key actions for enhancing disaster risk reduction. These include strengthening territorial-level risk governance, aligning financial resources with risk reduction goals, developing community-led nature-based solutions, establishing multi-hazard early-warning systems, improving risk assessment methods, piloting innovative risk communication approaches, and fostering transdisciplinary collaboration between science, policy, and practice.

Co-authors of the ISC report, Roger S. Pulwarty and Charlotte Benson, were mobilized to shed light on critical aspects of disaster risk reduction. In a thought-provoking op-ed, Pulwarty emphasizes the significance of reducing biodiversity loss in the aftermath of natural disasters. He argues that nature-based solutions offer not only environmental benefits but also substantial economic advantages compared to other approaches. Pulwarty suggests that prioritizing nature-based solutions can be a missed opportunity to mitigate the destructive impacts of natural hazards effectively.

Charlotte Benson draws attention to the underinvestment in disaster risk reduction. In her compelling blog, Benson highlights the consequences of neglecting preparedness while facing the mounting costs of recovery and reconstruction. She emphasizes that this underinvestment affects not only individuals and communities but also has wider implications for society as a whole.

As the world gathers for the UN High-Level Meeting on the Midterm Review of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the International Science Council’s report serves as a wake-up call, highlighting the critical need for long-term planning and investment in disaster risk reduction. The challenges we face in mitigating the impacts of disasters are multifaceted, from biodiversity loss to underinvestment and inadequate preparedness.

However, by embracing nature-based solutions, strengthening risk governance, and prioritizing the most vulnerable, the global community can make significant strides towards achieving the goals of the Sendai Framework and ensure a safer, more resilient future for all.

It is time for global leaders, policy-makers, and communities to come together, heed the warnings of the scientific community, and take decisive action to protect lives, livelihoods, and the planet as a whole.

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