By Denis McClean
Dubrovnik - UNISDR, the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, is implementing a key recommendation on National Platforms for Disaster Risk Reduction from the Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, "to further review how they can best support domestic decision-making and international cooperation."
UNISDR Chief, Margareta Wahlström, said today: "One of the most significant achievements of the world's first global agreement on reducing disaster risk, the Hyogo Framework for Action, has been the creation of 81 National Platforms for Disaster Risk Reduction around the world. Our goal is to have credible and robust National Platforms in as many countries as possible by 2015.
"They are making a significant contribution as I have heard this week at the European Forum on Disaster Reduction. However, they have developed in many diverse ways and this review will help to identify what are the essential ingredients for a successful National Platform. The review will also provide guidance on the ideal mix of stakeholders and ensure important groups are not overlooked."
In his report last year to the General Assembly on implementation of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, the Secretary-General stated that while national platforms were a "potential source for guidance for informed decision-making and awareness [this] has not been fully utilized."
There has been a wide-ranging discussion this week at the European Forum on Disaster Risk Reduction on the capacity of national platforms.
Representing the Netherlands National Platform, Corsmas Goemans, said: "Accountability lies with the National Platform for ensuring that disaster risk reduction is well understood and integrated into important areas of activity such as health, education, planning, agriculture, housing and infrastructure."
Mr. Goemans who is a senior adviser with the Ministry of Security and Justice, added: "There is a need to show people and organizations that they are a part of disaster risk reduction and to ask them to make it visible. Visibility will help to improve local ownership. We need transparency in the sense that we need to let people know what others are doing."
There are seven Working Group Members - Germany, Sweden, Senegal, Indonesia, Philippines, Ecuador and Mexico - supporting the review including the dissemination of a questionnaire in the next week to all existing National Platforms with a view to preparing a report on the issue for next year's Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction.
Mette Lindahl-Olsson of the Swedish Civil Contingency Agency, said: "The National Platform review is definitely needed. We need to see what is working and what is not. This will help us to understand the value of the platforms now and in the future. I think that the main actors to make something happen are at the local level. National Platforms must support municipalities, for example, in areas such as exchange of experiences when they are tackling similar challenges."
Ms. Lindahl-Olsson, who heads the Natural Hazards and Critical Infrastructure Section, described the Swedish National Platform as a coordination mechanism with a membership of 19 authorities, representatives from county boards and local community associations, who pool information and speak with a common voice on disaster risk reduction to good effect such as the recent creation of a height elevation data base for Sweden.