Almaty - A final season of regional consultations with governments on the Post-2015 agreement on disaster risk reduction got underway this week in Almaty, Kazakhstan, as top disaster management officials from eight countries in Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus came together.
Regional Platforms for Disaster Risk Reduction are scheduled by UNISDR and its partners from now until the end of the year in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, the Americas, Middle East and Europe which will focus on nine years of implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action and the content of a new post-2015 agreement to be adopted at the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction which takes place in Sendai, Japan, next March.
World Conference coordinator and head of UNISDR’s head of Regional Programmes, Neil McFarlane, told the gathering: “Managing risk will determine how sustainable the region will be in the years to come, as disaster economic losses continue to rise and have negative impacts on GDPs.”
Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan suffer from a wide range of hazards including floods and earthquakes. Over a 30-year period from 1980, 14 million people were hit by 131 major disaster events with economic losses of $3.8 billion.
An estimated 40% to 60% of GDP is threatened by climate change, in particular the agriculture sector. Major challenges are also posed by rapid urbanization and high levels of poverty affecting 30% of the population.
The two day meeting was attended by more than 150 representatives of Ministries in charge of disaster risk management, health, education, social protection as well civil society and NGO representatives, and international organizations.
The consultations on the substance of the region’s contribution to the new Post-2015 agreement on disaster risk reduction was held in March, 2013, and identified as key issues: the need for greater regional and sub-regional coordination, more information sharing on disaster losses, broader stakeholder involvement in disaster risk reduction and more risk-informed planning.
Gender inequality was also featured as an important area of concern. Despite positive steps taken by national governments to enhance the legal status of women, many gender-based inequalities persist and are still seen as an obstacle to building the disaster resilience of communities.
This week’s consultation concluded with the overarching message that Disaster Risk Reduction is Development, therefore it is fundamental to integrate disaster risk reduction into the entire Post-2015 Development Agenda and the expected new universal agreement on climate change and carbon emissions.
A set of priority recommendations has been put forward in the areas of risk assessments; regional cooperation for information sharing and capacity strengthening; ensuring school safety and strengthening the role of women in resilience building. Strong voluntary commitments were expressed by the governments, civil society organizations, academia and the UN agencies to actively support the implementation of the recommendations made at this consultation and urge their consideration for inclusion in the Post-2015 Framework for DRR.
“We need to focus our efforts on more risk sensitive investments and stronger accountability measures. The new framework provides a unique opportunity to secure growth and protect development gains against disasters,” commented Mr. McFarlane.