Climate Change

Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction 2022: Challenges in building resilience & way forward

Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction 2022 held in Bali in May 2022 offered solutions

By Debabrat Patra
Published: Friday 15 July 2022

The Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, 2022 (GP 2022) took place in Indonesia from May 23-28, 2022. The theme this year was ‘From Risk to Resilience: Towards Sustainable Development For All in a COVID-19 Transformed World’. 

Civil society players recognised the importance of this global platform as it marked the first session since the COVID-19 pandemic. It is also an important first milestone in the mid-term review of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030) as 274 million people will receive humanitarian aid in 2022, according to The United Nations Office for Coordination in Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). 

From COVID-19 pandemic to violent conflicts, forced displacement and climate change, humanity is badly affected. The most vulnerable population, especially women and girls, have been disproportionately impacted. 

The outcome of GP2022 was summarised in the co-chairs’ Bali Agenda for Resilience. The takeaways of the document were:

  • There is a need for a whole-of-society approach to disaster risk reduction (DRR), ensuring no one is left behind
  • DRR must be at the core of development and finance policies, legislation and plans to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)
  • The real cost of disasters is that of inaction, which must be weighed against investments in DRR
  • Current greenhouse gas emission levels far exceed their mitigation, resulting in an increase in frequency and intensity of catastrophic events
  • A participatory and human rights-based approach in DRR planning and implementation is crucial as people are affected differently by disasters
  • The development of multi-hazard early warning systems, inclusive of communities most at risk 
  • The need for a transformative recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, to build back better, greener and more equitably
  • Recovery and reconstruction are most successful when they are community-driven and support existing local structures and resilience-building mechanisms
  • Ecosystems should be considered as critical infrastructure and recognised for their basic services, bringing environmental, socio-economic and cultural benefits
  • DRR and climate change adaptation have the common objective of reducing vulnerability and enhancing capacity as well as resilience
  • Risk understanding remains limited, particularly regarding emerging and future hazards, with government policies largely reactive

So, are these call-to-action messages practicable and will translate into action to support civil society advocacy at the Global Platform? 

First, the whole-of-society approach might ensure resources but will not necessarily ensure focus on the most vulnerable communities and places. 

The second element of call for action – leaving no one behind might ensure the focus but not the resources. 

Corporates will look for maximising the profit, disregarding its effect on the environment. There have been numerous examples for this in the entire world. There are DRR components in investments which far outweighs its negative impact.

Third World countries are now fighting to revive their economy after COVID-19. Here we need to focus on the most vulnerable and their awareness, mobilisation as well as leadership in rebuilding. The double whammy of natural disasters and COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the livelihoods of these people. 

There should be sufficient groundswell at the community level to influence the policy makers to include DRR in all its investments. The most important message given by GPDRR is: A participatory and human rights-based approach in DRR planning and implementation is crucial as vulnerable people are affected acutely by disasters. 

Women, persons with disability, uncared aged, people affected by war and conflicts and informal labour are some of the vulnerable groups which need to be mobilised, led and heard with sensitivity.  

Some other points which should be focused here for resilience building are:

Greater resources for grounded local action, government support and strict enforcement of law and international conventions: This calls for greater budgetary allocation at central and state levels, revision of national / state disaster response funds norms which was there from 2015-2020, more resources at gram panchayat level and so on. 

This is important because only if resources are there, then the district administration would have more resources to act on both at the planning level and action level.  These include evacuation, maintenance of cyclone shelters as well as proper, adequate and timely compensation and so on. 

Governments should strictly impose the law and international conventions related to environmental protection.

Greater focus on building resilience and sustainable livelihoods focusing on community level: We need to build rural infrastructure in the disaster-prone areas in the country but not at the cost of livelihood recovery (climate-resilient, sustainable livelihoods) and meeting of the immediate needs. 

Often there are crores in compensation announced but scarcely reaches the poor and affected. 

In many of the studies by civil societies, it is found that the compensation is ‘equally’ divided among the most-affected, simply to avoid political turmoil. 

In contrast to this, the tribal communities in India adopt such low-cost traditional technologies that help them mitigate the impact of natural disasters like drought.

Greater accountability and transparency in relief and rehabilitation efforts: So much money is being pumped in the disaster relief with little or zero accountability.

The central government announces crores of money as support to the state government, but the state governments do not make it clear where this money is utilised and for whom. 

We need to standardise transparency mechanisms to include transparency boards, clearly mentioning the cost, quality and quantity of relief items, social audits and citizens’ reports. This needs to be the standard practice in all relief operations, both by government and civil society actors.

To conclude, it is heartening that world leaders came together at Bali, Indonesia to discuss DRR and other challenges. It is now equally important to gear up and achieve what Sendai Framework ambitiously talked about seven years ago.

The landscape is changing rapidly, with the effect of climate change and disasters compounded by COVID-19 pandemic and conflicts in various parts of the world. There are now new requirements of disaster preparedness for effective response and to “Build Back Better” in recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction.

It is now important to show examples of success all over the world that this is doable and with the mobilisation and leadership of the most marginalised, with greater resources at local level for DRR and climate resilient sustainable livelihoods and with climate friendly policies and its strict implementation, the earth will be a more hospitable and peaceful place.

Views expressed are the author’s own and don’t necessarily reflect those of Down To Earth

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