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PREPARATORY COMMITTEE FOR THIRD UN WORLD CONFERENCE ON DISASTER RISK REDUCTION CONCLUDES FIRST SESSION IN GENEVA

15 July 2014

The First Session of the Preparatory Committee of the Third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction concluded its work this afternoon after discussing the post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction during two days of meetings.

In concluding remarks, Margareta Wahlstrom, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, said she felt encouraged by the Preparatory Committee’s substantive discussions; clear guidance, which had covered inputs to what the post-2015 framework should look like; and the recognition that in some areas diverging views had been expressed.  The work of the coming months would be to find common ground on these matters.  Member States and major groups had shared their vision for the post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction and, on this basis, States had all the key elements to design the post-2015 framework. 

Paivi Kairamo,  Permanent Representative of Finland to the United Nations Office at Geneva and Co-Chair of the First Preparatory Committee for the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, said in concluding remarks that the preparatory work was on track and everyone had shown immense focus.  A provisional agenda for the World Conference, which would adopt as its outcome a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction, had been agreed.  Ms. Kairamo was confident that the Preparatory Committee was being faithful to what people truly wanted on the ground and would deliver a post-2015 framework that would meet the world’s expectations. 

Thani Thongphakdi, Permanent Representative of Thailand to the United Nations Office at Geneva and Co-Chair of the First Preparatory Committee for the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, said in concluding remarks that part of the task of the Co-Chairs was to listen to the views expressed by States and to bring those together with what other stakeholders pointed out as missing or required highlighting.  A loud and clear reaffirmation of the importance of regional and sub-regional platforms had been heard.  It must not be forgotten that the post-2015 development framework needed to be relevant to everyday concerns.  It was thus important to ensure coherence with other international frameworks and agendas.

The Preparatory Committee this afternoon heard summaries of the three dialogues with major groups, held in parallel to the plenary.  The first dialogue discussed good practices, innovations and lessons learned in implementing the Hyogo Framework that could be worth replicating and scaled up in the context of a post-2015 framework.  The second reflected on the “Proposed Elements for Consideration in the Post-2015 Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction” and building coherence and mutual reinforcement between disaster risk reduction, sustainable development goals and climate change agreements.  The third dialogue identified commitments for the Third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in 2015 in Sendai and defining relevant mechanisms for implementation.

The Preparatory Committee also heard summaries of the work of the three technical workshop: on indicators, monitoring and review process for the post-2015 framework; on investing in disaster risk reduction; and on mutual reinforcement of disaster risk reduction, sustainable development goals, and climate change. 

The Preparatory Committee adopted its draft report. 

At the beginning of the afternoon, the Preparatory Committee concluded its discussion on the post-2015 disaster risk reduction framework. 

During the discussion, speakers stressed the need to build on rather than replace the Hyogo Framework for Action.  While it was necessary to take note of achievements, there were a number of gaps that had to be filled and challenges to be faced.  The post-2015 framework would be an opportunity for this.  Practical applications, tools and experiences had to be shared and used in capacity-building efforts.  Delegations also highlighted the particular vulnerabilities of particular regions.

Participating in the discussion this afternoon were Australia, Sudan, Bolivia, Peru, Angola, Tuvalu, and the African Union.  Also speaking were Group on Earth Observations, the Group on Workers, Children and Youth Group.

The First Session of the Preparatory Committee was held on 14 and 15 July.  Summaries of the opening statements by the Committee’s Co-Chairs, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, and the Acting Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, as well as the first part of the discussion, are available here.

The Second Session of the Preparatory Committee will take place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva on 17 and18 November 2014.  Additional information concerning the Committee and the Third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, which will be held in Sendai, Japan, from 14 to 18 March 2015, is available here.

Considerations on the Post-2015 Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction

Australia said that this was a significant opportunity for the international community to build on past efforts towards the new framework for disaster risk reduction.  Australia’s experience had been one of increasing disaster risk exposure.  It agreed on the need to build on rather than replace the Hyogo Framework for Action. 

Sudan said it was necessary to take note of achievements made but there were a number of gaps that had to be filled and challenges to be faced.  The post-2015 framework would be an opportunity for this.  Sudan suffered from drought, food insecurity and lack of water and this was why it found it necessary to set up mechanisms for implementation and financing. 

Bolivia said that it had been able to make important progress in terms of laws and implementation of the prevention and reduction of risk and vulnerability.  Bolivia’s policies had economic resources allocated to them to reduce risk on the local level, and were drawn up with the participation of indigenous communities.  The framework should strengthen international cooperation.

Peru said that risk management was part of sustainable development.   Interaction between disaster risk management, climate change and sustainable development should be promoted.  A new approach to vulnerability was needed, as well as incorporation of risk management in land organization and use.

Angola was situated in an area of Africa where there were many natural disasters as well as armed conflicts, which were detrimental to the development of countries.  Climate change and the disasters occurring were of great concern to Angola.  In the field of disaster management, it had a series of plans.  Regional scientific centres for risk assessment had to be set up in order to help support States. 

Tuvalu said it was often associated with the rising impact of climate change and related natural disasters.  Tuvalu feared that oceans would rise, cyclones grow more intense, and its people would be forced to move to other countries and Tuvalu, along with its way of life would disappear.  Sustainable development was fundamentally flawed if it did not address climate change and the reduction of greenhouse emissions.

African Union said that, since 2000, Africa had recorded almost two disasters of significant proportions every week.  The African Union would deliberate on its contribution for a post-2015 framework during its summit in January 2015, on the basis of three pillars: regional risk factors and institutional frameworks; integration of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation; and investments in disaster risk reduction. 

Group on Earth Observations said that it was creating a Global Earth Observation System that would link Earth observation resources world-wide across multiple societal benefit areas, such as agriculture, biodiversity, disasters, and make them available for informed decision making.  Disaster risk reduction and mitigation frameworks should include earth observation as well as ensuring timely access to such resources. 

The Group on Workers stressed the risks faced by workers in emergency and disaster responses: it was important to pay attention to the needs of workers and the importance of investing in prevention.  Workers and Unions should be informed about targets and indicators which monitored the level of preparedness, which had a strong impact on the threats and risk to which workers in disaster responses were exposed. 

Children and Youth Group was concerned by the lack of clear references to children and youth in the context of the post-2015 framework.  On the basis of its regional consultation, the Group proposed the inclusion of targets and indicators regarding areas such as education, health care, and environmental protection.  All targets under the Hyogo Framework should be achieved for all children and youth of different age groups, ethnicity and abilities.

Indigenous People’s Major Group said that indigenous peoples represented over 370 million persons and were the guardians of Mother Earth, but were vulnerable like no other group to the changing climate conditions and prone to the impacts of disasters.  The Group underlined the importance of inclusivity and consultations with indigenous persons in all stages of the development and formulation of targets, indicators and national policies for disaster risk reduction.

Future Consultations

THANI THONGPHAKDI, Permanent Representative of Thailand to the United Nations Office at Geneva and Co-Chair of the First Session of the Preparatory Committee for the Third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, said that in terms of the timeline for consulting on the post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction, it was proposed that by 8 August, an English language version of the Co-Chairs’ draft would be posted on the World Conference website.  A zero paper would also be submitted for translation in all United Nations languages.  It would form the basis for consideration at the Second Preparatory Committee that would take place on 17 and 18 November 2014.  The Co-Chairs would convene informal consultations in Geneva and circulate a note verbale by the end of July, formally communicating tentative dates and venues.  On the political declaration, Japan had informed that it would provide a succinct elements paper in the middle of October.

Mexico requested that the zero paper be turned into a working document for the preparatory meeting and included in the report.

Panama expressed appreciation for efforts made this afternoon.  It would like to see the document turned into a working document.

THANI THONGPHAKDI, Permanent Representative of Thailand to the United Nations Office at Geneva and Co-Chair of the First Session of the Preparatory Committee for the Third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, said that informal consultations would proceed as outlined.  The Preparatory Committee would now hear the summaries of the Co-Chair’s dialogues with major groups and of the technical workshops. 

Summaries of the Co-Chairs Dialogues with Major Groups

PAIVI KAIRAMO, Permanent Representative of Finland to the United Nations Office at Geneva and Co-Chair of the First Preparatory Committee for the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, provided a summary of the first dialogue between Co-Chairs and major groups, which concerned progress, good practices, innovations and lessons learned in implementing the Hyogo Framework for Action that had worked and could be worth replicating and scaling up in the context of a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction.  Among the examples discussed, speakers addressed collaborative intiativies, such as consortia for science and technology-related initiatives, indigenous women leaders empowerment, safe schools initiatives, and the development of resilience metrics through engagement with the private sector.  A number of concerns in the context of the post-2015 framework had also been identified, in particular, those concerning the need to institutionalise inclusion and participation by women, persons with disabilities and indigenous persons. 

THANI THONGPHAKDI, Permanent Representative of Thailand to the United Nations Office at Geneva and Co-Chair of the First Preparatory Committee for the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, provided an update on the second dialogue which had addressed reflections on the “Proposed Elements for Consideration in the Post-2015 Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction” and building coherence and mutual reinforcement between disaster risk reduction, sustainable development goals and climate change agreements.  Speakers had focused on the need for disaggregated data to allow for communities to self-report or to be part of the monitoring system.  Participants also stressed the importance of enhancing transparency in the development of the post-2015 framework and its implementation, as well as enhancing accountability for implementation and reporting.  The need to adapt the new framework to new climatic and environmental challenges was also discussed.  The compilation report with the key outcomes of regional platforms and consultations was considered to be an important contribution to the process.  The private sector contribution to disaster risk reduction should be seen as a long-term investment, rather than as a cost. 

PAIVI KAIRAMO, Permanent Representative of Finland to the United Nations Office at Geneva and Co-Chair of the First Preparatory Committee for the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, on the third Co-Chair’s dialogue, said that efforts should be undertaken to search for opportunities to have joint commitments in support of the new framework.  There had been recognition that voluntary commitments should be based on the substance of the new framework.  The importance of a continued dialogue with stakeholders was also emphasized.  From the Co-Chairs’ perspectives, this working method had provided an opportunity for interaction with a wider group of actors on disaster risk reduction-related issues and in that respect really provided a lot of substance for future work.  All those that had actively participated were thanked.

Summaries of the Work of the Technical Workshops

Ecuador  providing an update on the first technical workshop on indicators, monitoring and the review process for the post-2015 framework, said that the current Hyogo Framework for Action was input and not output-focused, and did not show impact.  The new monitoring system had to link inputs to outputs and help to indentify policy gaps to support decision-making and this was widely supported by Governments and stakeholders that had participated in the technical workshop.  The monitoring system had to become more objective.  There was a clear call for the post-2105 framework for the disaster risk reduction indicators to be linked very clearly to sustainable development goals and climate change, by aligning goals and targets.  It would be important to have working groups that promoted the cross-cutting nature of work being done.  Participants stressed that indicators and targets had to relate to national administrative and constitutional set-ups.  Many of the disaster risk reduction policies undertaken were based on cultural aspects and were all very diverse.  There had also been emphasis on monitoring action at the local level. 

Japan, speaking on the second technical workshop on investing in disaster risk reduction, said that there had been a very rich, varied and in-depth discussion.  On risk information, it was pointed out that new risk models and data were available and these needed to be made compatible and useable for Governments and businesses.  Mexico had demonstrated that having the right risk information at hand was critical to priorities, localities and strategies.  It was also pointed out that spreading risk over asset holdings or a broad tax base was not going to be a solution in the context of ever rising disaster risks.  Instead, risk prevention and effectively addressing the existing stock of risks had to become a priority.  Risk pooling through regional catastrophe polls was a possible solution to protect government finance against large shocks.  Several businesses had pleaded for more proactive outreach by Governments to use the expertise of the private sector in managing multiple risks.  Collaboration between public and private entities in providing the enabling environment for risk-sensitive public and private investment through the development of regulation was actively encouraged.

The Co-Chairs informed the Preparatory Committee that in response to concerns about the draft rules of procedure for the World Conference, a written clarification would be distributed.

Egypt, speaking on the third technical workshop on mutual reinforcement of disaster risk reduction, sustainable development goals and climate change agreements, said that the workshop had featured a dynamic discussion focused on coherence and mutual reinforcement among the post-2015 international framework on sustainable development, disaster risk reduction, and climate change.  The discussion recognised that the political consensus and the policy foundation for coherence and mutual reinforcement already existed and would be bolstered by the post-2015 framework.  The need for transparency for the parallel processes was well emphasised, and a variety of suggestions were made for achieving mutual reinforcement, such as aligning time frames and synchronising periodicity of reporting, sharing targets and indicators, including disaster risk management as part of the sustainable developing world.  It was recognised that there was no one size fits all solution, but the benefits in terms of efficiency and accomplishment were universal.  Increased appreciation of disaster risk management and climate change by key leaders would contribute to improving resilience.

Adoption of the Report

The Rapporteur of the First Session of the Preparatory Committee, introducing the draft report of the first session  of the Preparatory Committee, said the report covered the opening of the session; the election of Co-Chairpersons and other officers; the adoption of the agenda and organization of work; the organization of the World Conference; the adoption of rules of procedure of the Preparatory Committee; as well as considerations on the post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction.  It would also include a section on the conclusion of the session.  The draft report was believed to be a balanced text.

THANI THONGPHAKDI, Permanent Representative of Thailand to the United Nations Office at Geneva and Co-Chair of the First Preparatory Committee for the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, said the Preparatory Committee had decided to adopt the draft report of its first session and authorized the Rapporteur to finalise the report in light of the proceedings of the closing of the session.

Concluding Remarks

MARGARETA WAHLSTROM, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, speaking in concluding remarks, felt encouraged by the Preparatory Committee’s substantive discussions; clear guidance, which had covered inputs to what the post-2015 framework should look like; and the recognition that in some areas diverging views had been expressed.  The work of the coming months would be to find common ground on these matters.  Member States and major groups had shared their vision for the post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction and Ms. Wahlstrom reiterated that, on this basis, States had all the key elements to design the post-2015 framework.  Ms. Wahlstrom thanked delegations for their contributions, which had been duly recorded and would not only serve the preparatory process, but also would contribute to guide the work of United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction towards and beyond 2015.  Ms. Wahlstrom also thanked Japan, the host country of the World Conference, Switzerland for hosting the Preparatory Conference, and the Acting Director-General of the United Nations-Office in Geneva for having opened the doors of the Palais des Nations to them.
 
PAIVI KAIRAMO, Permanent Representative of Finland to the United Nations Office at Geneva and Co-Chair of the First Preparatory Committee for the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, was impressed and encouraged by participants’ commitment to the topic of disaster risk reduction.  The preparatory work was on track and everyone had shown immense focus.  A provisional agenda for the World Conference, which would adopt as its outcome a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction, had been agreed.  In the Committee’s consideration of the post-2015 framework, many references to local, national and regional outcomes had been voiced.  Ms. Kairamo was confident that the Preparatory Committee was being faithful to what people truly wanted on the ground and would deliver a post-2015 framework that would meet the world’s expectations.  Ms. Kairamo reiterated calls for more accountability for managing risk and the need to find a way to voice this clearly in the post-2015 framework.  Local communities wanted greater empowerment on issues concerning their own safety and well-being.  Another common theme concerned the need to account for regional and national differences, and ways to ensure cooperation between countries needed to be considered. 

THANI THONGPHAKDI, Permanent Representative of Thailand to the United Nations Office at Geneva and Co-Chair of the First Preparatory Committee for the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, said that part of the task of the Co-Chairs was to listen to the views expressed by States and to bring those together with what other stakeholders pointed out as missing or required highlighting.  This was among the reasons why the Co-Chairs had held three dialogues with major groups.  As Member States worked to develop a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction, there was a need to think of how best to formulate views so that all actors could use the same framework to align their actions; a need to think of ways to bring about a system of monitoring and accountability through practical formulas that were easy to understand and resulted in outcomes against which it was easy to track progress; and a need to recognise the actors that wanted to play an increasing role in reducing disaster risk, such as youth, women, the aging population and persons with disabilities.  A loud and clear reaffirmation of the importance of regional and sub-regional platforms had been heard.  It must not be forgotten that the post-2015 development framework needed to be relevant to everyday concerns.  It was thus important to ensure coherence with other international frameworks and agendas.

For use of the information media; not an official record

M14/009E