UNISDR Science and Technology Conference on the Implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030

The Sendai Framework, a landmark international framework adopted in 2015, calls for a shift from managing disasters to managing risks. This requires a more holistic approach to risks and a stronger focus on risk-creation processes, and it presents opportunities to approach disaster risk reduction (DRR) as an integral part of sustainable development.

12552996_10206144906243762_6994267657060727511_nThe UNISDR Science and Technology Conference in January 2016 on the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR) is a major event to move to the implementation phase of the framework. The event promotes a global conversation among scientific institutions and policymakers on priorities for science and technology, and on coordination for effective implementation. More than 1,000 participants from the science and technology communities, policymakers, practitioners, and researchers from all geographical regions at local, national, regional, and international levels get together to endorse the road map and share knowledge for the SFDRR implementation.AAEAAQAAAAAAAARzAAAAJGEwZTRjMjg4LTdiMTItNDdlZS04ZDMwLWU2Mzk1ZGY2M2E4ZQ

The SFDRR was endorsed last March 2015. There has been much discussion on what the SFDRR encompasses, and it is obviously difficult to cover all aspects of DRR in short documents. There has been discussion what would be the next after the SFDRR. The journey started with the Yokohama Declaration (1994) and moved onto the Hyogo Framework (2005). Perhaps for the next 15 years it will be the SFDRR.

In my opinion it is a never-ending process that is always evolving. For example, following a tsunami in Hawaii in 1868, experts observed that a key problem was the lack of communication from the Civil Defense to end users. As someone working on natural hazard early warning systems in this century, that same problem still exists in most countries, and we still keep playing our blame games like musical chairs.

Prof Glanz mentioned in his “Spirit of Sendai”:

“The caveat ‘as appropriate’ is, to me, the proverbial ‘fly in the soup’ that allows actors responsible in theory at least for effective DRR to see the SFDRR as a permit to continue along the ‘business as usual’ pathway until the next climate, water, weather, or geohazard reminds them that maybe developing a ‘culture of prevention’ was a more appropriate pathway to have chosen.”

Science has gone though a highly advanced stage but there is still more to go. Unfortunately much of the scientific information is never incorporated into the operational domain for decision-making, and very little has been incorporated down to the community level to respond to disaster risks. There is and will be uncertainty in scientific knowledge. Similarly uncertainty exists in all aspects of human decision-making. People take chances in every decision-making process. Thus there is no harm to applying uncertain scientific knowledge for decision-making. If the probability is 60%, the uncertainty is 40%. But by using 60% certainty, many disaster impacts could be avoided. In the law there is a concept of “foreseeability”. It refers to actions for which the outcomes could and therefore should have been foreseen. Foreseeability is a qualitative expression of probability.

The conference organized a high-level panel to introduce the UNISDR Science and Technology road map for the implementation of the Sendai Framework. Discussions on the scientific and technical partnership to support the implementation of the Sendai Framework included:

  • understanding disaster risk, risk assessment and early warning;
  • leveraging science through capacity development and research; and
  • use of science, technology and innovation tools, methods, and standards to support the implementation and reporting of the Sendai Framework to develop recommendations and an action plan to implement the S&T roadmap.

The road map presents the expected outcomes under each of the four priority actions outlined in the Sendai Framework, and proposes key actions that the UNISDR Science and Technology Partnership will undertake to fulfill the expected outcomes and to achieve the goal of Sendai Framework. It also highlights ways for monitoring progress and reviewing needs.

The SFDRR recognises the importance of science and technology for disaster risk reduction. There is a strong call for science in the Sendai framework. It particularly calls for access to reliable data, capacity building to interpret and use this data, and promoting better understanding of the components of risks – vulnerability, exposure and hazards. It also asks for the development of regular risk assessments, capacities to analyse risk and use data and information in policy planning, and for the promotion of a strong interface between science, policy and practitioners for evidence-based decision-making.

We believe under the SFDRR we will able to see the application of broad-range generation and integration of hazard risk information of all timescales between early warning information providers and users. Multi-hazard early warning systems, through sustained multi-stakeholder dialogue with the participation of mass-based organizations, should ensure that early warning information products, including their uncertainties and limitations, are understood by and communicated to users. We will encourage climate and hydrological forecast applications for mitigating risks in various climate-sensitive sectors, including but not limited to, agriculture, irrigation, and health. Users should be able to evaluate the potential impacts and develop a plan of action in response to the climate and hydrological outlooks. Inter-agency coordination should promote sharing information, integrated policies, sectoral plans, and programs for dealing with potential impacts of hydro-meteorological and geological hazards. There is a process of understanding risks posed and the opportunities brought about by past, current, and future climate.

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