Opinion

Mainstreaming disaster
risk reduction and resilience
into the post-2015 agenda

Indonesia hosted another consultative meeting to determine ways to mainstream disaster risk reduction (DRR) and resilience into the post-2015 development agenda on Feb. 19-20. One of the main outcomes expected from this meeting is to discuss and offer concrete recommendations for the most essential aspects of DRR and resilience building that could be integrated into priority goals, targets and indicators.

DRR and resilience have been an integral part of most of the deliberations on global development within the United Nations. Here in New York, efforts to link DRR and resilience with poverty eradication, climate change and even with conflict have been increasing.

Due to the fact that no country, even the most developed, is immune from the impact of natural disasters, DRR and resilience have become one of the rare pertinent issues of common interest of both the developing and developed world.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a political manifesto of the Millennium Declaration, which was launched in 2000, failed to address the importance of DRR and resilience as the focus of the MDGs had been focused on individual basic needs and well-being.

The Millennium Declaration, however, did make a few references to disasters as stipulated in Paragraph 23 of its Chapter IV: Protecting our common environment and in paragraph 26 of Chapter VI: Protecting the vulnerable.

Even so, the Millennium Declaration, which is seen as a more legitimate universal declaration than the politically crafted MDGs, is unable to address the core of DRR and resilience.

This is because the references made in the Millennium Declaration are too general, i.e. to intensify cooperation to reduce the number and effects of natural and manmade disasters, and too narrow, i.e. to spare no effort to ensure that children and all civilian populations that suffer disproportionately the consequences of natural disasters, genocide, armed conflicts and other humanitarian emergencies are given every assistance and protection so that they can resume normal life as soon as possible.

The formulation of the post-2015 development agenda will be completely different from the process in formulating MDGs as it will be more inclusive in the sense that it involves all stakeholders, including locals. The post-2015 process is also seen as more thorough as it has commenced in late 2012 to allow ample time for consultative deliberation.

With that in mind and the evidence-proved catastrophic impacts of natural disasters that the world has been witnessing in the last decade, the chance for DRR and resilience to be integrated into the development agenda of the post-2015 should be relatively fair.

Within this perspective, many have pinned their hopes on the leadership of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, as the first global champion on DRR as well as cochair of the High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, to ensure the inclusion of DRR into the post-2015 development framework.

However, in the highly political process that involves the entire United Nations member states’ agendas and vested interests, such as the post-2015, relying on the evidence-based urgency of DRR and resilience and the democratic process of the post-2015 will not suffice.

Similarly, it is not enough to place the responsibility on the shoulders of Yudhoyono alone. Stronger campaigning is required and more effective strategy at all levels, the global, regional and national, is critically important to mobilize further political support for the inclusion of DRR and resilience into the post-2015 development agenda.

An informal discussion was organized by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) for the member states of the United Nations in New York last month.

At the discussion, the head of Climate Change at the Overseas Development Institute, Tom Mitchell, proposed to member states to calibrate targets for DRR and resilience in the post-2015 framework while balancing prudence and ambition as part of the strategy to mainstream DRR and resilience into the post-2015 development agenda.

Mitchell further proposed four options of goals for DRR and resilience should the post-2015 process agree to make DRR and/or resilience a standalone goal. Those options are: (a) to reduce risk and build resilience to disasters for all; (b) disaster-resilient nations; (c) disaster-resilient communities; or (d) resilience to shocks and stresses.

Formulating a set of universal goals for the post-2015 development agenda, including a universal goal for DRR and resilience is comprehensible due to the need for drawing support from all nations on the set goal(s).

However, it is important to take into consideration the special needs of individual countries as well as the different starting level each country has due to the different capacity and resources they have with regard to DRR and resilience.

The frequency and intensity of natural disasters that are faced by each country and the impact they entail vis-à-vis the population of the country are also factors of equal importance.

Learning from the shortcoming of the MDGs, what should also be addressed in the coming post-2015 DRR and resilience framework is the “how” aspect. The MDGs left out this very important aspect of achieving its goals as there is no clear and direct framework to guide, support and assist countries, especially the developing and least developed ones, in achieving the MDGs.

In this regard, the coming post-2015 DRR and resilience framework should also put into context the goal of partnership that can contribute to the strengthening of the capacity of DRR and resilience not only at the national level but also at the local/ sub-national level.

The writer is an Indonesian diplomat in New York. The views expressed are her own.

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