The United Nations General Assembly has designated 13 October as the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction to promote a global culture of disaster risk reduction.
It is an opportunity to acknowledge the progress being made toward reducing disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods and health in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 adopted at the Third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Japan in March 2015.
In 2016, the United Nations Secretary-General launched “The Sendai Seven Campaign” to promote each of the seven targets over seven years. The 2020 target is Target E: “Substantially increase the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020” which lays the foundation for the implementation of the Sendai Framework and is closely linked with Priority for Action 2: “Strengthening disaster risk governance to manage disaster risk.
“Disaster risk governance” was announced as the theme of International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction for 2020. A year when people have died and fallen ill due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Good disaster risk governance can be measured in lives saved, reduced numbers of disaster-affected people and reduced economic losses. COVID-19 and the climate emergency are telling us that we need clear vision, plans and competent, empowered institutions acting on scientific evidence for public good.
It requires having national and local strategies for disaster risk reduction in place by the end of the year as agreed by United Nations member States when they adopted the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. Strategies need to be seen to address not just single hazards like floods and storms but those that respond to systemic risk generated by zoonotic diseases, climate shocks and environmental breakdown.
In a statement, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, Mami Mizutori, said: “We have learned from the worst single disaster of the 21st century so far, that if we do not strengthen disaster risk governance to take on the challenge of existential threats, we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the last eight months which have cost so many lives and damaged the health and economic and social well-being of millions. Good national and local strategies for disaster risk reduction must be multi-sectoral linking policies in areas such as land use, building codes, public health, education, agriculture, environmental protection, energy, water resources, poverty reduction and climate change adaptation. It’s time to raise our game if we want to leave a more resilient planet to future generations.”