This article has been published on PreventionWeb on 23 February 2015
In 2009, four years into the life of the global blueprint for disaster risk management, the Hyogo Framework for Action, the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction launched the first Global Assessment Report for Disaster Risk Reduction, GAR09.
It was the beginning of a remarkable series of publications which will see the 4th volume – GAR15 – launched next month in time for the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan. One indicator of the popularity of the series is that last year alone, GAR products including standalone applications for tablet and smartphone users, were downloaded almost 180,000 times.
GAR09 Risk and Poverty in a Changing Climate provided evidence that disaster risk is disproportionally concentrated in lower-income countries with weak governance. Within countries, it showed how underlying drivers, such as badly planned and managed urban development; vulnerable rural livelihoods, environmental degradation, poverty and inequality further generate and accumulate disaster risk in low-income communities and households.
It’s a two-way street.
Unless poverty and underlying inequality is addressed, disaster risk will continue to rise. But at the same time, disaster losses aggravate the depth and breadth of poverty and undermine any progress towards poverty reduction and sustainable development. GAR09 made the case for action to address the underlying risk drivers through aligning efforts being pursued under the disaster risk reduction, climate change and poverty reduction agendas.
The findings of GAR09 flowed into GAR11 Revealing Risk, Redefining Development, where the focus shifted to the identification of effective public policies to address the disaster risk-poverty nexus. It analysed the political and economic imperatives and constraints for increased public investment in disaster risk reduction.
Using innovative hybrid probabilistic risk models GAR11 produced risk profiles for a number of countries in order to demonstrate how a risk-layered approach to disaster risk management could maximise the benefits while reducing the costs.
GAR11 also built on the recommendations of GAR09, highlighting opportunities to integrate disaster risk management into existing development instruments and mechanisms in the urban, environmental, social and economic sectors.
How disaster risk is addressed in the other 70–85 per cent of capital investment is therefore critical. GAR13 showed how businesses, by investing in disaster risk management, could reduce the costs and interruptions represented by disaster losses and impacts; enhance performance and reputation by minimising uncertainty and unpredictability.
By underlining the interdependence of disaster risk management in the public and private sectors it demonstrated why effectively managing disaster risks is critical to competitiveness, sustainability and resilience; and why a broader approach to value creation that also addresses the underlying drivers of risk is required.
Each GAR produced detailed sets of recommendations. While these were specific to the theme of each report, they can be summarized as two mutually supportive streams, brought into increasing focus as they flowed through the three reports: address the underlying drivers of disaster risk to avoid risk generation and accumulation; and to strengthen the governance of disaster risk to be able to do so.
GAR15 focuses on the second of these streams and presents the case for a broad reinterpretation of disaster risk management. As the HFA draws to a close, GAR15 questions whether the way in which disaster risk management has been approached under the HFA is really fit for purpose in a world now threatened by catastrophic increases in disaster risk. Watch this space!
Note to readers:
- More about GAR