One of the major approaches of GP2017 was the creation of regional strategies for implementing the Sendai Framework. The Sendai Framework itself recognizes the primacy of the state to control their own disaster risk reduction plans, but encourages partnerships in regional and subregional bodies. I cannot help but wonder what something like this would look like in Europe. Upon a bit of research, it appears that the European Commission is doing the most organization and advocacy for disaster risk reduction strategies in tandem with UNISDR that has organized a European Forum on Disaster RIsk Reduction to be held again in November of this year in Rome, Italy. Moreover, the Commission published an Action Plan in 2016 in accordance with the Sendai Framework, detailing how it would be achieved in Europe.
I would argue that there are a number of challenges with leaving DRR up to the European Commission. To start, it is the major legislative body of the European Union. In a time where many states are becoming more nationalistic and domestically-oriented, the power and influence of the European Union as a whole is being challenged. This challenge has manifested in more state-centered pride, undermining the unifying tenets of the EU. Many European states are hesitant to relinquish sovereignty over any aspect, let alone something as important as DRR. I think to my own experiences in Poland where a growing support for the far-right of the Law and Justice party has manifested in a strong anti-EU sentiment. This manifests specifically in the youth, the future generations of policy shapers, who view the EU with much resentment and blame the body for many problems with high unemployment rates and lower salaries compared to other EU member states. They also tend to associate the EU with Poland’s history of political and social oppression, generating a general mistrust of the organization.
This is not to say that European countries aren’t taking measures to promote inclusive DRR, both independently and in accordance with the European Commission and UNISDR. In fact, many are. Many nations have their own networks and organizations established in thinking about these issues. In Poland, we saw the creation of a special committee that lead way to the country’s official DRR platform in 2009. However, the degree to which these efforts by individual states are coordinated in a regional body is, I argue, weak. The EU is working to provide relief for disaster victims, forming partnerships with other nations outside the region, etc. but detailed, specific measures taken by EU countries are really lacking on the Commission website.
I argue that in order for Europe to follow the implementation of the Sendai Framework in a regional partnership, a less contentious and politically-charged organization is going to have to rise to the challenge. While I think initiatives from the Commission are helpful, its political and authoritative nature limit its reach given the current political climate in Europe. I would argue that a multistakeholder approach is necessary for achieving the Sendai Framework on a regional level, one that incorporates the expertise of national advocacy groups, national DRR committees and organizations, and subregional coalitions of actors in addition to the legislative authority of the European Commission. While the Commission’s Action Plan published in 2016 advocates for a similar, albeit ambiguous, approach like mine, how the Commission plans to and has been engaging stakeholders since 2016 is still somewhat shrouded in mystery. I feel that how the Commission proceeds in the coming years, specifically in the lead-up to GP2019, is truly going to be something to watch.