Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction and the Sendai Framework

Two of the most pressing questions of today are, how do you plan for natural disasters and how do you build back better after one occurs? The vast majority of disasters are linked to high-impact weather events caused by climate change.  The core areas of disaster risk reduction (DRR) work includes climate change adaptation, building disaster resilient cities, schools, and hospitals, and strengthening investment for DRR internationally. 

The Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction developed the major document outlining the prevention of loss during natural disasters like earthquakes, floods, or hurricanes.  The purpose of this conference was to review the implementation of the Hyogo Frameworkfor Action and to adopt a successor framework for disaster risk reduction.  This successor was the Sendai Framework, a 15-year voluntary, non-binding agreement that maps out a broad, humanistic approach to disaster risk reduction. The Sendai Framework, adopted in 2015 in Sendai, Japan, has four main priorities when discussing disaster prevention and safety. These are:

  1. Understanding disaster risk
  2. Strengthening disaster risk governance to manage disaster risk
  3. Investing in disaster risk reduction for resilience
  4. Enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response, and to “Build Back Better” in recovery, rehabilitation, and reconstruction.

By adopting these priorities, the international community has the potential to create a safer and more inclusive world for all in the face of disasters. The conference in which the Sendai Framework was established was one of the most accessible UN conferences of all time due to a substantial grant from the Nippon Foundationthat pushed for people with disabilities to participate.  This grant provided the resources that made the high levels of accessibility possible such as inclusive reading technology.

Following the Sendai Framework, the Dhaka Declaration onDisability and Disaster Risk Reductiondiscusses the intersection between poverty and disabilities. It is important to draw attention to the linkages between the Dhaka Declaration, the Sustainable Development Goals, and other frameworks. An important takeaway from the Dhaka Conference was that the 18 represented countries acknowledged that individuals and communities are impacted differently by disasters due to gender, disability, age, culture, socio-economic factors, geographical locations, levels of governance, a lack of awareness and lack of communication within society.

The Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction 2017 was held in Cancun, Mexico.  As we saw first-hand during our discussion, this meeting transformed the ways persons with disabilities can participate in global debates.  First, the GP2017 provided International Sign Language translators to ensure all persons could participate in the dialogue. Second, and most amazingly, robots were used to connect individuals from four remote hubs around the world to the conference. These robots allowed the individual to virtually participate and be involved in every aspect of the conference. I found it remarkable that the keynote speech was given by an individual using a robot.

Going forward, this topic pertains to my project because when communities are faced with disasters, access to basic human rights such as food and water are greatly diminished.  Take the recent tsunami in Indonesia for example. Persons with disabilities face exacerbated difficulties because, in addition to acquiring the needed goods, they are faced with further challenges having to do with mobility, communication, and transportation that may have been further impacted by the disaster.  The frameworks discussed above are working to ensure communities impacted by disasters have the resources they need to mitigate the risks and to build a more inclusive community after a disaster.