As climate change continues to unfold, more and more disasters are occurring. Between 1980 and 2010, the number of natural disasters tripled globally. In order to slow down these natural disasters, we must slow down climate change. However, in the meantime, it is important to focus on both disaster risk reduction, to reduce the risks that people face during natural disasters, and disaster risk management, to deal with what happens when these disasters do occur.
The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, or UNISDR, holds many conferences regarding actions to be taken regarding disaster risk reduction. The World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction takes place every 10 years in order to develop plans and practices to strengthen nations’ capacities to resist and adapt to natural disasters. The most recent of these conferences was the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, which took place in Sendai, Japan, in 2015. Out of this conference came the Sendai Framework, which includes seven global targets and four priorities for action, including investing in disaster risk reduction for resilience and enhancing disaster preparedness to improve recovery efforts. The Sendai Framework emphasizes the importance of state actors, while also prioritizing collaboration with other stakeholders.
The Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction takes place more frequently than the World Conferences, to continue the important work. The GP meets every two years, and the most recent Platform took place in Cancun in 2017.
However, the United Nations is not the only international body working to reduce disaster risk. When natural disasters occur, they affect everyone differently. Persons with disabilities can be particularly vulnerable to disasters if there is not an inclusive evacuation plan. Non-state actors such as the DIDRRN and the International Disability Alliance are working towards more inclusive language and more inclusive policy. At the Dhaka Conference on Disability and Disaster Risk Management, disaster risk was assessed through the lens of disability inclusion. The Dhaka Conference resulted in the Dhaka Declaration, which includes tangible, specific indicators for inclusion. In the 2017 Global Platform, the Dhaka Declaration was incorporated into the Sendai Framework for even more inclusive disaster risk management on a global level.
Persons with disabilities need to be included not just in disaster risk reduction and management, but also in these conferences. The Niplon Foundation of Japan helped both the Sendai Conference and the GP 2017 to be as inclusive as possible, along with the support of the IDPP. The Global Platform even featured robots controlled by people in hubs who were not able to attend the conference. Participation by persons with disability is integral to ensure that disaster risk policy is inclusive and benefits everyone.