IFRC


Ensuring that disaster risk reduction and building resilience are fully integrated into the post-2015 sustainable development agenda

Published: 8 November 2012

Agenda item 20 (Sustainable Development)
Second Committee of the United Nations General Assembly
New York, 8 November 2012

Mr. Chair,

As the 2nd Committee meets in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies takes this opportunity to express our solidarity with the countries affected, including Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and the United States, and we have launched several appeals to support the critical work of our National Societies in those countries.

Mr. Chair,

The IFRC stresses the importance of building resilience to disasters in the post-2015 sustainable development agenda. We highlight the fact that all trends show a marked increase in both the incidence and impact of disasters, as a result, among other things, of climate change, environmental degradation, urbanization, and the increasing vulnerability of the world’s poorest.

Mr. Chair,

As it stands today, disasters constitute a tremendous threat to sustainable development, especially to the most vulnerable countries and people. Without a renewed sense of urgency on this issue, the IFRC fears that the impact of disasters will significantly limit progress towards sustainable development. In the approach to 2015, the most effective way for states to build resilience to disasters is to accelerate the implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) and the financing commitments made at the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (GPDRR) in 2009 in Geneva. Simultaneously, we must look to the future and ensure that disaster risk reduction (DRR) and building resilience are fully integrated into the post-2015 sustainable development agenda.

Mr. Chair,

The IFRC reminds the committee that disasters have a disproportionate impact on the poorest countries, as well as the poorest within countries. Since 1980, disasters in low-income countries have accounted for just 9% of disasters worldwide, and yet nearly 50% percent of all disaster-related fatalities occur in low-income countries. Further, these countries are particularly vulnerable to small and medium scale disasters, which rarely attract international attention or assistance. A growing body of evidence suggests that the cumulative impact of small and medium scale disasters, which are often seasonal or recurrent, is equal or greater to the impact of large-scale disasters that make the news. In all countries, the impacts of disaster, disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable, have the potential to exacerbate existing inequalities and social and economic marginalization.

Mr. Chair,

Disasters often have catastrophic economic effects, wiping out years of development gains in low-income countries and Small Island Developing States (SIDS).  Damages from the 2010 Haiti earthquake equaled 120% of GDP, and Granada lost 200% of its GDP in a 2004 hurricane.
 
Disaster losses in 2011 were the highest on record, due to the earthquake and Tsunami in Japan and flooding in Thailand, which cost those countries 4% and 5% of their GDP respectively. In the last week, we have seen the major economic impact of disasters here in US: latest estimates for economic losses caused by Superstorm Sandy in the city of New York stand at 50 billion USD. Given the importance of these countries in the global economy, disasters have a clear negative impact on international trade and development. In these times of economic crises and fragility, no country can afford to not build disaster resilience.

Mr. Chair,

The links between disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation, building resilience and sustainable development have been recognized in successive resolutions passed by the GA on the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), the Cancun Agreements of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report on Extremes and Disasters (IPCC SREX), which was approved by all governments. The Future We Want takes this one step farther, and for the first time, states explicitly called for addressing disaster risk reduction and building resilience within the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication. To quote the SG’s Report on Implementation of ISDR, “we are on the cusp of a major breakthrough in mainstreaming DRR…across the sustainable development agenda”.

Mr. Chair,

For this rhetoric to be translated into meaningful outcomes for the most vulnerable, it is essential that two things happen: 1) the amount, flexibility, predictability, and duration of funding for disaster risk reduction, preparedness and building resilience must be substantially increased and 2) national and international frameworks must address and be informed by needs at community level.

The current level of funding for DRR is unacceptably low and does not reflect its recognized importance to sustainable development. Since 1980, DRR has made up only 0.07% of total ODA and is usually drawn from the humanitarian budget, which itself constitutes only 8-10% of ODA. Further, the funding that does exist is fragmented, unpredictable, and short-term, preventing the long-term investments necessary to build disaster resilience. To address these issues, we call on donor countries to honor their commitment to allocate 1% of ODA to DRR, which they made at 2nd  GPDRR held in Geneva in 2009.

Mr. Chair,

Disaster impacts are felt most at the community level and thus so too should the investments made in building disaster resilience. Local government and organizations working at the community level must be given adequate resources to address disaster risks. Further, local governments and organizations working at this level must be involved in the design and implementation of national and international frameworks for DRR. This will ensure that such frameworks and plans are appropriately conceived to respond to the needs of the most vulnerable.

Mr. Chair,

As the processes to define post-2015 frameworks for DRR and sustainable development proceed, we stress the importance of coherence and coordination between the two processes. In both processes, we further stress the importance of wide consultation that ensures the voices of people affected by disaster are heard. We urge member states to come to an agreement on the constitution of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as further delays will reduce the time and incentive for the wide consultation necessary for consensus on this critical agenda.

With 150 years of experience in disaster response and risk reduction, Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies are well placed to bring our experience of working with communities into the processes that will define the post-2015 agenda, and we will encourage our National Societies to engage wherever possible.

I thank you Mr. Chair.

 

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The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world's largest humanitarian organization, with 190 member National Societies. As part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, our work is guided by seven fundamental principles; humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality. About this site & copyright