IFRC announces ‘One Billion Coalition for Resilience’ at World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction

Published: 15 March 2015 17:27 CET

By Patrick Fuller

Today at the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR), Tadateru Konoe, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) presented the IFRC’s voluntary commitment toward the post-2015 disaster risk reduction and Sustainable Development Goals.

In his official statement at the conference, Mr Konoé said, “what we need today is a forward-looking plan to address the critical risks that compromise sustainable development, and enable communities to become stronger and more resilient.”

He urged Governments, donors and partners attending the WCDRR to take action in key areas to ensure that the post-2015 disaster risk reduction framework contributes towards building community resilience. These include improvements to health by scaling up efforts to ensure sustainable access to water and sanitation; establishing local risk reduction platforms and investing in public awareness and education to change minds and behaviours of current and future generations. Mr Konoé also stressed the need for adequate, long-term, flexible, and diverse financing to be available from public and private donors and encouraged governments to adopt strong legal frameworks on disaster risk reduction.

Through its network of 17 million volunteers and 189 National Societies reaching tens of millions of people through disaster preparedness, risk reduction and development programmes, the IFRC is committed to making decisive actions and contributions from local to global.

“Today, we are announcing a rallying call to form and be part of the ‘One Billion Coalition for Resilience’, an initiative to scale up community and civic action on building resilience. Reducing risks and vulnerabilities is a process that must be owned, led and carried out by people themselves to bring about lasting change in their communities.” 

Within the next ten years, the goal of the coalition is to engage at least one person in every household around the world in active steps towards enhancing community resilience.

“Our way forward is a catalyst for collaboration and partnership with a wide range of actors from civil societies, public authorities, the private and education sectors, and all those who wish to contribute to this coalition of will and action”, said Mr. Konoé.

The announcement of the ‘One Billion Coalition was also made at a media briefing where the IFRC’s Secretary General, Elhadj As Sy said, “We must walk the extra mile. There must be action in policy and on the ground. Leadership can come from governments but ownership rests with communities, we must accompany them and empower them and building their trust is critical”.

Mr Sy also took the opportunity to express solidarity with the people of Vanuatu and other Pacific islands that have suffered severe impacts from Cyclone Pam.

“Time is of the essence and the IFRC has mobilized an emergency response. This disaster highlights how Pacific Island Nations are so vulnerable in the face of the unpredictable impacts of climate change.”

On a positive note, Mr Sy stressed how loss of life has been minimal thanks to effective early warning and early action in making sure people were evacuated before the storm struck. He highlighted how investment in building partnerships in disaster risk reduction in the Pacific had saved lives.

“We are committed to building knowledge amongst local communities and helping to increase their resilience by bridging traditional community support systems with science and technology. By working with national meteorological offices, we have been able to communicate and translate hazard warnings so that communities understand and act on them”.