Special Issue on the Third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) – Public Forum
Yasuhito Jibiki, Yuichi Ono, Fumihiko Imamura
International Research Institute for Disaster Science, Tohoku University
Aramaki Aza-Aoba 468-1, Aoba-ku, Sendai, Miyagi 980-0845, Japan
Participants in the Third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) in Sendai, Japan, March 14–18, 2015, discussed the successor framework of the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) adopted at the 2005 Second World Conference on Disaster Reduction. These two frameworks were based on the Yokohama Strategy for a Safer World adopted at the First World Conference on Natural Disaster Reduction.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, 187 United Nations member states attended the WCDRR, together with over 6,500 participants and over 100 minister-level officials, including the heads of state of seven countries, prime ministers of five countries (including Japan), vice-presidential officials from six countries, and deputy prime ministers from seven countries. Related events included 150,000 attendees from Japan and abroad.
The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030 (SFDRR) and the Sendai Declaration were adopted by consensus as the outcome documents. One feature of the WCDRR was the large number of citizens taking part. These included governments, international organizations, NGOs, private-sectors groups and universities. They took part in 398 symposiums and seminars, plus over 200 exhibitions and other events.
WCDRR discussions continued even after the conference, activating the Miyagi Roundtable for Disaster Risk Reduction, whose collaborators were from industry, government, academia, regular citizens, and the media. The Sendai Future Forum on Disaster Risk Reduction was held in March 2016, one year later. Information sharing and discussions on disaster risk reduction and reconstruction are now in progress. The most remarkable aspect of the SFDRR as a WCDRR outcome document is the identification of seven global targets on disaster risk reduction. These targets were not included in either the Yokohama Strategy or the HFA. Two reasons why the target setting is significant are as follows:
1. Targets were determined considering the arguments on sustainable development goals. Although disasters have been major obstacles hampering economic growth, millennium development goals did not mention disaster risk reduction goals. Disaster risk reduction projects were thus not prioritized in many developing countries, where disaster risk is high. Disasters have continuously caused huge human and economic loss and required huge amounts of humanitarian assistance – an ongoing negative spiral.
2. Setting global targets are clearly different from the HFA. Voices from Japanese academia have suggested, for the first time, setting numerical targets in the HFA’s preparatory process. It was too early, however, to put it on the negotiation table because it lacked majority support. Western countries did not positively support the idea because it lacked a clear procedure for achieving such targets. It was reasonably pointed out that these targets could not be monitored without a yardstick, but member states reached the consensus to set seven targets at the SFDRR, although specific numbers were not clearly described. SFDRR targets were described as “substantial.” This “substantiality” has been negotiated continuously following the WCDRR.
The member states meaningfully agreed to encourage investment in global disaster risk reduction and to demonstrate performance numerically, which is why target setting is considered the SFDRR’s core component. Note that articles in this special issue are categorized and briefly introduced corresponding to SFDRR priorities for action (Table 1).
Many of these articles deal with “educational” aspects. Priority 1 includes educational issues, and SFDRR target C mentions education. Educational matters are thus clearly one of the most important topics in the disaster risk reduction context. The SFDRR explicitly describes the ‘build back better’ concept, and two articles examine the concept (Iwasawa and Onoda, and Iuchi and Maly).
This special issue also contains studies on the business continuity plan (BCP) relating to investment in disaster risk reduction (Maruya, Haraguchi et al.). An article contributed by Ito et al. states the need to develop disaster databases in order to evaluate achievements of targets.
This issue contains articles on all of the SFDRR’s priorities for action, and issue contents are well-balanced in reviewing the SFDRR and better understanding WCDRR’s significance.
The editors thank the reviewers for their hard work and incisive suggestions.