Haigh, R. and Amaratunga, D. (2015), "The role of science in the new Sendai framework for action on disaster risk reduction 2015-2030", International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment, Vol. 6 No. 2. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJDRBE-04-2015-0018Download as .RIS
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The role of science in the new Sendai framework for action on disaster risk reduction 2015-2030
Article Type: Editorial From: International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment, Volume 6, Issue 2
The Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) was attended by over 6,500 participants, including 2,800 government representatives from 187 governments. The public forum had 143,000 visitors over the five days of the conference, making it one of the largest United Nations (UN) gatherings ever held in Japan.
Yet, the work of the conference, which opened on 14th March, began on a sombre note, as a powerful cyclone was devastating parts of Vanuatu and distant neighbouring islands in the South Pacific. It provided a timely reminder to delegates of the urgent need for action. In sharp contrast, many speakers throughout the week noted that the host city, Sendai, had experienced a vibrant recovery following the massive 2011 earthquake and tsunami that triggered a nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The city appeared to offer an ideal location for a conference devoted to updating the landmark disaster resilience agreement reached in 2005 in Hyogo, Japan.
The Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) was itself crafted in the wake of the devastation of the Indian Ocean tsunami, which claimed 227,000 lives. The HFA has since produced some important successes, including a contribution to the reduction in the number of people directly affected by natural disasters in Asia – where most such disasters occur – by almost one billion. Nevertheless, its shortcomings were also well-documented and speakers in Sendai acknowledged that over the past decade, disasters had continued to take a heavy toll, killing more that 700,000 people, injuring 1.4 million and leaving some 23 million homeless as a result. Since 2005, more than 1.5 billion people were in some way touched by disaster and worldwide economic losses topped $1.3 trillion.
The overriding objective of the week was to finalise a post-2015 framework that the UN Member States would adopt by the time the conference concluded. The final plenary and closing of the WCDRR had to be postponed several times, as the lengthy negotiation continued, but just before midnight on 18th March, delegates at the WCDRR adopted a new framework.
The new Sendai Framework for Action on Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 (SFDRR) includes seven global targets and sets out four priority areas for further action. The seven targets are:
1. Substantially reduce global disaster mortality by 2030, aiming to lower average per 100,000 global mortality between 2020-2030 (compared to 2005-2015).
2. Substantially reduce the number of affected people globally by 2030, aiming to lower the average global figure per 100,000 between 2020-2030 compared to 2005-2015.
3. Reduce direct disaster economic loss in relation to global gross domestic product by 2030.
4. Substantially reduce disaster damage to critical infrastructure and disruption of basic services, among them health and educational facilities, including through developing their resilience by 2030.
5. Substantially increase the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020.
6. Substantially enhance international cooperation to developing countries through adequate and sustainable support to complement their national actions for implementation of this framework by 2030.
7. Substantially increase the availability of and access to multi-hazard early warning systems and disaster risk information and assessments to the people by 2030.
More quantitative indicators had been proposed, but only two made it into the final document. The term “substantially”, used in the past five targets, is notable and likely to generate a lot of debate. Monitoring progress will also be a challenge due to data availability issues and transparency in many countries.
The four priorities for action focus on:
1. a better understanding of risk;
2. strengthened disaster risk governance;
3. increased investment in disaster risk reduction (DRR); and
4. more effective disaster preparedness and embedding the “build back better” principle into recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction.
As members of the scientific community and editors of this journal, among those objectives and priorities, we had hoped that there would be strong recognition of science and also identification of a need to strengthen the relevance and use of science for DRR from the global to local scales. In the HFA, science was called for only in general terms: “Use knowledge, innovation and education to build a culture of safety and resilience at all levels”. The pre-zero draft gave some encouragement, a point we had highlighted in a previous issue. But, after days of discussions and a final 30-hour negotiating session, was it a successful week for science in DRR?
The global scientific community will undoubtedly be examining the text of the new SFDRR and identifying opportunities to learn, innovate and contribute, but when compared with the HFA, it is immediately apparent that the SFDRR has an enhanced role for science and knowledge, including explicit mention of coproduction. Science is called to action repeatedly in the text, be it in DRR education and training, post-disaster reviews, research into disaster scenarios or early warning systems. Modelling and early warning are especially emphasised, but there is also recognition of wider social processes, including culture. There is also renewed emphasis on training and, within this, on integrated approaches.
The increased prominence of science within the SFDRR is, at least in part, due to the unswerving efforts of the Science and Technology Major Group, which has been developing an international partnership to mobilise science for action on DRR and resilience building, working with the UNISDR Science and Technical Advisory Group (STAG). The Science and Technology Major Group brought together in Sendai nearly 400 delegates from a wide range of organisations and networks active across all disciplines and sectors.
Within the SFDRR, the role of academia, scientific and research entities and networks is specifically recognised, and they are encouraged to:
[…] focus on the disaster risk factors and scenarios, including emerging disaster risks, in the medium and long term; increase research for regional, national and local application; support action by local communities and authorities; and support the interface between policy and science for decision-making.
It will take time to fully digest the detail of the text, and to determine the most important outcomes and scientific activities that will support implementation. As a starting point, we recently announced a themed issue of the International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment (IJDRBE). We are inviting contributions to this agenda-setting themed issue on how we can best respond to the challenges and opportunities set out in the SFDR 2015-2030. These contributions may include new research directions, assessment approaches and tools, ways to facilitate the uptake of scientific evidence in policy-making and translate knowledge into solutions, monitoring and review, communication and engagement between policy and research and between researchers themselves or capacity building. The call for papers can be found on the journal website. The issue will be published in Volume 7.
We are also pleased to include within this issue, an article by Kevin Blanchard, Amina Aitsi-Selmi and Virginia Murray on The Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction: from science and technology to societal resilience. They provide an overview of the new framework, the first global agreement of the UN post-2015 development agenda, and describe the remit of the STAG. They consider how the STAG and the wider scientific and technical community must work together over the next few months to formulate implementation plans to ensure that science and technology meet the expectations of the Sendai Framework in reducing disaster losses and strengthening resilience.
As usual, the IJDRBE will also continue to fulfil its role in publishing original and refereed material that contributes to the advancement of the research and practice, and it provides contributing authors with an opportunity to disseminate their research and experience to a broad audience.
In the opening scientific paper of Volume 6, Issue 2, Mannakkara and Wilkinson draw upon international experiences to form a set of practical and universal principles for implementation of successful post-disaster social recovery in line with the concept of “building back better”.
In the second paper, Duyne Barenstein presents a longitudinal research study that draws attention to the long-term impacts of post-disaster reconstruction. The paper will be of particular interest to scholars and humanitarian agencies concerned about the social consequences of relocation and reconstruction after natural disasters.
Next, Durham and White present the qualitative findings of a study undertaken in the Kurdish Region of Iraq. The study identifies some of the economic impacts of landmine clearance on household livelihoods.
The fourth paper in the issue, by Matzenberger, Hargreaves, Raha and Dias, considers different notions of the term resilience used in scientific disciplines and goes on to explore how the concept can be applied to energy systems. The paper considers which definitions and underlying concepts of resilience are used in the scientific literature, how resilience can be defined with respect to energy systems and which underlying principles can be identified.
Baytiyeh and Naja use a survey questionnaire to examine the seismic risk exposure of public schools in Lebanon. They offer an assessment of seismic structural vulnerability from a sample of public schools using the Lang survey questionnaire. Their findings emphasise the seismic structural vulnerability of the majority of public schools in Lebanon and call for deeper assessment and investigation.
In the penultimate paper of the issue, Yang and Yang describe a study to evaluate the efficiency of public goods provision in Wenchuan earthquake-stricken rural areas. The study involved a field survey of 24 villages.
The seventh and final paper, contributed by Tauber, examines three housing projects implemented by local non-governmental organisations and planned by local architects after the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 in rural South India. The paper attempts to examine empirically the implications of appointing architectural professionals in rural post-disaster contexts.
The issue concludes with a doctoral abstract by Ginige on mainstreaming women in DRR in the built environment.
Richard Haigh and Dilanthi Amaratunga - Global Disaster Resilience Centre, University of Huddersfield, UK