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Daily report for 24 May 2017

2017 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction - From Commitment to Action

The 2017 Fifth Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) opened in Cancún, Mexico on Wednesday, 24 May 2017. Delegates met for a brief plenary session in the morning before engaging in two special sessions and four working sessions.

 In the afternoon, high-level delegates attended an opening ceremony, convened in a closed-door Leaders Forum led by the Mexican government, with others engaging in two working sessions in parallel. In the evening, the Government of Mexico hosted a reception. Side events were also held over the lunch break and in the late afternoon.


Moderating this morning session, Robert Glasser, Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for DRR and Head of the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), encouraged the finalization of national DRR strategies integrating climate and poverty reduction measures by 2020. Remberto Estrada Barba, Mayor, Benito Juárez, Quintana Roo, highlighted the role of local governments in implementing DRR measures. Luis Felipe Puente, National Coordinator for Civil Protection, Mexico, noted the unique opportunity presented by the Global Platform to lower disaster risk for future generations.


The ceremony commenced with a Mayan cultural performance. Opening the fifth Global Platform for DRR, Robert Glasser, SRSG UNISDR, stressed that “we come to Cancún not to talk, but to work,” highlighting that the Sendai Framework urges better management of the risks which create disasters and integrated action on climate and disaster risk.

Carlos Joaquin Gonzales, Governor, Quintana Roo, Mexico, highlighted the country’s role in fostering civil protection nationally and internationally and drew attention to preparedness measures implemented to overcome disasters in Quintana Roo.

Luis Videgaray Caso, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mexico, welcomed the Sendai Framework as innovative due to its human-centred approach; stressed the need to understand that human actions influence the environment; and called for positive actions to address anthropological climate change. He highlighted that the 2017 Global Platform influences Mexico’s foreign affairs, such as encouraging the country to pay greater attention to Small Island Developing States (SIDS), particularly in those in the Caribbean, and noted that the Framework and the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda need to be addressed concurrently.

Amina Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General, highlighted that the UN Secretary General has prioritized prevention measures to address global challenges including climate change, disaster risk and poverty, noting that the best way to implement these measures is through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She urged all relevant stakeholders to enhance their efforts to reduce existing levels of vulnerability and exposure, and called for a focus on poverty, inequality, climate change, the rise of informal settlements and environmental decline. Mohammed lauded the paradigm shift from managing disasters to managing disaster risk, and welcomed discussion on the Sendai Framework Monitor Prototype.

Enrique Peña Nieto, President of Mexico, shared the country’s exposure to a vast number of risks including earthquakes, flooding and volcanic eruptions, and pointed to the practices of ancient cultures to understand and address forces of nature. President Nieto highlighted that Mexico has faced 166 disasters since 2002, underscoring the role of the Civil Protection Agency in addressing these effectively, and lamented that 90% of deaths due to disasters take place in low and lower-middle income communities. He called on the Global Platform to support countries which require additional capacity to complement their national endeavors to reduce disaster risk. He reiterated his commitment to support Global Platform policies to strengthen capacity at the institutional level for DRR.



Session Moderator Aris Papadopoulos, Titan America LLC, opened the session. Session Co-Chair Shigeki Habuka, Vice Minister, Cabinet Office, Japan, discussed his country’s progress rebuilding communities and infrastructure after the 2011 East Japan earthquake, including strides in stakeholder participation, enhancing disaster preparedness and response policy frameworks. Session Co-Chair Lourdes Tibán, Member of Parliament, Ecuador, discussed recent disasters in the country and the need to account for the special circumstances of the most vulnerable in disaster preparedness and response strategies.

Panelists Inonge Wina, Vice President, Zambia; Khaled Abu Aisheh, Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority; Marcie Roth, Federal Emergency Management Agency, US; and Johann Luchner, European Commission, addressed issues including: mainstreaming disaster risk management into international and national development policies; creating disaster databases to facilitate knowledge sharing and stakeholder engagement; enhancing public-private partnerships; facilitating comprehensive risk assessments; ensuring explicit and thorough inclusiveness; and ensuring equal treatment of disaster preparedness and response measures.

The ensuing discussion considered disaster preparedness and response gaps such as: mobilization of resources and long-term incentives; public understanding of disaster risk; ‘building better’ before disasters through ambitious building codes; clear representations of the costs and benefits of disaster preparedness; and the need for broad regional cooperation.


Moderator David Edgar Tonoyan, Minister of Emergency Situations, Armenia, opened the session by highlighting three focus areas: how to make early warning systems (EWS) more effective and efficient; how to ensure EWS are available to all; and how to promote cooperation and investment in EWS. Session Co-Chair Sharon Baghwan Rolls, Coordinator of the FemLINKPACIFIC, Fiji, emphasized that EWS should empower and support women while ensuring their safety and dignity. Session Co-Chair Gautier Mignot, Director, Sustainable Development, Ministry of Interior, France, discussed the need for EWS to focus on end-users in the context of their communities and the need to foster synergies and coordination between various stakeholders and policies.

Panelists Petteri Talaas, Secretary-General, World Meteorological Organization; Hirano, Member of Parliament, Japan; Elliot Jacks, US National Weather Service; and Molly Nielson, Principal Disaster Management Officer, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Samoa, addressed issues including: the importance of coordinating centers that deal with various types of hazards like floods or volcanic eruptions, the importance of integrating traditional knowledge into EWS, the importance of individual education and awareness regarding disaster risk and its management, the importance that EWS take local context into account, and the need to ensure that EWS are clear and usable to those who need it when they need it.

In the discussion, panelists considered overarching challenges for EWS, public-private and regional coordination efforts to improve EWS, how to ensure that EWS convey both forecasts and impacts to relevant stakeholders, how to ensure that EWS can reach a variety of users with a variety of needs, how EWS can deal with issues of displacement, and the importance of governance leadership to ensure an effective EWS.



Wais Ahmad Barmak, Minister of Disaster Management and Humanitarian Affairs, Afghanistan, chaired the session, which considered the importance of critical infrastructure in addressing disaster risk reduction. P.K. Mishra, Prime Minister’s Office, India, and Michele Young, Asia Regional Shelter and Construction Advisor, Save the Children, highlighted the need to involve local communities, including in capacity building, in order to strengthen resilience and construct improved critical infrastructure. Hans Sy, President, SM Prime, emphasized the importance of incentives for the private sector and collaboration between sectors to improve critical infrastructure.

In the ensuing discussions, one participant underscored the benefits of improving regulations and design codes in infrastructure. In response to an audience statement, panelists agreed that maintaining infrastructure in the post-construction period was a critical challenge for DRR. Other panelists presented cases from Japan, and Peru, and the utility of insurance in risk transference.


Mercedita Sombilla, National Economic and Development Authority, the Philippines and Yannick Glemarec, Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director for Policy and Programme, UN Women, co-chaired the morning working session, which aimed to consult with stakeholders on the Sendai Framework Monitor Prototype, and highlight that disaster risk is not shared equally. Marc Gordon, UNISDR, introduced the Prototype, underscoring its objective to help inform decision-making, implement the Sendai Framework, as well as coordinate inputs from countries to integrate global reporting to multiple frameworks.

Panelists from Uganda, India, Lebanon, and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) shared experiences, raising opportunities to, inter alia: encourage multistakeholder participation; support national and regional development planning; and export data for further analysis. Ensuing discussions addressed challenges regarding the availability of resources for capacity building, and support reporting compliance to multiple global frameworks.


David Douglas Des Van Rooyen, Ministry of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, South Africa, chaired the session, recognizing internal and cross-border displacement caused by disasters. Ingrid Hoven, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Germany, highlighted the benefits of: risk transference from insurance; knowledge exchange; integration of humanitarian response with long-term aid; and the need for more financial resources for DRR.

Rolf Alter, Director of Public Governance, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), outlined how countries could implement DRR, including through: coordination; experience sharing; and inclusiveness. Through an example of map making, Sandra Wu, Chairperson and CEO, Kokusai Kogyo Co. Ltd, called for international cooperation to build an enabling environment for information sharing. Other panelists highlighted the importance and commitment of financial partners, such as the World Bank.

Closing the session, Van Rooyen, reiterated the need for: cooperation at all levels; multi-year funding; and integration of local communities in DRR strategies.


Riikka Laatu, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Finland and Simon Young, African Risk Capacity Insurance Company Limited, co-chaired the morning working session, introducing parametric insurance mechanisms and basis risk as innovative tools to reduce the cost of insurance and hasten payout. Shaun Tarbuck, CEO, International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation, referred to insurance as the “ultimate community product” to build risk literacy, and Robert Muir-Wood, Risk Management Solutions, discussed risk transfer and risk insurance “as a pair of twins that work best when together.”

Phil Evans, CEO, Met Office, reflected on human and social scale of challenges and opportunities in disaster, identifying transparency as key to resolution of these challenges. Liliana Cardozo de Cano, Tarjy, shared experiences using innovative insurance tools in Paraguay, with Sophia Belay, Oxfam America, sharing insights from working closely with small-scale farmers, underscoring the importance of monitoring and evaluation. Participants discussed, inter alia: integrating risk transfer and strategy to build resilience; and the role of partnerships. 


Co-Chair Ricardo Peña-Herrero, Undersecretary of Risk Analysis, Ecuador, opened the session. Co-Chair Fatih Özer, Department Head, Disaster & Emergency Management Authority of Turkey, stated that disasters thwart societies’ ability to deliver long-term planning and that databases are essential to achieve reductions in disaster risks. Panelists Tom de Groeve, Joint Research Centre, EU; Bapon Fakhruddin, Senior Specialist in DRR and Climate Resilience, Bangladesh; Jutta May, Information and Knowledge Management Specialist, Noumea, New Caledonia; and Anoja Seneviratne, Director of Mitigation Research and Development, Sri Lanka, presented regional, national, and local experiences with disaster data collection and management, including best practices, lessons learned and challenges. Panelists emphasized the need for coherent approaches and standardized frameworks. In the ensuing discussion, they considered disaster funding, data collection on displacement, and best practices regarding coordination with the private sector.


Chloe Demrovsky, Executive Director, Disaster Recovery Institute, chaired the working session. Daniel Stander, Global Managing Director, Risk Management Solutions, named opportunities such as moving from indicator to metric based approaches to articulate risks and value resilience, in order to access the US$80 billion available for investments in resilient infrastructure. Mark Crosweller, Director General, Emergency Management, Australia, called for deeper engagement to ‘imagine’ consequences of catastrophe in order to better inform choices at the time of an actual disaster, saying “likelihood does not reduce consequence.” Dale Sands, CH2M, called for solutions that are feasible, financially viable and politically acceptable. Jesús González Arellano, KPMG Mexico, identified the need to integrate, not only among sectors but also in global agreements, to create synergy and adapt to a quickly changing world. Participants then discussed, inter alia, potential incentives and regulations of metrics.

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