International Strategy for Disaster Reduction
Latin America and the Caribbean   

Newsletter ISDR Inform - Latin America and the Caribbean
Issue: 13/2006- 12/2006 - 11/2005 - 10/2005 - 9/2004 - 8/2003 - 7/2003 - 6/2002 - 5/2002 - 4/2001- 3/2001



WCDR adopts the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015: Building the resilience of nations and communities

The UN World Conference on Disaster Reduction (WCDR) which took place in Kobe Hyogo, Japan (18-22 Jan. 2005), started in the shadow of the recent Indian Ocean disaster, but ended with a strong message of hope formulated in two negotiated documents: the Hyogo Declaration and the Hyogo Framework for Action for the next ten years. Taking place less than one month after the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster, the conference heard numerous voices around to globe pledging to create a safer world.

The WCDR is a milestone event that builds on the findings of the review of the Yokohama Strategy adopted 10 years ago. More than 4000 participants attended the WCDR, including representatives from 168 governments, including more than 40 ministers, 78 UN specialized agencies and observer organizations, 161 non-governmental organizations, and 562 journalists from 154 media outlets. The Public Forum of the conference attracted more than 40,000 visitors.

The 5-day conference resulted in two negotiated documents: a program outcome document entitled: “Building the resilience of nations and communities to disasters: Hyogo Framework of Action 2005-2015” and the “Hyogo Declaration”. In addition delegates adopted a “Common statement on the Special Session on the Indian Ocean Disaster: Risk Reduction for a Safer Future”. The 24-page outcome document Hyogo Framework for Action resolves to pursue “the substantial reduction of disaster losses, in lives and in the social, economic and environmental assets of communities and countries by 2015”. The framework outlines three strategic goals to achieve this, namely:

• The more effective integration of disaster risk considerations into sustainable development policies, planning and programming at all levels, with a special emphasis on disaster prevention, mitigation, preparedness and vulnerability reduction;
• The development and strengthening of institutions, mechanisms and capacities at all levels, in particular at the community level, that can systematically contribute to building resilience to hazards;
• The systematic incorporation of risk reduction approaches into design and implementation of emergency preparedness, response and recovery programs in the reconstruction of affected communities.

The Framework also outlines general considerations and key activities in the following five areas, identified as priorities for 2005-2015:

• Ensuring that disaster risk reduction is a national and local priority with a strong institutional basis for implementation
• Identifying, assessing and monitoring disaster risks and enhancing early warning;
• Using knowledge, innovation and education to build a culture of safety and resilience at all levels;
• Reducing underlying risk factors; and
• Strengthening disaster preparedness for effective response at all levels.

The Framework document sets out that the goals and priorities for action should be addressed by different stakeholders in a multi-sectoral approach, including States, regional and international organizations. It requests assistance from the ISDR partners, particularly the members of the Inter-agency task force (IATF), in consultation with relevant UN agencies, regional and multilateral organizations, technical and scientific institutions, interested states, and civil society to develop generic, realistic and measurable indicators to help States assess their progress in implementation of the Framework. These indicators should be in conformity with internationally agreed development goals, including MDGs. States are also encouraged to develop and refine indicators at the national level. On resource mobilization, States are to undertake the following:

• Mobilize resources and capabilities of national, regional and international bodies;
• Support the Framework’s implementation in disaster prone developing countries, inter alia, addressing debt sustainability;
• Mainstream disaster risk reduction measures into development assistance programs, including those related to adaptation of climate change
• Contribute to the UN Trust Fund for Disaster Reduction; and
• Develop partnerships to spread out risks, reduce insurance premiums and increase financing for post-disaster reconstruction and rehabilitation

At the national level, the Framework document requests, inter alia, governments to create and strengthen national disaster reduction mechanisms, such as multisectoral national platforms, with designated responsibilities at national through local levels to facilitate coordination across sectors. National platforms should also facilitate coordination across sectors including maintaining a broad based dialogue at national and regional levels for promoting awareness among the relevant sectors (For more information on National platforms, please see pp.14-16).

The Hyogo Declaration is a 3-page document, negotiated by the Main Committee and adopted by the delegates of 168 countries at the plenary on 22nd January. Through the Declaration, the delegates recognize the close relationship between disaster reduction, sustainable development and poverty eradication, as well as the importance of involving all the stakeholders of the society. It also recognizes that a culture of disaster prevention must be fostered at all levels and that resilience of nations must be built further through people-centered early warning systems, risk assessments, education and other proactive, integrated, multi-hazard and multi-sectoral approaches. (See pages 8-9)

These non-binding documents will serve as a “blue print” to guide nations, and individuals in building disaster-resilient communities. Building on the commitments forged in Yokohama, ten years ago, the renewed plan calls on the international community to pursue an integrated multi-hazard approach for sustainable development to reduce the impact of disasters.

In addition to the intergovernmental segment and the drafting committee, composed of the country delegates, the conference included also three high level roundtables, 5 thematic panels and 46 sessions, regional and subregional meetings, as well as the rich and dynamic exchange of ideas that took place in the public forum, with many concrete examples and guidance on how to effectively apply disaster reduction.

The WCDR coincided with the 10th anniversary of the great Hanshin-Awaiji earthquake that claimed more than 6,000 lives and cost 100bn USD. However, it was the recent Indian Ocean disaster, triggered by the earthquake and tsunami, which affected at least 12 countries, and caused death of over 225,000 people, that provided additional relevance to WCDR.

Two special sessions focusing on the Indian Ocean disaster were organized during the conference. Conference participants recognized the urgent need to establish a regional early warning system in the Indian Ocean. They also emphasized the United Nation’s responsibility on coordinating the new early warning system in the Indian Ocean, as well as the importance of continuing international and regional dialogue. Thailand proposed a ministerial meeting on regional cooperation on tsunami early warning arrangements, which was held in Phuket the following week of the conference to further the political impetus emanated during the WCDR. Germany offered to host a UN conference focusing on early warning, scheduled to be held in Bonn, in 2006.

At the closing session of the WCDR, Mr. Jan Egeland, Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, ommented on the outcome of the conference by saying that, “The Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015 will strengthen the capacity of disaster prone countries to address risk and invest heavily in disaster preparedness. This new plan will help reduce the gap between what we know and what we do; the critical ingredient is political commitment”. The President of the Conference, Mr. Yoshitaka Murata of Japan, said “ these five days spent in Kobe will make a real difference in the way we look at hazards, at risk and vulnerability, and that we all truly engage on the road for a safer world.”

The ISDR secretariat thanks all the stakeholders, including the entire UN system, governments and the civil society, who contributed in making the conference a success. For more information on the conference, see pages: 5-9 and visit the conference website: