A next global framework known as the Post-2015 Hyogo Framework for action on disaster risk reduction is being negotiated for endorsement at the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan this week.
Over 3,000 delegates have gathered in Sendai, including Pacific island countries who are no strangers to disasters.
Just this month, it took a single category five Cyclone Pam to wreak havoc and devastation across four Pacific islands – Kiribati, Tuvalu, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, bringing fatalities and leaving thousands homeless.
Climate change exacerbates risks and disasters impact, propelling Pacific island governments to be proactive, finding Pacific solutions through the integration of climate change and disasters under the one regional framework, ahead of the endorsement of the new incoming global post-2015 framework.
“It is hoped that again the new framework will voluntarily commit the world to reducing the risks of disaster impacts through prior planning, capacity building, preparedness, response, recovery and resilient rebuilding,” said Dr. Netatua Pelesikoti, the Director of the Climate Change Division at the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).
Having had a long history with disaster risk reduction, Dr. Pelesikoti was present at the second UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction when the 2005 – 2015 Hyogo Framework for Action was endorsed.
“The new post 2015 framework will guide governments and communities around the world to strengthening resiliency in the context of sustainable development in the face of high risk and vulnerability to many climate related and geological hazards.”
That is at the global level, how this translates to the national level will depend upon the drive and commitment from governments, communities, agencies and people.
“For the people of the Pacific who are in the frontline to cope, those that are highly vulnerable to the risks of climate change, climate variability and geological hazards the difference this new framework will make on the ground will firstly be based on each governments commitments and leadership, resources ear marked for on-the-ground implementation and technology transfer,” explains Dr. Pelesikoti.
“Through the international framework and the Strategy for Climate and Disaster Resilient Development for the Pacific we have heard Pacific Leaders here in Sendai calling for expedited transference of technology and resources, capacity building, risk reduction and adaptation where Pacific countries are on the driver’s seat to successful implementation and ownership.”
So what is it that the Pacific island communities would like to see represented within this new post-2015 Framework?
For the Cook Islands, it is important that the international cooperation is not fragmented to ensure that the new mechanism is working smartly.
“How about removing some of that fragmentation through clarifying objectives; roles; responsibilities; streamlining modalities of delivering on common outcomes; simplifying access to finance; and consolidating monitoring and evaluation processes and so forth,” presented the Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Mr. Tutai Tura, during a special ministerial session on international cooperation at the 3WCDRR.
“As we go through this process, I hope we can act as artists and take a step back to see the larger composition, hopefully clearly defining and identifying what it is that we are creating here.”
A key gathering that has been held parallel to the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction is the Youth and Children Forum.
The strong presence of over 200 youth at this global event rings true the belief that this new post-2015 framework is one that the future generation will inherit.
“I think for the sake of our Pacific youth and children we need to see that climate change and disaster risk reduction is strongly linked as a lot of the disasters we are facing are made stronger because of climate change,” said Ms. Inangaro Vakaafi, the Vice Chair of the Pacific Youth Council, currently in Sendai, Japan.
“We are facing these problems and disasters now, not ten years down the line, and although we may not have large populations like some of the other regions, we are just as important, if not more important as we are living in a high risks region and compounded with socio-economic vulnerabilities . It is something that our young people and children have had to grow up with.”
For Ms. Adi Vasulevu Merewalasi of FemLINKPACIFIC, what she’d like to see in this new post-2015 framework is a simple but extremely vital point, to ensure its success thus saving lives and livelihoods.
“I would like to see that it is implemented in our in the Pacific and is taken seriously and respond to it actively at ground level at rural community level.”
Ms. Vasulevu presented as part of a special panel at the 3WCDRR on the topic of “Mobilising Women’s Leadership in Disaster Risk Reduction” sharing the experiences and lessons learned in working with rural women to strengthen their disaster resilience.
Despite the language and outcomes in the new post-205 framework on disaster risk reduction, one point is very clear as we unite with our Pacific family to support Vanuatu, Kiribati, Tuvalu and the Solomon Islands as they start to work on rebuilding their lives and country after Cyclone Pam.
Building resilience is not something that you can achieve after a few years and then ignore.
“Building resilience should be our new daily business,” said Dr. Pelesikoti.
“And as such we should institutionalise adaptations and risk reduction if we in the Pacific are going to achieve our development aspirations, have worthwhile lives, and maintain our rich cultures and identity.”