Disaster risk reduction (DRR) safeguards the lives and livelihoods of those who are most exposed to disasters or emergencies. Whether the crisis is caused by nature or humans (or a combination of the two), DRR mitigates the negative consequences for those who are most vulnerable. DRR aims to prevent new risks from arising, to minimize current risks, and to improve overall resilience.
Disaster risk reduction not only saves lives, but also helps to improve them, freeing up finances for groups like Concern to invest in long-term development rather than in-the-moment disaster relief. Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) is a prevention-oriented approach to reducing the damage caused by natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, droughts, and cyclones.
The poorest, most vulnerable or unstable communities bear a disproportionately high cost of catastrophic disasters. Natural disasters kill seven times more people in low- and middle-income countries. While steps like the Paris Climate Agreement have been implemented to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, they are insufficient to prevent the next tragedy.
We can’t anticipate the unexpected, but we can prepare for it. The number of disasters is on the rise, posing a serious threat to people’s survival, dignity, and livelihood, particularly for the poor and their hard-won development benefits. Disaster risk is becoming a more global concern, and its influence and actions in one location can affect dangers in another, and vice versa.
DRR is regulated at the international level, although it is mostly regulated at the domestic level. DRR is considered a critical component of national strategies and domestic legislation. Despite this, just a few bilateral and regional disaster risk management agreements have lately been ratified.
The 1992 Convention on the Transboundary effects of Industrial Accidents (hereafter, the Convention on industrial accidents) requires States Parties to “take appropriate legislative, regulatory, administrative, and financial measures for the prevention of, and preparedness for industrial accidents.”
Article 6 reaffirms States Parties’ commitment to establish “appropriate measures for the prevention of industrial accidents, including measures to urge operators to take action to limit the risk of industrial accidents. States Parties should, in particular, adopt legislative and guidance documents on safety measures and standards; identify hazardous activities that require special preventive measures; evaluate risk analyses for hazardous activities; produce an action plan for the implementation of necessary measures; provide competent authorities with the information needed to assess risks; provide all persons engaged in hazardous activities with appropriate training; and monitor the implementation of necessary measures.
The disadvantage of such a Convention is the lack of an effective mechanism of accountability. All ‘Parties shall support suitable international efforts to create rules, standards, and processes in the field of responsibility and liability,’ according to Article 13. States Parties have a lot of leeway when it comes to decision making.
The 1998 Tampere Convention on the Provision of Telecommunication Resources for Disaster Mitigation and Relief Operations (hereinafter referred to as the Tampere Convention) mandates that States Parties establish the enabling environment components. The use of telecommunication resources for disaster mitigation, in combination with ‘measures meant to avoid, predict, plan for, respond to, monitor, and/or mitigate the impact of disasters,’ creates an enabling environment for disaster risk reduction.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) of 1992 can be thought of as a DRR tool. States In order to cope with the combined consequences of climate change and disaster risk, UNFCCC Parties should implement constitutive measures of an enabling environment for DRR.
They must, in particular, develop, implement, publish, and regularly update national and regional programs that include climate change considerations; collaborate in preparing for climate change adaptation; develop and elaborate appropriate and integrated plans for coastal zone management, water resources, and agriculture, as well as for the protection and rehabilitation of areas affected by drought and desertification, as well as floods; and promote and cooperate in climate change adaptation planning; enhance climate change education, training, and public awareness, and encourage the broadest possible engagement in this process.
The 2005 ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (hereafter referred to as the ASEAN agreement) aims to “provide effective mechanisms to achieve substantial reductions in disaster losses in lives and in the social, economic, and environmental assets of the State Parties, as well as to jointly respond to disaster emergencies” in the Asia–Pacific region. The ASEAN Agreement appears to take a comprehensive approach to disaster management, disaster risk reduction, and disaster response.
The adoption of precautionary measures to prevent, monitor, and mitigate disasters, the mainstreaming of DRR efforts into sustainable development policies, and the involvement of all stakeholders, including local communities, non-governmental organizations, and private enterprises in addressing disaster risks are its three main principles, which sum up the core components of an enabling environment for DRR. State Parties are expected to create and execute legislative and regulatory measures for disaster prevention and mitigation, as well as policies, plans, programs, and strategies, under the normative requirements.
At the bilateral level, certain bilateral treaties that have been chosen for their relevance to the topic demonstrate how States interact to create an enabling environment. The 2001 Protocol of Intentions on Disaster Prevention and Management Cooperation between the United States of America and the Republic of the Philippines has specific measures that address the enabling environment components.
Article 1(1), for example, outlines co-operation procedures that, if adopted, will strengthen the Philippines’ National Disaster Coordinating Council, which serves as the country’s primary inter-institutional disaster-risk management body.
Both states plan to host an exchange of emergency management specialists and practitioners to aid in the creation of programs and activities, such as the sharing of expertise, experience, and information, as well as the transfer of modern disaster management technologies. The Protocol plays a part in the step-by-step process that results in an enabling environment.
The Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) 2005–2015, adopted at the World Conference on Disaster Reduction, is the most important international tool for disaster prevention and reduction (hereafter, WCDR). The HFA identifies five action objectives that define the essential elements of a disaster-resilient environment. The UN General Assembly approved the HFA in 2006 with a non-binding resolution that stated, “The General Assembly endorses the Hyogo Declaration and the Hyogo Framework Agreement 2005–2015.
Though not legally binding, the HFA points out that:
‘Each State has the primary responsibility for its own sustainable development and for taking effective measures to reduce disaster risk […]. At the same time, in the context of increasing global interdependence, concerted international cooperation and an enabling international environment are required to stimulate and contribute to developing the knowledge, capacities and motivation needed for disaster risk reduction at all levels.
The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 identifies seven specific goals and four action objectives for preventing new disasters and reducing existing ones: Understanding disaster risk; (ii) Improving disaster risk governance to manage disaster risk; (iii) Investing in disaster reduction for resilience; and (iv) Improving disaster readiness for effective response, as well as “Building Back Better” in recovery, rehabilitation, and reconstruction.
Over the next 15 years, it intends to significantly reduce disaster risk and losses in terms of lives, livelihoods, and health, as well as economic, physical, social, cultural, and environmental assets of individuals, businesses, communities, and countries. On March 18, 2015, the UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan, accepted the Framework.