Last year, torrential rainfall and landslides in the Balkans affected more than 1 million people, setting back the economy of Bosnia and Herzegovina by about 15 percent of GDP. As temperatures warm, the frequency and intensity of storms of that magnitude and droughts is expected to rise. 

In this context, over 9,000 people are gathering in Sendai, Japan, this week for the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction with the goal of launching a new international framework to guide implementation of disaster risk management efforts worldwide in years to come. 

“With disasters becoming more common and frequent with an ever changing climate, ‘planning for the worst’ must assume a central role in development,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. “We need more funding to help build up the resilience of people, their communities and their countries to the impacts of climate change and disasters. We cannot just wait for disasters to strike.”

A new framework for action

The new post-2015 framework is a successor to the Hyogo Framework for Action(2005-2015), which has been an effective tool to motivate and track the progress of countries as they build resilience to disasters.  

Much progress has been achieved over the last decade, but much remains to be done. This is particularly true in developing countries, where cities are expanding quickly and investing in new infrastructure, homes, and schools. More construction is expected in the next 20 years than occurred in the past 6,000. To avoid putting people at risk, it is crucial to make sure this infrastructure is both planned and built for resilience.

The proposed goal of the zero draft for the new framework recognizes the need to prevent the creation of new risks as well as reduce existing risk. This new framework provides an opportunity to build on the Hyogo Framework’s strengths, improve on recognized shortcomings, and drive the mainstreaming of disaster risk management in countries’ sustainable development and poverty reduction approaches. 

The reduction of accumulated risk is also acknowledged and important. Not every home or every school can be retrofitted for resilience, but millions of lives could be saved with better early warning and enhanced response systems, improved drainage and strengthened infrastructure. 

New resources for disaster risk reduction

With a growing disaster risk management portfolio, totaling $5.3 billion in fiscal year 2014, the World Bank Group sees resilience and risk reduction as central to its goals of alleviating poverty and boosting shared prosperity. 

The World Bank Group and GFDRR will contribute to sessions in Sendai, including ministerial round-tables, multi-stakeholder working sessions, and public forum sessions. These will focus on critical disaster risk management issues, include building back better after disasters, enhancing resilience of small island states, and, through a special edition of the Resilience Dialogue, advancing post-2015 resilience goals. The conference will also feature the launch of a Challenge Fund to support disaster risk identification projects, supported by GFDRR and the UK Department for International Development.

The World Bank Group and GFDRR will be releasing several new publications, including an infographic report called Investing in Resilience, a policy note building the business case for DRM entitled the Triple Dividend of Resilience, an updated Disaster Recovery Framework Guide, four new reports on specific disaster risk management topics informing the Global Assessment Reports (GAR), produced in partnership with UNISDR, two new reports on community-driven development and a new set of GFDRR Stories of Impact.

This is a landmark year for international agreements, including the Sustainable Development Goalsclimate negotiations in Paris, and financing for development discussions in Addis Ababa. The World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction has the potential to set the tone for these discussions, ensuring they integrate the theme of resilience so that we are able to collectively as an international community, and at the country-level, develop policies and actions toward sustainable, resilient solutions in the face of rising climate and disaster challenges.

“The Hyogo Framework for Action was crucial in focusing international attention and effort towards the reduction of disaster risk,” said Rachel Kyte, World Bank vice president and special envoy for climate change. “The year ahead offers a unique opportunity to take this momentum to the next level – starting here in Sendai, and later in Addis Ababa and Paris. Through these defining development and climate negotiations, we can ensure that resilience is fully integrated in the post-2015 development framework.”