GFDRR’s Partnership Days event, which was held online from February 23 to 24, 2022, was the first of its kind. It likely won’t be the last: gathering well over 100 attendees on each day, the inaugural event had GFDRR members, observers, partners, and World Bank staff from all over the world actively participating. The event, which kicked off with opening remarks from World Bank Group President David Malpass, was an opportunity to demonstrate the global impact of GFDRR’s work through a dynamic combination of videos, live Q&A discussions, and breakout room sessions.
Resilience & Climate Change was the main theme of the first day. Resilience, after all, should be an urgent priority as the world faces intensifying hazards exacerbated by a changing climate. A conversation on how countries have put disaster risk resilience planning into practice featured representatives of GFDRR member countries and organizations as well as implementation partners from Bhutan, The Gambia, and India. The insights from this live discussion emphasized the importance of learning from other contexts while adapting these lessons to local needs.
On the second day, two overarching themes underlined the reality of existing risks that are compounded by climate change: Inclusive Disaster Risk Management (DRM) & Gender Equality and the Disaster Risk Management–Fragility, Conflict and Violence (DRM-FCV) Nexus. Sarah Charles, Assistant to the Administrator of USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance and GFDRR co-chair, set the tone for the day in her opening remarks by stressing the urgency of the combined climate change, conflict, and COVID-19 crises and the need for an approach that takes the unique needs of marginalized groups into account.
Indeed, disasters do not affect everyone equally. Since the effects of disasters rely largely on social factors that already contribute to vulnerability, it is women, children, the elderly, and people with disabilities— to name some examples—who are at a further disadvantage when disasters hit their homes. In FCV environments, these threats are magnified since conflict and climate change can mutually reinforce each other and lead to devastating losses.
A conversation on these intersecting risks involved GFDRR government partners from Indonesia, Romania, and Gaza City illustrating the challenges of operating in their respective environments as well as representatives of GFDRR member countries underscoring the need for more engagement with partners in FCV contexts.
“With the technical assistance program supported by GFDRR, the integration of social inclusion and gender equality has been achieved through the incorporation of universal accessibility design and standards in both design and construction phases . . . GFDRR has [also] helped to establish good practices to prevent and manage gender-based violence,” said Astriana Harjanti from Indonesia’s Ministry of Public Works and Housing.
Breakout room sessions, which were held toward the end of each day, focused on thematic areas under GFDRR and gave attendees the opportunity to learn more about the different facets of the global facility’s work by joining the breakout rooms of their choice. Each breakout room was hosted by a group of GFDRR experts who presented an overview of their area’s activities and facilitated a discussion with the attendees in the room.
In concluding each day of the event, GFDRR Practice Manager Niels Holm-Nielsen reiterated that GFDRR has been instrumental in influencing DRM and climate resilience not only at the World Bank, but around the world. This has enabled GFDRR to create a multiplier effect that has mobilized large amounts of development financing to implement disaster and climate risk management work in its partner countries representing varying contexts.