Climate change disaster reduction planning: moving from periphery to centre

(This article was originally posted here)  

Climate change is a clear and present danger, forcing countries to evolve their policies constantly to keep up, participants at the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction said today. 

“It’s clear that climate change is going to have dramatic consequences for disaster risk reduction, particularly for poorer countries,” said Mr. Phil Evans, Government Services Director at the United Kingdom’s Met Office. 

The scale of the challenge makes it all the more important to seize the unique opportunity of 2015, given that this year sees three interlocking events: The World Conference, then a summit of global leaders on the Sustainable Development Goals in New York in September, and finally, in Paris in December, the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. 

All three events are part of international efforts to chart out future policy to cope with the changing climate and rein in impacts such as increasingly frequent and extreme super-storms or droughts. 

“In the context of disaster risk reduction and climate change, 2015 is a remarkable opportunity to address these issues,” said Evans. 

Bangladesh, one of the most climate-vulnerable countries in the world, has won wide praise for its disaster risk reduction policies. The cyclones and floods of the past claimed tens of thousands of lives in the low-lying South Asian nation, but community-based early warning and evacuation plans have helped pull the toll down into the hundreds. 

The Bangladeshi government is doing even more to meet the challenge head on, said Mr Shahid Ulla Mia, Additional Secretary at the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief. 

“Momentum on management of disaster and climate risk across all levels is on the rise in Bangladesh,” he said. 

“These have translated into high political commitment, growing public investments, advancement of risk-informed development, formulation of institutional and legislative policy for disaster risk management, innovation, use of technological solutions, and finally, promotion of the ‘whole of government’ and ‘whole of society’ approach for managing risk.

“Disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation have moved from the periphery to the centre of development planning. The agenda of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation is the top of the political agenda in Bangladesh.” The picture is similar in the Philippines, which is regularly battered by typhoons. 

“Investing in climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction is critical to maintain development gains,” said the Philippines’ Climate Change Commissioner Lucille Sering, underscoring that the need to tackle the issue had spurred a common approach by all branches of the country’s government. 

Written by:Jonathan Fowler, communicator at the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction.