UNISDR Guidelines Highlight Linkages between Disaster Risk, SDGs
UN Photo/Logan Abassi
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The UNISDR Guidelines on national disaster risk assessment focus on the first priority for action of the Sendai Framework for DRR, that of understanding disaster risk.

The Guidelines are intended to encourage countries to aim for “holistic assessments” that provide an understanding of the different dimensions of disaster risk, including hazards, exposures, vulnerabilities and capacities.

The report argues that understanding disaster risk is necessary to achieve the SDG, and explains that many of the SDGs focus on issues that are underlying drivers of risk.

13 October 2017: The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) has released guidelines to encourage more countries to undertake national disaster risk assessments (NDRAs), and to link them with policy and investment processes in order to improve preventative actions that reduce the number of deaths and the number of people displaced by disasters.

The publication titled, ‘Words into Action Guidelines: National Disaster Risk Assessment,’ focuses on governance, methodologies and use of results. Addressing the first priority for action of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), that of understanding disaster risk, the Guidelines aim to help implement the Sendai Framework for DRR, and contribute to reducing the number of those affected by disasters, in line with the theme of the International Day for Disaster Risk (IDDR) 2017.

The Guidelines are intended to motivate and guide countries to establish national systems for understanding disaster risk that would act as the “central repository” of publicly available risk information.

Speaking about the Guidelines, which were released on 13 October 2017, on IDDR, UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for DRR and Head of UNISDR, Robert Glasser, said that NDRAs are critical for economic planning and national investment strategies. The Guidelines are intended to motivate and guide countries to establish national systems for understanding disaster risk that would act as the “central repository” of publicly available risk information. Such national systems would also take the lead on implementing and updating NDRAs for use in disaster risk management (DRM).

The Guidelines are intended to encourage countries to aim for “holistic assessments” that provide an understanding of the different dimensions of disaster risk, including hazards, exposures, vulnerabilities and capacities. Such assessments would include diverse types of direct and indirect disaster impacts, such as physical, social, economic, environmental and institutional, and provide information on the underlying risk drivers, including climate change, poverty, inequality, weak governance and unchecked urban expansion.

According to the report, understanding disaster risk is necessary to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as many of the SDGs focus on issues that represent underlying drivers of risk. For example, achieving SDGs 1 (no poverty), 10 (reduced inequalities), 13 (climate action) and 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions) would also help reduce disaster risk. The report also describes how “bad development” can drive risk, for example through unregulated urban development or construction of vulnerable critical infrastructures.

The Guidelines are composed of three main parts. The first includes policy guidance on undertaking NDRAs, with a focus on understanding risk, preparing and scoping, conducting risk analysis, and utilizing assessment results for DRM and development decisions. The second section includes modules on specific issues to be considered when designing and carrying out NDRAs, such as: public communication for DRR; cross-sectoral and multi-risk approaches to cascading disasters; direct and indirect economic impact; health aspects; and citizens’ participation and crowd sourcing. The third section consists of more in-depth information on conducting risk assessment for specific hazards related to, inter alia, earthquakes, wildfires, tsunamis, coastal erosion, landslides, sea-level rise, floods and tropical cyclones.

Commissioned in 2016 as part of a series of thematic ‘Words into Action’ guidelines, the NDRA Guidelines are the result of a collaboration between over 100 experts from national authorities, international organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), academia, think tanks and the private sector. [UNISDR Press Release] [Publication Landing Page] [Words into Action Guidelines: National Disaster Risk Assessment]


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