The call for a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach to disaster risk reduction (DRR) that would leave no one behind emerged as a strong refrain at the seventh session of the Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction 2022 (GP2022). In the spirit of “inclusive and networked multilateralism, international solidarity and cooperation,” the Global Platform explored ways to “stop the spiral of increasing disaster impact and risk,” and highlighted synergies between the DRR, sustainable development, and climate action agendas.

Convened by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) and hosted by the Government of Indonesia, GP2022 took place from 23-28 May 2022 in Bali. The Global Platform, which is the main multi-stakeholder forum to assess and discuss progress, share knowledge, and identify gaps in the implementation of the Sendai Framework for DRR 2015-2030, met under the theme, ‘From Risk to Resilience: Towards Sustainable Development for All in a COVID-19 Transformed World.’

GP2022 addressed three main sub-themes on disaster risk governance, COVID-19 recovery, and DRR financing. It also:

  • Discussed the Sendai Framework stocktaking for the ongoing mid-term review, which is expected to help enhance integration of DRR in the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), the 2023 SDG Summit, the Sharm El-Sheikh Climate Change Conference (COP 27) and the Global Stocktake of the Paris Agreement on climate change, and the UN 2023 Water Conference;
  • Deliberated actions to reduce disaster risk for the most vulnerable, including Indigenous Peoples, women, youth, and persons with disabilities, and to ensure their full and effective participation in decision making; and
  • Explored interlinkages with the sustainable development and climate action agendas and policies.

The meeting’s outcome is captured in a Co-Chairs’ summary of GP2022 titled, ‘Bali Agenda for Resilience.’

Sendai Framework aiding in SDG implementation

GP2022 convened at a critical time. The levels of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions “far exceed their mitigation,” leading to an “increase in frequency and intensity of catastrophic events.” Addressing the increasing impacts of climate change while ensuring a sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic presents additional challenges. Disruptions in global supply chains, inflation, and growing food insecurity caused by the war in Ukraine are “further deepening vulnerabilities of people living in the most disaster-prone parts of the world.” These “multiple and interlinked global crises” are exposing the world’s underlying inequities and vulnerabilities and putting at risk the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Bali Agenda for Resilience acknowledges that the SDGs “are not on track.” In a marked move from risk to resilience, it suggests that the full implementation of the Sendai Framework can help advance the Goals’ realization. Yet, it notes, disaster-related economic losses are on the rise, and in most countries, DRR progress and investment, especially in prevention, are insufficient. The document stresses that DRR must be integrated at the core of development and finance policies, legislation, and plans to achieve the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. It calls for effective, transformative approaches to COVID-19 recovery that would protect development gains and build back better, greener, and more equitably.

2030 Agenda accelerating preventive action while leaving no one behind

During her address at the opening ceremony, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed encouraged participants to “consider the best policy options to move from risk to resilience and to … ensure that the recovery from COVID-19 puts us on track for a safe and sustainable future.” She indicated that the 2030 Agenda and its 17 SDGs could serve as a comprehensive framework to achieve this, provided we act “with urgency and at scale” to “strengthen the humanitarian-development-peace nexus … where the vulnerable have the most risk of being left behind.”

This message resonated with the audience. The Bali Agenda notes that a core recommendation from the meeting is that a “Think Resilience” approach be applied to all investments and decision making, and that DRR be integrated “with the whole-of-government and whole-of-society.” The document highlights the crucial role of a participatory and human rights-based approach in DRR planning and implementation, and stresses the need for early warning systems that are multi-hazard and inclusive of communities most at risk. It indicates that recovery and reconstruction are most successful when they are community-driven and support existing local structures and resilience-building mechanisms, while addressing barriers to inclusivity through gender-responsive and human rights-based approaches.

Several other key messages from GP2022 recognize and build on the linkages between DRR and resilience building, climate action, and action to reduce biodiversity loss. The Bali Agenda highlights that DRR and climate change adaptation have the common objective of reducing vulnerability and enhancing capacity and resilience, necessitating a comprehensive disaster and climate risk management approach. It also recommends that ecosystems be considered as critical infrastructure and recognized for their basic services, bringing environmental, socioeconomic, and cultural benefits.

Way forward

GP2022 demonstrated that the Sendai Framework has the potential to help achieve the SDGs, much like the SDGs can support DRR and resilience building. It identified helpful synergies that can support action on both fronts. However, with understanding of risk from emerging and future hazards remaining limited and government policies largely reactive, effective disaster risk management (DRM) can still be hindered by approaches that are siloed and lacking in terms of intersectoral and transboundary components.

The Bali Agenda recognizes that better availability and quality of data, financial resources, effective governance, and coordination arrangements among stakeholders have an important role to play in addressing these challenges, including through improved multi-hazard early warning systems, particularly in least developed countries (LDCs), small island developing States (SIDS), and African countries.

In closing reflections, Mami Mizutori, Special Representative of the Secretary General for DRR and Head of UNDRR, emphasized that “we can never underestimate the role … human decisions play.” UN Deputy Secretary-General Mohammed also recognized the significance of human agency in noting that “our actions and decisions can inadvertently influence our risk and exposure.” But act we must. While it is imperative that policy decisions and actions be inclusive, sustainable, and risk informed, the “real cost of disasters is that of inaction.”

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Read the SDG Knowledge Hub policy brief on the Global Platform’s shift in approach from reducing risk to building resilience here.