International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction 2023 – Fighting inequality for a resilient future

By 2030, the world will face some 1.5 significant disasters per day (UNDRR, 2022). About 75% of extreme weather events are currently connected to climate change, fueled by carbon emissions. The countries experiencing the greatest losses from disasters are those who contributed the least to the problem (Climate Adaptation Platform, 2022).

Today is the 2023 International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction. The #DRRday was started in 1989, after a call by the United Nations General Assembly for a day to promote a global culture of risk-awareness and disaster reduction. Held every 13 October, the day celebrates how people and communities around the world are reducing their exposure to disasters and raising awareness about the importance of reining in the risks that they face. This year, #DRRday explores the reciprocal relationship between disasters and inequality. Inequality and disaster vulnerability are two sides of the same coin: unequal access to services, such as finance and insurance, leaves the most at risk exposed to the danger of disasters; while disaster impacts exacerbate inequalities and push the most at risk further into poverty. (UNDRR, 2023)

We can curb the destructive power of hazards—in other words, stop them from turning into disasters—through careful and coordinated planning that is designed to reduce people’s exposure and vulnerability to harm. If a hazard occurs in an area of no exposure, then there is no risk. The extent to which exposed people or economic assets are actually at risk is generally determined by how vulnerable they are, as it is possible to be exposed but not vulnerable. (PreventionWeb, 2023).

"Our world is plagued by a perfect storm on a number of fronts. Start with the short-term, a global economic crisis. The outlook is bleak. We see deepening inequalities and a rapidly unfolding cost-of-living crisis – affecting women and girls the most. Supply chain disruptions and an energy crunch. Soaring prices. Rising interest rates along with inflation. And debt levels pounding vulnerable countries."

– United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

The international community has set out its targets for reducing disaster risk in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015 – 2030). This year, it took stock of its implementation in the Midterm Review. There have been some successes. The number of annual death is lower than it used to be and many countries now have national strategies for disaster risk reduction, including Germany, which launched its strategy for increasing disaster resilience (Deutsche Strategie zur Stärkung der Resilienz) in 2022. However, a lot still needs to be done. Existing risk mechanisms and approaches are, as of yet, insufficient for addressing systemic, interdependent risks and cascading impacts of disasters.

10 years of GIDRM: A decade of fostering resilience and risk-informed development worldwide

Today, the Global Initiative on Disaster Risk Management (GIDRM), commissioned by the BMZ and implemented by GIZ, looks back on 10 years of supporting partners worldwide in their efforts to become more resilient to extreme events, safeguard development and protect lives.

Development—and thereby, also international cooperation—is taking place in a complex and uncertain environment of risks. Cornerstones of sustainable development such as achievements in terms of poverty reduction, combating illnesses and improving access to health care, education and basic services are fragile and are being undermined by new and emerging threats. At the same time, poor development choices can exacerbate or create risk. Disasters have impacts on a variety of areas and sectors such as the economy, public health, governance, tourism, critical infrastructure, and can have devastating effects in already fragile contexts, which makes disaster risk management a cross-sectoral issue.

In face of rising global challenges from disaster risk, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has set up GIDRM in 2013. Since then, the project has aimed at strengthening disaster risk management worldwide and to support the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

Risk-informed decision-making is a prerequisite for sustainable development and fundamental to preventing the creation of risk. Each development decision has the potential to foster resilient and sustainable development, but it is also potentially contributing to the creation of new or additional risks. There is no doubt that the way risks are managed needs to change. A more comprehensive and systemic understanding of risk can point to transformational change required for future development pathways to foster resilience and ensure longer-term sustainability.

GIDRM project phases at a glance

The first phase of the project started in 2013 and brought together German and international experts from the public and private sector, academia and civil society to facilitate mutual learning and to develop and pilot innovative solutions to reduce and manage disaster risks. GIDRM I worked with regional stakeholders in 15 pilot countries on three priority areas: (1) strengthening disaster response preparedness and civil protection, (2) resilient critical infrastructure and economic cycles, and (3) further development of effective early warning systems.

The second phase of GIDRM (2018-2020) supported selected international and national, governmental and non-governmental actors in their ambition to achieve coherence between the Sendai Framework and the Paris Climate Agreement, as well as the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and the New Urban Agenda, with regards to planning, implementing and reporting on disaster risk management. The project identified national and subnational examples of successful agenda coherence.

Despite the increasing awareness of their complex and systemic nature, risks are not always adequately taken into account in the planning and programming of development measures. Since November 2020, GIDRM III aims at supporting selected decision-makers, regional organizations, and initiatives in Southern Africa, Asia and Latin America in strengthening their capacities and skills to use risk-informed development.


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