Risk Reduction Requires Scientists – UN Conference in Spain

When it comes to disaster risk reduction, scientists matter.

Margareta Wahlström, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction and Head of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), spoke at the fifth European Forum for Disaster Risk Reduction (EFDRR).

According to a piece published on the UNISDR website, Wahlström said scientists can and should be significantly involved in international efforts to lower the prevalence and impact of disasters – but there needs to be a demand for scientists’ involvement in order for it to increase.

“It is demand-driven, and that demand has to come from you,” Wahlström said at the EFDRR, held in Madrid, Spain.

According to the article, “The role of science was among issues raised on the opening day of the conference. Others included the use of National Platforms to coordinate policy and the need for greater interaction with other global negotiations, notably on climate change. The conference is the latest in a series of regional meetings aimed at forging consensus on a new international framework for disaster reduction and revising the existing global blueprint, the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA).”

Next March, in Sendai, Japan, the third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Reduction will be held. The recommendations from EFDRR will be shared with the co-chairs of the Inter-Governmental Preparatory Committee working on a draft document in preparation for Sendai.

Wahlström said the new draft must spell out priorities for action and how those actions will be implemented, according to the article.

This framework is connected to two other global frameworks – climate change and sustainable development.

“Unfortunately we are not working together enough, the risk reduction community and the climate change community,” said Paul Watkinson, Head of the Climate Negotiation Team at the Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy in Paris. Climate talks are scheduled to be held in Paris in 2015, according to the article.

“Ahead of Sendai and in the run-up to Paris, we have the opportunity to work more closely. After all, everything we are doing is in the context of sustainable development for all,” Watkinson said in the article.

He also explained that climate change and disaster reduction are connected in various ways, including resilience, disaster impact, capacity building and monitoring.

Virginia Murray, a U.K. public health consultant and vice-chair of the UNISDR Science and Technology Advisory Group, was also quoted in the piece. According to the article, Murray said “the scientific community offers a means of achieving greater integration in the global agendas. Science can help monitor and review evidence and provide needed advice. Its role was not highlighted in the HFA and now was the time to remedy that,” she said.

“We need to create a basket to gather scientific knowledge on DRR,” said Murray, advocating for more involvement of scientists in disaster risk reduction.

However, she did point out that scientists sometimes have challenges with communicating effectively with the non-scientific community.

Mette Lindahl-Olsson, Head of Natural Hazards and Critical Infrastructure at the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency, said in the article that “a national platform, gathering a wide range of expertise, could help improve public awareness and concern about climate change and DRR. National platforms can help coordinate research, allocate resources and identify common needs.”

“They can play the same role on a national level as UNISDR plays globally,” she concluded in the article.


For more information, see the original article here: http://www.unisdr.org/archive/39688