Background

The Committee recalled that, at its first regular session of 2011, CEB committed to mainstreaming disaster risk reduction in the programmes and operations of the UN system through the development of a common agenda, and to give disaster risk reduction the highest political support.  The Board also agreed to continue working on the further implementation of HLCP’s recommendations at its 16th session on disaster risk reduction, and to consider how such recommendations might be expanded and broadened in light of disaster impact trends.

At its 23rd session, HLCP requested Ms. Margareta Wahlström, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, to convene a time-bound senior management group to prepare a system-wide Plan of Action on how to more strategically identify and act on core issues and gaps in disaster risk reduction. The Committee also requested UNISDR, under the leadership of the Special Representative, to lead the preparation of a checklist for the UN system to mainstream disaster risk reduction, building on existing inter-agency mechanisms and thematic platforms. It agreed to revert to this issue at its current session.

In her briefing to the Committee, Ms. Wahlström noted the growing and changing risk dimensions of disaster risk reduction and the need to position the UN system to lead on the issue, in particular in the context of the post-2015 development agenda. She updated members on the process for the preparation of the UN Plan of Action on Disaster Risk Reduction for Resilience and thanked them for their high level of engagement during this process.

Discussion

In the ensuing discussion, participants thanked Ms. Wahlström for her collaborative approach in guiding the work of the HLCP Senior Management Group. Participants noted that the commitments in the Plan of Action had captured risk assessment and risk management and addressed those affected most with a focus on resilience, which was helpful in framing the discussion on disaster risk reduction. Some participants noted that the Plan of Action needed to better articulate climate risks, engagement with non-resident agencies, the centrality of issues such as discrimination, the importance of the science and policy interface with disaster risk management and financing of disaster cooperation.

Members asked that the draft plan be amended to add an explicit reference to the centrality of discrimination (not limited to gender and age, which had already been included) in DRR analysis, and to human rights sensitivity in DRR planning, prevention, mitigation, response and redress.   The disproportionate impact of Hurricane Katrina (among others) was evidence that even where resources and technical and operational capacity are not in short supply, discrimination and the lack of a human rights-based approach can be the definitive factor in DRR failures.

In addition, references to gender equality and empowerment needed to be more vigorously reflected in the Plan. The strengthening of this dimension could benefit from a definition of vulnerability that could include links between inequality and discrimination and vulnerability to disasters. Some participants noted the need to focus on few targets in relation to the roll-out of the Plan and possible use of United Nations Country Teams in relation to accountability issues. Much rested on effective leadership support for the Plan of Action and roll-out, bearing in mind that there were costs to coordination.

Action

In recommending the Plan of Action for endorsement, Committee members requested UNISDR to circulate the amended draft within ten days, taking into account comments provided by participants.

On this basis, the Committee would recommend the UN Plan of Action on Disaster Risk Reduction for Resilience for endorsement by the CEB (Annex III). HLCP also took note of the progress made on the checklist for mainstreaming disaster risk reduction in the work of the UN system. UNISDR was requested to report back in 2015 on progress made on the Plan of Action, taking into account developments on the Hyogo Framework for Action 2 and the Post-2015 development framework. It was also agreed that the HLCP Senior Management Group on Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience would guide the process for the roll-out of the Plan of Action.