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More than 1,000 delegates gather in Geneva for talks on global disaster risk reduction agreement

ICSU took part in the second preparatory session for the Third World Disaster Risk Reduction Conference at the UN in Geneva from Nov 17-18. As the organizing partner of the Science and Technology Major Group, ICSU convened a delegation of more than 20 representatives from Europe, Latin America, Asia, Africa drawn from research organizations, ICSU’s IRDR programme and ICSU’s Regional Offices and partner organizations such as the IAP.

The aim of the two-day meeting was to negotiate the zero draft of the Post-2015 Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction that will be approved at the WCDRR in Sendai, Japan in March 2015. Progress was made – including via an overnight session where member states provided line by line comments on the zero draft – but will be continued in December 2014 and January 2015 before the framework can be finalized.

The Science and Technology Major Group made a series of inputs via statements in the technical workshops and co-chairs dialogue on issues ranging from the contribution that science can make in the implementation of the Framework, the links between the post-2015 agenda and DRR and the integration of DRR with financing.

While member states recognized the importance of science for disaster risk reduction, there was agreement that many countries struggle to connect science with decision-makers at the national and local levels.

The Science and Technology Major Group urged delegates to address this challenge by supporting a broad partnership between science and policymakers to implement evidence-based decision-making on disaster risk reduction.

Such a partnership would help to strengthen the provision of actionable research co-designed and co-produced with stakeholders, assess and synthesize scientific evidence that can support the work of policy-makers and practitioners, help develop methodologies, standards, metrics to monitor progress on DRR and resilience building.

Science also has a key role to play in improving our understanding of underlying risk factors. In a statement, the Science and Technology Major Group urged delegates to recognize that disasters are not caused by natural hazards but triggered by them.

“Risk is built into the development process, so corrective and prospective measures and actions are needed once we know the underlying factors,” said Virgina Jimenez Diaz, representing the ICSU Regional Office for Latin America.

Schuaib Lwasa, member of the IRDR Scientific Committee from Makerere University in Uganda, said that the Science and Technology Major Group was ready to implement the following voluntary commitments:

  • Build closer partnerships and better communication to enhance the use of scientific knowledge for evidence-based decision-making at all levels of government;
  • Engage to help strengthen capacity—building and to advance risk literacy through curricular reform, in professional training and by life-long learning across all sectors of society;
  • Offer analytical tools to assess and advance our knowledge of underlying risk drivers for more effective monitoring and review, across sectors of society);
  • Offer advisory capabilities across all fields of science, technology and innovation to address, jointly with communities, stakeholders and governments issues that are relevant to them;
  • Propose models for co-design of research that will involve all relevant actors (but which will also require new forms of funding and academic reward systems).

On integrating disaster risk reduction into the post-2015 development agenda, the Science and Technology Major Group noted that the zero draft of the Sustainable Development Goals included several universal targets that cover disaster risk. Goals 1, 2, 3, 11, 13 and sub-targets associated with means of implementation would benefit from disaster risk reduction science.

Details of the timeline for completing the zero draft are available online.

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