Countries met to review progress on implementation Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction – A 2015 landmark to reduce injuries, losses and deaths from natural and man-made hazards by the end of the decade.

During the meeting, they adopted a political declaration that, in part, calls for improving national mechanisms for sharing disaster risk data and analysis, including at regional and international levels.

Change course now

For General Assembly President Csaba Kőrösi, the mid-term review was “our last chance before 2030 to collectively change course”, underscoring the critical need for action.

“Eight years later, we have to admit that our development has not kept pace with the urgency of our day. The known number of people affected by disasters has increased 80 times since 2015, he says said.

A crucial point

Managing risk is not an option but a global commitment, the UN Deputy Secretary-General said at the meeting.

“Our world is at a pivotal point in history. As we review our journey halfway to 2030, we must admit that progress has been weak and insufficient“, Ms. Mohammed said.

Because countries did not meet climate and sustainable development commitments, natural disasters that could have been prevented have claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and forced millions to be uprooted, mainly women, children and other vulnerable groups, she said.

The situation has been worsened by COVID 19 pandemic, the ‘triple crisis’ of climate change, loss of biodiversity and pollution, the rising cost of living, soaring inequalities and the war in Ukraine.

Additional threats stem from structural governance omissions in the banking and global financial systems, while researchers warn of cascading and irreversible effects of global default.

“Addressing these challenges involves change our response to risk through systems thinking, collaborative action and the smart, agile implementation of responses to prevent, manage and mitigate global risks,” she said.

Uneven progress

The head of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (WONDER), Mami Mizutori, noted that it has not been all storm and strife since 2015.

For example, a growing number of governments have established or upgraded national loss accounting systems, and there has been a significant increase in the number of countries with national disaster risk reduction strategies.

However, progress is still uneven. In addition, risks that become disasters continue to disproportionately affect the world’s least developed countries, small island developing states, landlocked and African countries, and middle-income countries.

“As risks are left unattended, disasters materialize fasterthat are outstripping our ability to cope, with increasingly dire consequences for people, livelihoods, society and the ecosystems on which we depend,” she said.

“The need to realize the outcome, goal and objectives of the Sendai Framework is more important today than ever before.”

A survivor’s story

This point was further emphasized by Mustafa Kemal Kılınç from Türkiye, who survived the devastating earthquake in February that killed upwards of 50,000 people.

The 23-year-old university student was visiting his family in his hometown of Hatay when the disaster struck, which reduced thousands of buildings to rubble and left countless people homeless.

“I am here today because our building did not collapse. This is because our contractor had applied high standards to make our building earthquake resistant,” he said.

Mustafa and his family – seven people in total – lived in their car for a week, amid sub-zero temperatures and heavy rain, before moving to a train carriage. They eventually settled with relatives across the country and returned to Hatay several weeks later.

“We cannot predict natural disasters. But we can certainly be prepared whenever and wherever they happen, he said. “I hope that as a result of your work, there will be fewer disaster victims like me around the world.”