“Local communities, especially in fragile areas will get a central role in disaster risk reduction. Governance and programs will be formulated from their perspective. The role of organizations such as Cordaid is also recognized and established.” However, Jeroen Alberts reaction to the Sendai Framework is not merely positive. The Post-2015 framework for Disaster Risk Reduction was adopted this week at the UN WCDRR in Sendai, Japan. As part of a Dutch delegation, headed by Minister Ploumen of Trade and Development Cooperation of The Netherlands, Alberts attended Sendai on behalf of Cordaid. From the 14th until the 18th of March, the conference brought together governments and NGO delegates from around the world to chart the future management of disaster risks.
Putting communities at the core of disaster risk reduction is one of Cordaid’s most important messages. Alberts: “Communities know best what risks they face, and are inevitably the first to respond when disaster strikes, especially in the least developed countries”. Cordaid does not only work with communities on disaster preparedness, but also on more inclusive early warning systems, climate change adaptation and ecosystem management, and resilient livelihoods – that is, on sustainable economic and social development.
Although he is pleased with some aspects, Alberts also criticizes the new Framework: “the agreement recognizes that the resilience of communities is an essential part towards reaching sustainable growth and development. We all know that investments are necessary to accomplish this, yet Western nations in particular do not want to commit to financial agreements. The current text shows signs of weakness. Moreover, a number of essential parts of the agreement have been left out or have not been sufficiently established in this document. The goals of this agreement are not clearly defined and will ensue plenty of discussion.”
Recipe for Resilience
Cordaid was present at the conference as part of the Partners for Resilience, an alliance of Dutch organizations, which further consists of Netherlands Red Cross, Red Cross Climate Centre, CARE Netherlands and Wetlands International. In the past four years, the Partners of Resilience have been working on 45 disaster risk reduction projects in 9 countries, helping more than half a million people cope with disaster risks. The organizations will continue working together in partnership with the Dutch government in the years to come.
In a ‘Recipe for Resilience’, a statement that the Partners for Resilience presented at the WCDRR, governments are called upon to recognize the different capacities, needs and vulnerabilities of community groups, and enable their full participation in disaster risk management. This is important and the Partners stressed this in the statement, because even though the core of responsibility for disaster management lies with governments, communities know best what risks they face, and are inevitably the first to respond when disaster strikes, especially in least developed countries.
“I’m very pleased with our collaboration with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They are always willing to listen to commentary or to provide textual suggestions. We will work with the ministry to elaborate upon the strategic partnership of the Partners for Resilience,” Alberts says.
In a speech at Sendai, Minister Ploumen underlined the messages of Cordaid and the other Partners for Resilience: “governance, transparency and accountability are cornerstones of a good disaster risk reduction policy. We underline the importance of multi-stakeholder partnerships that include the private sector and local communities.”
Minister Ploumen’s speech in Sendai:
The discussion will be continued at the UN summit in Addis Abeba and the UN convention on climate change in Paris. “In the meantime, we will continue to put all of our efforts towards reaching our goals”, Alberts says.
We put them at the core of our work, helping them to become more resilient to disasters on various levels
Along with Jeroen Alberts, Cordaid’s Mohamed Dida, Munish Kaushik and Anat Prag attended Sendai. They have ample experience in working closely with local communities in fragile, disaster-prone areas. “We put them at the core of our work, helping them to become more resilient to disasters on various levels” says Alberts. “Our integrated and multilateral approach reaches from making sure that households have a stable income to openness of data. Meteorological data, for example, to warn people about weather changes, should be available to everyone”.
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