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Must pay due attention to financing disaster risk mitigation & disaster preparedness: India at UNGA side event

United Nations, May 19: India has underscored the need to pay adequate attention to financing disaster risk mitigation and disaster preparedness, emphasising that states must evolve a financial architecture that can address the entire spectrum of disaster risk reduction needs in a balanced way.
Addressing the India-Japan side event at the High-Level Meeting (HLM) of the General Assembly on the Midterm Review of the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR) 2015-2030 on Thursday, Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Dr P K Mishra, stressed that “In the 21st century, the States face complex challenges in disaster risk reduction.” Mishra is leading the Indian delegation at the SFDRR-Midterm Review meeting taking place from May 18-19 at the United Nations Headquarters.
The side event on ‘The Roles of States for Promoting Investments in Disaster Risk Reduction Towards Resilient and Sustainable Future’ was organised by India’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
It outlined the primary role of States in promoting investments in disaster risk reduction as a fundamental requirement for achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and for minimising the damages and impacts associated with climate change and thereby building a resilient society.
It called for each State’s responsibility to reduce existing risks and prevent future threats towards building a resilient and sustainable society.
Mishra noted that although Sendai Framework, and its predecessor, Hyogo Framework, highlighted the importance of an all-of-society approach to disaster risk reduction, it was clear that States bear the primary responsibility to stop the creation of new disaster risks as well as reduce existing disaster risks.
Highlighting challenges faced by nations, he said there is recognition that States must evolve a financial architecture that can address the entire spectrum of disaster risk reduction needs in a balanced way.
“For far too long, we have focused almost entirely on financing disaster response, recovery and reconstruction. We must pay adequate attention to financing disaster risk mitigation and disaster preparedness. This is not only a matter of making a larger quantum of resources available,” he said.
He noted that states also have to contend with complex issues, such as working out the mechanism to increase the absorptive capacity, effectively utilising resources allocated for disaster risk mitigation and what kinds of institutional mechanisms, technical capacities and expertise are needed to develop for it.
“How do we balance risk mitigation financing for extensive risks (i.e. high frequency, moderate impact events) and intensive risks (i.e., low frequency, high impact events)? How do we target our assistance to the most vulnerable? How do we strike a balance between mainstreaming disaster risk reduction funding in development projects and ring-fencing separate resources for disaster risk mitigation that can have a catalytic impact on larger development processes?” Mishra asked.
Asserting that these are complex challenges, Mishra said that countries with a long history of disaster risk mitigation financing also grapple with these.
“We need to collaborate and learn from each other in addressing these,” he said.
Mishra noted that both G7 and G20 accorded priority to disaster risk reduction, indicating that the issue is now getting attention at the highest level in the global policy discourse.
The G20 Working Group will meet for the second time next week and devote one full day to discussing issues of financing.
The G20, under India’s Presidency 2023 under the Sherpa Track, has taken an important step in establishing a Working Group on Disaster Risk Reduction to help accelerate member countries’ efforts in achieving the goals of the SFDRR and the SDGs.
In line with the SFDRR, the G20 Working Group on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRRWG) proposed five priorities: Global coverage of early warning systems for all hydro-meteorological disasters; Increased commitment towards making infrastructure systems disaster and climate resilient; Stronger national financial frameworks for disaster risk reduction; Strengthened national and global disaster response systems including “Build Back Better”; and Increased application of ecosystem-based approaches.
In March and April, the first Working Group meeting on DRR, held in Gandhinagar, India, intensively discussed these five priorities.
Immediately following the SFDRR-Midterm Review meeting in New York, the G20 Working Group will meet again in Mumbai to chart future directions.
Speaking about the role of States in strengthening early warning systems, Mishra pointed out that the notion of public-private partnership has been discussed for a long time in this context.
He said that many private sector players have come into play and noted the likelihood of the field getting more crowded as more sector-specific early warning services are developed.
“In such a context, what is the absolutely non-negotiable role of the State? Can we outsource the observational network to private players? To what extent should the State get involved in developing and deploying communication technologies? Should the State mandate private players to compulsorily provide essential early warning services in times of disasters?” Mishra said.
Noting that there were no easy answers to some of the challenges he identified in the area, Mishra underscored that the international community must deal with these challenges “if we want to bring about a transformational change in the way disaster risk reduction is pursued.” “It will also help the State become more effective in our climate change adaptation efforts,” he said. (PTI)

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