Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction
Rorie Edmunds (Programme Officer) represented WDS at the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (14–18 March; Sendai, Japan) as part of the ICSU delegation. ICSU—who co-sponsor the Integrated Research on Disaster Risk programme (IRDR)—acted as the organizing partner of the Science and Technology Major Group, which was one of nine UN Major Groups aimed at representing key sectors of society, and took an active role in promoting a strong science base for the 2015–2030 Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR).
Science (and the data that underpin it) features prominently in the document, which was under negotiation at the Conference, and the Group was tasked with advocating to the assembled National Delegates that the references to science and scientific data remained in the Post-2015 Framework. The Group’s working session on ‘Applying Science and Technology to DRR’ drew more than 350 attendants, and the session Chair noted not only that the (then draft) Framework recognizes the critical role of science, information, and technology but also that scientists have become much more engaged in policymaking over the last 20 years.
During the session, Gordon McBean (ICSU President) announced the voluntary commitment of the Science and Technology community to develop an international partnership with the UNISDR Science and Technical Advisory Group to mobilize science for action on DRR and resilience building. The partnership will focus on assessment, synthesis, science advice, and monitoring and review, with strengthened cross-cutting capacities in communication, engagement, and capacity building by mobilizing relevant institutions and initiatives.
The official statement of the Science & Technology Major Group—delivered on behalf of the community by David Johnston (IRDR Chair) on Monday, 15 March—acknowledged the strong call in the Framework for science and the availability of scientific data to support the understanding of disaster risk and to promote risk-informed decisions and risk-sensitive planning from the local to the global levels. The statement also emphasized the need to break down the isolation of scientific knowledge, and actively assist governments and others in the uptake and use of this knowledge by fostering partnerships across existing institutions and networks to scale up the application of science to decision-making at all levels.