In January 2005, 168 Governments adopted a 10-year plan to make the world safer from natural hazards at the World Conference on Disaster Reduction, held in Kobe, Hyogo, Japan. The Hyogo Framework is a global blueprint for disaster risk reduction efforts during the next decade. Its goal is to substantially reduce disaster losses by 2015 - in lives, and in the social, economic, and environmental assets of communities and countries. The Framework offers guiding principles, priorities for action, and practical means for achieving disaster resilience for vulnerable communities.
1. Ensure that disaster risk reduction is a national and a local priority with a strong institutional basis fo implementation.
Strong national and local commitment is required to save lives and livelihoods threatened by natural hazards. Natural hazards must be taken into account in public and private sector decision-making in the same way that environmental and social impact assessments are currently required. Countries must therefore develop or modify policies, laws, and organizational arrangements, as well as plans, programmes, and projects, to integrate disaster risk reduction. They must also allocate sufficient resources to support and maintain
them. This includes: Creating effective, multi-sector national platforms to provide policy guidance and to coordinate activities; Integrating disaster risk reduction into development policies and planning, such as Poverty Reduction Strategies; and, Ensuring community participation, so that local needs are met.
2. Identify, assess, and monitor disaster risks - and enhance early warning.
To reduce their vulnerability to natural hazards, countries and communities must know the risks that they face, and take actions based on that knowledge. Understanding risk requires investment in scientific, technical, and institutional capabilities to observe, record, research, analyse, forecast, model and map natural hazards. Tools need to be developed and disseminated: statistical information about disaster events, risk maps, disaster vulnerability and risk indicators are essential. Most importantly, countries need to use this knowledge to develop effective early warning systems, appropriately adapted to the unique circumstances of the people at risk. Early warning is widely accepted as a crucial component of disaster risk reduction. When effective early warning systems provide information about a hazard to a vulnerable population, and plans are in place to take action, thousands of lives can be saved.
3. Use knowledge, innovation, and education to build a culture of safety and resilience at all levels.
Disasters can be reduced substantially if people are well informed about measures they can take to reduce vulnerability - and if they are motivated to act. Key activities to increase awareness of disaster prevention include: Providing relevant information on disaster risks and
means of protection, especially for citizens in high-risk areas; Strengthening networks and promoting dialogue and cooperation among disaster experts, technical and scientific specialists, planners and other stakeholders; Including disaster risk reduction subject matter in formal, non-formal, and informal education and training activities; Developing or strengthening community-based disaster
risk management programmes; and, Working with the media in disaster risk reduction awareness activities.
4. Reduce the underlying risk factors.
Vulnerability to natural hazards is increased in many ways, for example: Locating communities in hazard-prone areas, such as
flood plains; Destroying forests and wetlands, thereby harming the capacity of the environment to withstand hazards; Building public facilities and housing unable to withstand the impacts of hazards; and, Not having social and financial safety mechanisms in place.
Countries can build resilience to disasters by investing in simple, well-known measures to reduce risk and vulnerability. Disasters can be reduced by applying relevant building standards to protect critical infrastructure, such as schools, hospitals and homes. Vulnerable buildings can be retrofitted to a higher degree of safety. Protecting precious ecosystems, such as coral reefs and mangrove forests,
allow them to act as natural storm barriers. Effective insurance and micro-finance initiatives can help to transfer risks and provide additional resources.
5. Strengthen disaster preparedness for effective response at all levels.
Being prepared, including conducting risk assessments, before investing in development at all levels of society will enable people to become more resilient to natural hazards. Preparedness involves many types of activities, including: The development and regular testing of contingency plans; The establishment of emergency funds to support preparedness, response and recovery activities;
The development of coordinated regional approaches for effective disaster response; and, Continuous dialogue between respons agencies, planners and policy-makers, and development organizations. Regular disaster preparedness exercises, including evacuation drills, also are key to ensuring rapid and effective disaster response. Effective preparedness plans and organization also help to cope with the many small and medium-sized disasters that repeatedly occur in so many communities. Natural hazards cannot be prevented, but it is possible to reduce their impacts by reducing the vulnerability of people and their livelihoods.
Who is responsible for implementing disaster riskreduction and the Hyogo Framework?
Collaboration and cooperation are crucial to disaster risk reduction: states, regional organizations and institutions, and international organizations all have a role to play. Civil society, including volunteers and community-based organizations, the scientific community,the media, and the private sector, are all vital stakeholders. Following is an indication ofthe variety and diversity of actors and their core responsibilities.
States are responsible for:
Developing national coordination mechanisms; Conducting baseline assessments on the status of disaster risk reduction; Publishing and updating summaries of national programmes; Reviewing national progress towards achieving the objectives and priorities of the Hyogo
International organizations are responsible for:
Working to implement relevant international legal instruments; and Integrating disaster risk reduction with climate change strategies. Promoting regional programmes for disaster risk reduction; Undertaking and publishing regional and sub-regional baseline assessments;
Coordinating reviews on progress toward implementing the Hyogo Framework in the region;
Regional organizations are responsible for:
Establishing regional collaborative centres; and Supporting the development of regional early warning mechanisms.
Encouraging the integration of disaster risk reduction into humanitarian and sustainable development programmes and frameworks;
Strengthening the capacity of the United Nations system to assist disaster-prone developing countries with disaster risk reduction initiatives; Supporting data collection and forecasting, information exchange, and early warning systems;
The ISDR system is responsible for:
Supporting States' own efforts with coordinated international assistance; and, Strengthening disaster management training and capacity building. Developing a matrix of roles and initiatives related to the Hyogo Framework; Facilitating the coordination of actions at the international and regional levels; Developing indicators of progress to assist States in tracking their progress towards implementation of the Hyogo Framework; Supporting national platforms and coordination mechanisms; Stimulating the exchange of best practices and lessons learned; and, Preparing reviews on progress toward achieving the Hyogo Framework objectives.