The Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction



Every two years, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, or UNISDR, convenes the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, which is the world’s leading convention on resilience building and the reduction of disaster risk across all communities and nations.

The 2017 Global Platform was recently held from 22 – 26 May in Cancun, Mexico. This was the fourth Global platform, and built off of the work of the 2015 platform, which established the ‘Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030’. This framework sets out the goals of the platform for the next 15 years, and includes four main outcomes, which should be achieved by 2030. They are:

  • Priority 1: Understanding disaster risk.
  • Priority 2: Strengthening disaster risk governance to manage disaster risk.
  • Priority 3: Investing in disaster risk reduction for resilience.
  • Priority 4: Enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response and to “Build Back Better” in recovery, rehabilitation, and reconstruction.

On the establishment of the Sendai Framework, then-current UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated that “The international community must “risk proof” development because disasters are taking a heavy toll on rich and poor countries as well as outpacing their ability to respond”.

The 2017 platform looked at several extreme weather events that have occurred over the past two years, and assessed the social and economic factors in each situation that directly affected communities and lives. These extreme weather events included Hurricane Matthew which hit Haiti last October, as well as flooding in Peru and landslides in Colombia. These natural disasters all took many lives and resulted in millions or even billions of dollars in damage and economic losses.

One positive outcome of the platform came from looking at the Colombian landslides. Flooding in the country affected over 500 districts, many of which were put on alert for landslides. These areas were generally hilly or mountainous, and had been heavily deforested, creating unstable soil which can and did lead to landslides. The platform recognised what they called the “protective value of eco-systems”. In the case of Colombia, if the hills had not been deforested, then the soil would have remained strong and the landslides could have been avoided. Consequently, the platform recommended legislation and regulations to limit deforestation to help prevent landslides in the future. Another positive aspect of limiting deforestation includes a greater amount of rainforests to absorb CO2, the main greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. Therefore these legislations and regulations have numerous positive outcomes.

As the 2017 platform has only recently concluded, outcomes are still being announced. To keep up to date with the latest outcomes of the 2017 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, have a look at the official United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction – 2017 Global Platform site, which can be found here.