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Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction: Is it just a buzz word or we should adopt it too?

Updated: Feb 6, 2019

The City of Vancouver says it needs to spend $1 billion this century so it can brace for potential flooding along its coastline in the event of rising sea levels and storm surges.
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I am blogging to create a conversation about disaster risk reduction here in Canada at all levels and grow together from our discussion. I will write about my work, thoughts, challenges, and ideas related to the Sendai Framework, disaster risk assessment and connection to users, understanding risk systems, DRR strategies, and many other things here and there!

This is the first blog. Many municipalities and provinces across Canada are in the process or have recently adopted the Sendai Framework for DRR. But what does that mean? Lets start with unpacking Sendai.

What is the Sendai Framework for DRR? 

Sendai Framework, as the name suggests, provides a comprehensive and ambitious framework for reducing disaster risk and building resilience. It was designed based on the lessons learned from decades of DRR practice across the world. Many of the items are coming from experiences in advanced countries which have been trying to tackle DRR and resilience in a more systematic way while documenting the lessons along the way. 

Sendai Framework brings the shift from Emergency Management to Risk Management. This means ensuring no new risk is created because of new developments (sustainable development), investing in reducing existing risks (risk reduction), and building resilience to manage the residual risk (emergency management, recovery and build back better).

It calls for a whole-of-society approach to tackle all hazards, all vulnerabilities in all sectors. This means all stakeholders participate in understanding the baseline risk and drivers of risk, defining the solutions, and acting to implement the solutions. 

The Sendai Framework calls for coherence and connection between Climate Change Adaptation and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and DRR for effective planning and efficient use of resources at every stage. 

Why should a municipality or a province adopt the Sendai Framework?

It has global recognition - It is a globally recognized framework and Canada was among the 187 countries that adopted the Sendai in 2015. 

It provides excellent guidance- Sendai defines what is a comprehensive and inclusive disaster risk reduction (DRR). Trying to define what good DRR means without using what Sendai Framework is offering, is re-inventing the wheel

It provides the common ground- Using a common framework at municipal, provincial, and federal level facilitates communication, connection, and exchange of knowledge, information, and data. This is especially relevant to monitoring and reporting progress in risk reduction. Canada needs to report on the Sendai implementation and disaster risk reduction progress at national level according to the Sendai monitoring indicators. This comprehensive set of indicators require a significant amount of data that should come from the local level. 

What does "adopting the Sendai Framework" mean?

It means a lot of things, but most importantly it means committing to take disaster risk reduction seriously. Very seriously!

It starts with adopting the Sendai goal which is to “prevent new and reduce existing disaster risk through the implementation of integrated and inclusive economic, structural, legal, social, health, cultural, educational, environmental, technological, political and institutional measures that prevent and reduce hazard exposure and vulnerability to disaster, increase preparedness for response and recovery, and thus strengthen resilience”. This means committing to doing DRR in a comprehensive manner. 

It also means committing to include the whole of society in the journey to understand the disaster risk and take action to reduce it. 

And it means using the content and components of the Sendai Framework to design the pathway forward for reducing risk in a province, region, city, or community by:

In the future blogs, I will be unpacking different components of the Sendai Framework and hopefully with you, discuss and define what it means for Canada, provinces, and municipalities to adopt the Sendai and take steps towards building more resilient Canada.

Tell me what is your favorite feature/s of the Sendai Framework? Why should our municipalities and provinces adopt the Sendai?

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