Thousands Convene in Japan with United Nations on Disaster Risk Reduction

April 8, 2015

It is pretty amazing how many people are involved in disaster risk reduction around the world. This thought crossed my mind more than once as I joined at least 10,000 people at the UN conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan.  The conference boasted an impressive mix of business, government, and civil society participants from around the world – all focused on making our communities safer.  

The major goal of the conference, hosted by UNISDR, was to adopt the new Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, which is the successor of the 2005 Hyogo Framework.  As a brief summary of the new framework, the seven global targets are:

  1. Substantially reduce global disaster mortality by 2030, aiming to lower average per 100,000 global mortality between 2020-2030 compared to 2005-2015.
  2. Substantially reduce the number of affected people globally by 2030, aiming to lower the average global figure per 100,000 between 2020-2030 compared to 2005-2015.
  3. Reduce direct disaster economic loss in relation to global gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030.
  4. Substantially reduce disaster damage to critical infrastructure and disruption of basic services, among them health and educational facilities, including through developing their resilience by 2030.
  5. Substantially increase the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020.
  6. Substantially enhance international cooperation to developing countries through adequate and sustainable support to complement their national actions for implementation of this framework by 2030.  
  7. Substantially increase the availability of and access to multi-hazard early warning systems and disaster risk information and assessments to the people by 2030.

One of my main goals for attending the conference was to talk about small business disaster preparedness on a world stage. Saglam Kobi, is a small business disaster preparedness project in Turkey that we are working on along with the UPS Foundation, the World Economic Forum, the DRB Toolkit, and CSR Turkey. Saglam Kobi provides tips, self-assessments, and robust trainings for small businesses to be better prepared. We presented this project as a best practice at the conference IGNITE Stage, with a TED style talk about the importance of small business resilience.  To view the presentation, go here. Given that small businesses all over the world are unprepared for disasters, we hope that projects like Saglam Kobi can serve as a model for other leaders to address small business preparedness in their countries.

Another point of interest for the business community is the UNISDR private sector working group.  I participated in private sector working group meetings at the conference and learned of the work they are doing connecting businesses to UN risk reduction initiatives.  You can learn more about that group here. The UPS Foundation is a member of that working group, and they are also working across various parts of the UN to make the world better and safer.  For example, they just announced the launch of the UPS Relief Link program that uses a hand-held scanning tool and durable identification cards to deliver superior efficiency in refugee camps by eliminating paper records.  This is a great example of how a business like UPS is using their core competencies to improve the lives of refugees around the world.  More information is here.

A final interesting item that I learned about at the conference is the Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction 2015.  This robust report provides interesting statistics and predictions on the economic consequences of disasters. This report certainly provides a business case for working to reduce the impacts of disasters. You can find a full report and a pocket guide here.

Their conference provided an excellent opportunity for engaging with many people around the world on the topic of disaster risk reduction.  If you would like any more information about anything listed above, please let me know.