International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction – October 13

The International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction is observed worldwide on 13th October every year. The day celebrates the need to raise awareness about the importance of examining the risks faced by people and reducing their exposure to disasters. UNESCO helps countries build their abilities in managing disasters and climate risks and is engaged with the idea of redirecting from post-disaster reaction and towards pre-disaster action. A majority of natural and man-made disasters can be managed with proper planning and safety measures. The day is an opportunity to acknowledge the progress made in reducing disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods and health. The aim of the 2021 International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction is the need for international cooperation for developing countries to reduce their disaster risk and disaster losses.

Why is Disaster Risk Reduction Important?

Natural disasters are mainly caused by a combination of various natural hazards that have atmospheric, geologic and hydrologic origins on solar, global, regional, national or local scales.

These hazards along with insufficient measures to reduce the consequences of disasters will cause widespread destruction. Disaster risk reduction is the concept and practice that reduces disaster risks through systematic efforts to analyse and reduce the major factors that cause disasters. UNESCO, along with other UN agencies like UNDRR, play a major role in raising awareness, prevention and helping societies to be prepared for potential disasters. UNDRR helps governments, partners and communities to collaborate to reduce disaster risk and losses and also to ensure a safe and sustainable future.

Background of International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction

The International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction was first observed in 1989 after the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) decided to promote a global culture of disaster reduction and awareness. At the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in 2015 held in Sendai, Japan, the international community was reminded that disasters hit hardest at the local level which leads to loss of life and social and economic disruption. So, local level plans and strategies are required to reduce the destruction of disasters. Sudden disasters lead to the displacement of millions of people every year. Disasters that are caused due to climate change will not bring out the desired results of sustainable development plans.

Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030

The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction is a concise and action-oriented framework introduced for the post-disaster reduction in 2015. Between 2005 and 2015, over 700 thousand people have lost their lives, 1.4 million have been injured and approximately 23 million have become homeless due to disasters. The total economic loss due to disasters was more than $1.3 trillion. In addition, between 2008 and 2012, 144 million people were displaced due to disasters. So the plan is to reduce risks of disaster to effectively protect the livelihoods of people, communities and countries. The framework also focuses on handling underlying disaster risk drivers like poverty, climate change, unplanned and rapid urbanization, poor land management and factors such as demographic change, weak institutional arrangements, lack of regulation etc.

The core idea is to have a people-centric approach while undertaking preventive measures for disaster management. Governments should include representatives from different classes, genders, age groups and races while making and implementing policies and standards for disaster risks. The private and public sectors along with educational and research institutions should work together and collaborate when necessary.

The Sendai framework contains seven global targets which measure the progress made in disaster management. Each year has one target from 2016 to 2022. The targets include substantially reducing disaster mortality, reducing the number of people affected globally, reducing the economic and GDP loss due to disasters, reducing the damage to infrastructure and disruption of immediate services like health, education by 2030. The target for 2020 was to increase the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020. The last two targets include enhancing international cooperation for developing countries through adequate support and increasing the availability and access to multi-hazard early warning systems and disaster risk information and assessments to people by 2030.

2021 International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction

In 2021, the International Day for Disaster Reduction focuses on how international cooperation can reduce disaster risk and disaster losses for developing countries. It highlights best practices of international cooperation that have a positive impact on the lives of people who live in areas prone to disasters. International cooperation through Official Development Aid (ODA) and capacity building are essential to improve disaster resilience during extreme weather and other natural and man-made threats. The theme of 2021 conveys that many disasters can be avoided or prevented if there are proper disaster risk reduction strategies to manage and reduce existing risks and to avoid the creation of new risks.