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Mar 1, 2023

Mid-term Review on Sendai Framework Highlights Communication Challenges

The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 is the single-most important global agreement for the preservation of life and investments in the event of a disaster. But, this is probably the first time you have ever heard any mention of it. And, if you are among the few globally who have an understanding of the framework, you will know that it is littered with jargons and terminologies that are not common to the layman. Unfortunately, it is well documented that impoverished communities, with substandard building codes, and little knowledge of their vulnerabilities stand to lose the most when disaster strikes. But, as it stands, a wide gap exists between the solutions that the Sendai Framework provides for these communities and an appreciation for those tools and mechanisms at the local level. News Five’s Paul Lopez reports from Punta del Este, Uruguay.


Paul Lopez, Reporting

The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, or the Sendai Framework, what is it? You have probably never heard of this agreement or its importance to your country and local community. To get a better understanding, we did random interviews with a few experts on the topic.


Mauricio Saldivar

Mauricio Saldivar, DRR Specialist, Argentina

“The Sendai Framework is a sort of rules, tools, guidance to make communities more resilient. It is the first step to get or to get into resilient process with the final goal is to make more sustainable communities.”


Paul Lopez

“Do you think that the communities, the people that are most affected has a good understanding of what the Sendai Framework is?”


Mauricio Saldivar

“No, I am sure that most of our viewers did not know what the Sendai Framework is.”


Allan Lavell

Allan Lavell, Researcher, Costa Rica

“The Sendai Framework is the last of a series of Framework and it is important to know that because it represents the most advanced conception of what we would like to see disaster risk reduction was or is and how to achieve it. I think it is highly likely that most people don’t even know the Sendai Framework exist. It is highly likely that most disaster risk reduction is done by people who don’t even know that there is a United Nation organization on top of it.”


Alonso Torres

Alonso Torres, International Consultant

“The Sendai Framework is an agreement among nations and other actors. It is the highest agreement within the UN system that address the challenge of disaster risk reduction globally.”


Paul Lopez

“How well do you think the communities that are most affected, the vulnerable, the people on the ground that are most affected understand this document and their roles and responsibilities?”


Alonso Torres

“Not that well I am afraid. Not that well as we would like to, the community that is behind the Sendai Framework.”


The Sendai Framework lists four priority areas, understanding disaster risk, strengthening, disaster risk governance, investing in disaster risk reduction, and enhancing disaster preparedness. But, the International Science Council has cited a major problem with the implementation of the framework, communication. In its mid-term review on the implementation of the framework, the council noted that communicating risk is one of the major challenges being faced ahead of 2030.


Roger Pulwarty

Roger Pulwarty, Climate Scientist, UNDRR

“The last recommendation we have that Alonso spoke to is to develop partners in the communities who bring the voice of the communities with them. This involves media, but it is not just communication. It is communication and capability, the ability to act on the information. So simply as Alonso was saying those partnerships are not just let’s have a workshop together. It is important because it is based on trust. Now we have many kinds of trust. You usually hear, yeah you got to trust somebody. But then, we ask, what is trust? Is the information, valuable and grounded in science? Am I engaged in making that decision? But there is an even more important part of trust which is why should you believe that I have your interest at heart? The arrogance we are saying, do not walk in and think just because I did the study someone should trust you. We don’t know the answers, neither the community. What we want is to create a space to discuss what the right thing to do is, otherwise we will do the wrong thing with better data.”


Mami Mizutori, the Special Representative for the United Nations Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, agrees that the success of the framework’s implementation is hinged on how well its message is communicated to the most vulnerable. She says the lives of the most vulnerable depend on it.


Mami Mizutori

Mami Mizutori, UN Special Representative, DRR

“Risk communication, as you say, if it doesn’t reach the most vulnerable people in the most remote areas who have not even speak the common language of the country then we are not being successful. This is especially important in early warning or early action, if the warnings are not reaching the people in a way they understand then early warning does not work. Even before going into the system, for many people when they are told you are surrounded with risk, they really don’t grasp it, because there is a tendency in human being to think that risk is something far away, geographically as in far away or in time lines. It is not going to happen today or tomorrow. That is how we want to think. That is how we think. Also, if it is not associated with that person, the way he or she lives, they don’t really think about it. So, we need to be able to translate our messages, our policies, into language that id accessible to these people. If we don’t get this right, we can’t implement the Sendai Framework, because the number of people who die will not go down, the number of people who are affected won’t go down, because economic loss won’t go down. And these are specifically the indicators that will measure the success of the implementation of the Sendai Framework.”


And so it stands, that one of the major challenges for UN member countries within the next seven years will be to break down its messaging on disaster risk reduction in such a way that the most vulnerable can understand why the implementation of the Sendai Framework, at all levels, can actually help to save lives and reduce losses. Reporting for News Five, I am Paul Lopez.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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