Disaster Risk Reduction is a model of disaster management which emerged in the 1970s. Many of those who would become GNDR’s founding members were present at the UN 'World Conference for Disaster Reduction' in Kobe, Japan in January 2005; which established the present ten-year plan for action on Disaster Risk Reduction – the 'Hyogo Framework for Action'. They were representatives of civil society organisations, present to observe and to advocate on behalf of the communities around the world who are most at risk to the impact of disasters.
An underlying concern of these civil society representatives was that the high level policy statements of programmes such as this would not be translated into effective implementation and change at the frontline – where communities vulnerable to disasters live and work. In expressing this concern they had history on their side, as the review of the preceding ten-year programmes, the 'Yokohama Strategy for Natural Disasters' had concluded that intentions still needed to be turned into actions. It became clear that by working together they could increase their effectiveness in advocacy and campaigning. As a result, over the following two years discussions and meetings let to an agreement to form the Global Network of Civil Society Organisations for Disaster Reduction (GNDR) in 2007.
The network was initiated with the close support of the UN-International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UN-ISDR) Secretariat in collaboration with the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation, United Nations Development Programme. GNDR was officially launched in Geneva during the first session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in June 2007.
Throughout 2007 and 2008 the UN-ISDR supported the development of the network in various ways, including the publication of an annual compilation of “Good Practices and Lessons Learnt” by NGOs in DRR. Now, GNDR’s activities complement the UN-ISDR’s work programme.
GNDR is located in Teddington, London under the leadership of its Executive Director, Marcus Oxley and the newly appointed Global Board. Internal management procedures and core objectives have been agreed, seed funding secured and related work packages initiated, including the ground breaking “Views from the Frontline” project designed to establish a global architecture to independently measure progress towards implementation of disaster risk reduction at the local level. An independent GNDR website was launched in December 2008.
In line with its mandate, the UN-ISDR Secretariat continues to support the facilitation of GNDR and other civil society networks through the promotion of NGO partnerships within the inter-governmental system and the ongoing sharing of information and knowledge on DRR that is relevant to civil society organisations.