English

Words falling off the framework text

Oenone Chadburn, GNDRTrustee Oenone Chadburn, GNDRTrustee
Oenone Chadburn writes from the negotiation room on how, for a non-binding agreement, the negotiations on wording seem to be tying themselves in knots. And it is not just merely semantics. Faith Based Organisations, Climate Change, International Co-operation are terms that have dissapeared altogether from the draft or still under negotiation. She is at Sendai today to ensure continued international commitment to a culture of safety, and yet she is worried that it seems we are starting all over.

[by Oenone Chadburn | 3rd WCDRR Sendai | 15 March 2015 | Day 2]

When I agreed to write a blog on Sunday by 8pm, I didn't bargain on it being written from the international negotiation room at 8.25pm. Aspirations of an agreed framework before we all arrived at WCDRR were lost weeks ago, but my hopes of a swift set of negotiations seem to be misplaced.

Some of my earliest childhood memories are of living through Japanese earthquake tremors. I lived here due to my fathers work, and I still recall earthquake drills in school and being taught to get under the desk. Without giving away my age, that was 40 years ago. Japan's enlightened approach of disaster risk reduction (as we now know it) has helped lead the way for other nations. Now I find myself here today to ensure continued international commitment to a culture of safety, and yet sometimes it seems we are starting all over. For a non-binding agreement, the negotiations seem to be tying themselves in knots.

But while negotiations have been the heart of my day, fortunately, the WCDRR is more than this. Today, I have met with other European and North American peers to discuss where we can improve our collaboration to serve a post-2015 framework, including how we can be brokers of other networks, sharing innovation and facilitating learning. I was also encouraged to see my Tearfund colleagues, new to international conferences, speak directly to their delegations - not always for the purpose of lobbying, but also to build relationships and greater collaboration. Finally, I was pleasantly surprised to see a small side event about Faith Based Organisations overflowing from its room, long confirming my view that the role of faith institutions in supporting the implementation of CBDRM is vital and we need more research and evidence on the topic.

Faith Based Organisations is one of those terms that has been dropped from the text of a post 2015 framework. I'm not sure why, or when. Its just one example of multiple words that have fallen victim to the bartering between nations. To onlookers, they seem like semantics. But the earnest expressions of various ambassadors and civil servants say it's no laughing matter. It's also no laughing matter that the targets are still being negotiated, mostly polarized along G8/G77 lines, one side desperately seeking to integrate climate change holistically (and most sensibly) into the document, others marking out clear lines of distinction between HFA2, COP talks, and the forthcoming SDGs negotiations.

Of course, its a false divide. For those at the frontline, the reality check is that they make none of these separations, they just see their livelihoods being slowly ebbed away following every "small" disaster that hits them. But we all know why this is. Every speaker at the front of the opening ceremony -from the Prime Minister of Japan to Ban Ki Moon- clearly stated the international significance of this agreement. What is agreed here sets the tone and precedence for the future of international frameworks for the next 12 months, and perhaps it is not surprising it has become so politicised. "International Co-operation" have almost become dirty words, but when we write a plan, we need to know how it's going to be resourced. My lack of sleep tonight seems a minor trade off to ensure that we maintain integrity in this agreement. And I hope it doesn't take us 40 years to get there.

Oenone Chadburn is the Head of Humanitarian Support International Group at Tearfund, UK.

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