[by Peter Akanimoh | 3rd WCDRR Sendai | 16 March 2015 | Day 3]
I wanted to write a blog sometime on Tuesday reflecting on my experience for that day here in Sendai as the World Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction rolls out. Its only Sunday night and I am already feeling overwhelmed by the intensity of burning issues pouring out from the major groups briefing sessions, the side events I have attended so far and the intergovernmental negotiations for a new DRR deal in the Tachibana Hall, where governments are locking horns to negotiate a new deal for global reduction of disaster risks. Will our Tachibana deal build back HFA better? Will we end up with a stronger or weaker international framework for disaster reduction? Well, I thought I better pour out some of the internal pressure from thinking about this now, before I implode!
So, so much happening in one day, today; first, it was the major group 8am briefing session with Glen of UNISDR. I find these briefings very helpful for strategically navigating through the complexity of the side events, which seem to be happening everywhere at all times. Highlight of the briefing is a proposed meeting later in the evening with the Chair and Co-chair of the intergovernmental negotiators!
Next was a side event by ActionAid Bangladesh. They had a very interesting gender inclusive DRR conversation with a highlight on women-led initiatives for reducing disaster risks. The centrality of women's role came out very strongly and I remember asking Farah Kabir, of ActionAid if they have a "copy right" on the implementation of their Bangladesh Women-led Emergency Response initiative! I think we need to adapt and replicate this in West Africa.
Next was the working session on DRM for healthy Society where panelists from Sudan, New Zealand, Iran and one other country shared practices and learning mostly around Safe Hospital Frameworks as pathways for healthy societies. Just to mention quickly that yesterday I attended yet another working session on Safe Schools and am wondering why "safe schools' and "safe hospitals" and not "safe communities"? If we had safe communities wouldn't hospitals and schools be safe? Again my mind goes back to "communities" as the frontlines for safe societies.
I spent the rest of the day in and around the Tachibana Hall, connecting with and lobbying African negotiators engaged in the intergovernmental negotiations for a new international DRR deal; I met with Kenya and then with Egypt and also with our Nigerian Ambassador to Japan in company of one of our senior counselors at the Nigerian embassy. (I seem to be meeting some VIPs from Nigeria so easily here. Yesterday, I met our Minister of Education and we had a great chat and a deal o "see you again" when we get back home. Today I met again the Minister of Environment.) These meetings created access to continue to influence the negotiation process, at least from the African end.
The Chair and Co-chair of the negotiation committee came over to brief the major groups on progress with the negotiation in the evening. While agreements have been reached with some sections of the framework, one key issue not yet agreed on is the target on international cooperation and the means of implementation. Looks like this is the real deal; agreeing on a bold target for global financial commitment. The line seem drawn between developed and developing countries as debates on all kinds of terminologies fly around Tachibana, but behind the semantics is some kind of a palpable fear or even intentional manoeuvers to avoid making financial commitments that will ensure that the priority actions set out in the framework will be achieved. The conversation is in one way apprehensive and saddening, yet also hopeful as we see windows of opportunities down the road in the coming months beyond Sendai to continue lobbying and partnering with our governments to make bold and accountable commitments. So, at the end of our briefing with the Chairs, the negotiators crawl back into the Tachibana Hall while CSOs ramp up our advocacy strategy to ensure we get a better deal for the target on international cooperation!
Thanks to Ken Kunita, my Washington sounding Japanese friend who helped me negotiate a great Lunch deal at the university next door to the Sendai International Center! That was a great moment to unwind. Japanese may be shy but they can be very humorous too!