UN Global Platform for Disaster Reduction 2011

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If-we-do-not-join-handsGlobal Platform 2011

The Third Session of the Global Platform convened 8-13 May 2011 brought together disaster risk reduction, recovery and reconstruction experts. The theme of the conference was 'increased investment in local action'. 

Over 2,000 policy makers and practitioners, from government, international organizations, NGOs, academia, and the private sector from both developing and developed countries gathered to assess and share information as well as set new directions for the disaster risk reduction imperative, with emphasis on local initiatives and activities.

One of the core activities for the GNDR team was to share the findings from Views from the Frontline 2011, and to present the case studies from around the world showing Action at the Frontline.  GNDR members participated in various sessions including:

Various GNDR members hosted the GNDR video display and stall to share views with delegates throughout the conference and to highlight the Action at the Frontline programme

  • Visit our conference blog and see comments and commentary from Network Members posted during the conference.
  • See the results of our conference polls and Share your Views here.
  • Download the GNDR statement from the closing plenary
  • View more photos from the conference here.


Following the Chair’s summary statement at the close of the 2011 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, there was strong concern from many Global Network members.  Marcus Oxley, Chair of GNDR commented:


Marcus-in-WB-panel“We, as representatives of civil society organisations working alongside vulnerable people primarily in low and low-middle income countries, believe the official UN statement following the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction held in Geneva, 8-13 May 2011 provides an incomplete and overly optimistic assessment of progress towards HFA outcome. If HFA is to be successful, this assessment needs to be challenged."


Despite the intended focus of the GP-DRR 2011 conference being on local action, the official statement omits to report on the continued upwards trend in disaster losses, particularly the reality of a lack of HFA implementation at the local level. In so doing it does not take into account some of the key findings of national, regional and international studies and reports (including Global Assessment Report (GAR) 2009 & 2011; HFA Mid-Term Review; Views from the Frontline (VFL) 2009 & 2011 which provide strong evidence of a persisting and growing gap between policy and practice.

Concern amongst GNDR members resulted in consultation and the subsequent publication of a Civil Society Statement offering a reality-check, based on facts and frontline experience, leading to a significantly different interpretation of the progress in reducing disaster risk.  This was distributed in English, Spanish and French.  With the objective of supporting next steps, a set of priority actions to accelerate HFA progress at the local level was set out.

Read the full Civil Society Statement in English here

Lire la déclaration complète la Société Civile en français iciFrancais

Lea la declaración completa de la Sociedad Civil en español aquí


1.       There is strong evidence that, although deaths from floods and cyclones have decreased, overall, disaster losses are increasing. Based on current trends there is likely to be a substantial increase in disaster losses by 2015.

2.       Whilst national governments report progress across all five HFA priority areas in the 2009 -2011 period, progress that is being made tends to be in the areas of preparedness, response and recovery.  Furthermore, there is strong evidence to indicate that progress at national level is not being matched by progress at the local level. 

3.       Since 2005, the HFA has proven to be a useful framework to guide and motivate national efforts towards disaster risk reduction. However, whilst many countries have made significant progress in establishing disaster management legislation and institutional arrangements (notably around enhanced disaster preparedness and response) implementation of national policies and plans is constrained by a lack of the necessary financial resources and capacities at the local level.

4.       Very few governments and inter-governmental organisations are able to address the underlying risk factors that are configuring the rapid growth of risk.

5.       Despite the strong overlaps between poverty, climate and disasters – these challenges tend to be addressed in a fragmented, ‘silo’ approach, rather than in a coherent, unified framework.

6.       A massive scaling up of local action is needed to achieve the HFA expected outcome by 2015.



Informed by the findings of national, regional and international analysi the GNDR has highlighted five actions to accelerate local progress:

1. Government responsibility to protect citizens from preventable and foreseeable disasters is made a legal commitment under existing international human rights law by 2013.   
  • By adopting a human rights-based approach, the obligations of national governments to their citizens can be operationalised through human rights procedural requirements. Political commitment and public accountability is strengthened when legal obligations are clear. For example:
  • the right to non-discrimination, whichsupports the principle of protecting the most vulnerable social groups;
  • the right to participation – if vulnerable people and their local leaders do not participate in decision-making processes then their specific needs, capacities and vulnerabilities get ignored;
  • the right to information - public awareness, effective participation and downwards accountability is only possible if vulnerable people have access to appropriate information on risks and risk reduction measures;
  • the right to remedy - which requires States to have effective accountability mechanisms, including impartial  monitoring processes and access to an appropriate means to  redress  in situations where governments fail to implement specific rights.
2. By 2013, national governments undertake nation-wide participatory risk assessments at the local level and implement regular audits of DRR progress at the local level through multi-stakeholder monitoring, reporting and verification systems. 

The starting point for reducing disaster and climate-related risks amongst vulnerable communities lies in the localised knowledge of the hazards, capacities and vulnerabilities, roles and responsibilities of local people and their institutions. Gender-differentiated risk assessments and associated mapping (incorporating both disaster and climate change risk) is essential to informing the planning of public investment decisions, including local programming of the principal development sectors. Importantly, local risk assessments can provide appropriate baselines from which to measure future disaster and climate change impacts, enabling decision-makers to better account for disaster losses and thereby strengthen the political and economic case and accountability for risk-sensitive development. 

3. By 2013, donor and implementing governments develop innovative financial strategies to mobilise resources and strengthen local risk governance capacities.

Lack of financial resources was identified by the VFL 2011 survey as the primary constraint to converting policies and legislation into tangible actions at the local level. Alternative financial strategies are needed to scale up local institutional capacities and provide dedicated budget allocations to support local action.  Local authority administrative functions such as planning and coordination are not matched by sufficient financial and human resources, technical expertise and institutional capacity building for effective implementation, including the incorporation of disaster risk reduction into local sectoral programming.

4. All DRR actors must prioritise actions that address the underlying drivers of risk

There is overwhelming evidence that current development processes (including patterns of economic growth and associated urbanisation) damage the environment, increase the exposure of people and assets to disaster risk, and are unsustainable in the longer term.  To bring about a substantial reduction in disaster losses the policies and strategies for risk reduction must prioritise actions that address the underlying risk drivers that configure risk.

5. Establish a multi-stakeholder initiative to develop a “Common Resilience Framework to harmonise different development interventions.

At the household level, people understand poverty, disasters and climate change in a holistic way. Only when the current diverse and fragmented approach to development is connected in a strategic manner can the various themes (e.g. disaster risk reduction, climate adaptation, poverty alleviation, social protection, food security) be effective in building community resilience.[5]  Developing a common rights-based community level resilience framework, together with associated assessment, planning and monitoring tools would: 1) support greater coherence, coordination and collaboration between different sectors; 2) reduce institutional duplication of effort leading to optimised use of resources and greater impact; and 3)  inform joint programme planning and implementation. Such an approach should be developed rapidly to inform thinking about a post 2015 framework for the HFA and Millenium Development Goals.

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