Time will tell whether or not the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) in Sendai marked a turning point on how the international community reduces and manages disaster risk. But what can be said already after the first few days of the Conference is that many actors across multi-laterals, governments, aid organizations, and civil society today acknowledge the important role the private sector can and should play in managing disaster risk. This was much less the case 10 years ago.
The interest in the insurance industry's risk assessment, risk pricing and risk transfer capabilities at WCDRR 2015 was expressed widely and repeatedly (and yes, my selection of sessions was biased ...). The buzzword of "risk informed investment decisions" hovered in the corridors.
If a Minister (and no, not a Minister of Development) of an industrialized country publicly calls on leveraging aid funding through buying risk transfer instruments, the G7 contemplates launching a climate insurance initiative to reach 100m additional insured individuals in 5 years and the Green Climate Fund starts to become operational with its first USD 10bn to fund climate change adaptation, change is in the air.
Now nobody suggests to put the cart in front of the horse, i.e. prioritize risk transfer over risk reduction and mitigation. However, Tropical Cyclone Pam - which battered several Pacific Islands States such as Vanuatu and Tuvalu over the past weekend - has been a stark reminder that there will always be residual risk and making arrangements for financial protection, to help mobilize immediate relief and recovery efforts, must be an essential part of any comprehensive resilience strategy.
What has also become clear is that 2015 offers a unique opportunity for the international community to link the disaster risk reduction agenda (Sendai in March) with the development finance agenda (Addis Ababa in July), the sustainable development agenda (New York, September) and the climate negotiations (Paris in December).
Let's leverage the positive momentum of 2015!
Image: Televised debate at the WCDRR (WCDRR / flickr)
Category: Climate/natural disasters: Climate change, Disaster risk, Resilience
Location: Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan