The evolution of disaster management thought and practice since
the 1970s has made people have a broader and deeper understanding of
the causes of disasters, accompanied by more integrated, holistic
approaches to reduce their impact on the society. The modern paradigm
of disaster management - disaster risk reduction (DRR) —represents
the latest step along this path. DRR is a relatively new concept in
formal terms, but it embraces much earlier thinking and practice. It
is widely embraced by international agencies, governments, disaster
planners and civil society organisations.
Many people see climate change as having a direct impact on the prevalence
and seriousness of disasters, as well as causing them to be more
frequent in the future. There are growing efforts to closely link
DRR and climate change adaptation, both in policy and practice.
DRR is such an all-embracing concept that it has proven difficult
to define or explain in detail, although the broad idea is clear
enough. Inevitably, there are different definitions in the technical
literature, but it is generally understood to mean the broad development
and application of policies, strategies and practices to minimise vulnerabilities
and disaster risks throughout society. The term ‘disaster risk management’ (DRM)
is often used in the same context, which means much the same thing: a systematic
approach to identifying, assessing and reducing risks of all kinds associated
with hazards and human activities. It is more properly applied to the operational
aspects of DRR: the practical implementation of DRR initiatives.
Chennai damage after 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake
There have been growing calls for greater clarity about the components of DRR
and about indicators of progress toward resilience — a challenge that the international
community took up at the UN’s World Conference on Disaster Reduction (WCDR) in Kobe,
Japan, in 2005, only days after the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. The WCDR began the
process of pushing international agencies and national governments beyond the vague
rhetoric of most policy statements and toward setting clear targets and commitments
for DRR. The first step in this process was the formal approval at the WCDR of the Hyogo
Framework for Action (2005–2015) (HFA). This was the first internationally accepted framework
for DRR. It set out an ordered sequence of objectives (outcome – strategic goals – priorities),
with five priorities for action attempting to ‘capture’ the main areas of DRR intervention.
The UN's biennial Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction provided an opportunity for
the UN and its member states to review progress against the Hyogo Framework. It held the
first session from 5 to 7 June 2007 in Geneva, Switzerland, where UNISDR foundation was there. The subsequent
Global Platforms were held in June 2009, May 2011 and May 2013, all in Geneva. The successor
according to the Hyogo Framework was adopted at the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction
held on March 14–18, 2015 in the Japanese city of Sendai. It is known as the Sendai Framework
for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030).
UN initiatives have helped to refine and promote the concept at an international level,
stimulated initially by the UN's designation of the 1990s as the International Decade for
Natural Disaster Reduction. In 1999, UN member states approved the International Strategy
for Disaster Risk Reduction, which reflected a shift from the traditional emphasis on disaster
response to disaster reduction, by seeking to promote a "culture of prevention".