The UN General Assembly Adopts a Resolution on Disaster Risk Reduction

The UN General Assembly (UNGA) adopted Resolution A/RES/71/276 on 13 February 2017, containing indicators for measuring global progress in reducing disaster losses and a revision of terminology related to disaster risk reduction (DRR). The resolution was co-sponsored by 61 UN Member States with the purpose of offering States the capacity to measure their efforts to reduce disaster losses, provide accountability and measure increases in international cooperation.

To these ends, the resolution endorses the recommendation contained in sections IV and V of the 2016 Report of the open-ended intergovernmental expert working group on indicators and terminology relating to disaster risk reduction, established by UNGA in its resolution A/RES/69/284 of 25 June 2015. The Report offers (i) a set of indicators to measure global progress in the implementation of the Sendai Framework for DRR 2015-2030 and (ii) the update of the 2009 UNISDR Terminology on Disaster Risk Reduction.

As to the first element, the adoption of indicators gives boost to efforts to meet the first deadline under the Sendai Framework, namely that of having a substantial increase in the number of States incorporating DRR strategies by 2020. With that aim, the resolution also endorses the request to UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction to provide Member States technical guidance to (a) develop minimum standards and metadata for disaster-related data, (b) methodologies for the measurement of indicators, (c) review data readiness for preparing for the first biennal cycle of review of the Sendai Framework and (d) develop technical guidance material for the testing of indicators.

As to the second element, the resolution includes a comprehensive A to Z overhaul of terminology related to DRR to provide decision and policy-makers a common language when working on strategic plans for DRR. The resolution defines 38 relevant terms, including affected people, capacity, critical infrastructure, disaster (which is defined as a serious disruption of the functioning of a community or society at any scale due to hazardous events interacting with conditions of exposure, vulnerability and capacity, leading to one or more of the following: human, material, economic and environmental losses and impacts), disaster risk, early warning system, hazard, vulnerability etc.