6 September 2023, Geneva, Switzerland - In a concerted effort to address critical issues related to disaster risk reduction, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) hosted the High-level Roundtable Dialogue “Scaling Up Disaster Risk Reduction in Humanitarian Action”, which convened 1,500 + participants from Permanent Missions to the United Nations in Geneva, United Nations country teams, local government networks and disaster risk reduction practitioners. The Roundtable took place at UNITAR’s headquarters offices in Geneva and virtually.
The High-level Roundtable Dialogue had the two-fold objective of:
- Launching the e-learning course: “Checklist on Scaling Up Disaster Risk Reduction in Humanitarian Action” to serve as a tool to guide humanitarian action in adopting a risk-sensitive approach when planning humanitarian needs and responses.
- Convening Experts on Disaster Management and Humanitarian Action to emphasize the significance of integrating disaster risk reduction into humanitarian affairs, particularly the importance of delivering training on disaster risk reduction matters dedicated to fragile contexts, such as humanitarian settings. The expert panel was comprised of Dr. Annette Hearns, Deputy Head of Office Policy, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) South Sudan; Ms. Asma Saleem, Deputy Representative for Asia Pacific, International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA) and Mr. Nicholas Bishop, Head of Unit & Disaster Risk Reduction Programme Officer, International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Mounting evidence shows that confluent crises not only erode people’s coping capacities, but also, they can wipe out decades of sustainable gains. Disasters can reverse global development if countries do not have the opportunity to recover and restore their systems. The unprecedented and increasing number of humanitarian needs coupled with pre-existing vulnerabilities show that action is needed to improve disaster prevention and ultimately build resilience. The e-learning course “Checklist on Scaling Up Disaster Risk Reduction in Humanitarian Action” aims to contribute to global efforts to integrate disaster risk reduction in fragile contexts through training and education.
During the event, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction and Head of UNDRR, Ms. Mami Mizutori highlighted:
The Checklist for Scaling Up Disaster Risk Reduction in Humanitarian Action outlines specific actions to make disaster risk reduction more integral to humanitarian planning and programming. By jointly addressing the root causes of vulnerability and integrating resilience building into all actions, we cannot only reduce humanitarian needs and suffering, but can prevent them from emerging in the first place.
Also, the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNITAR, Mr. Nikhil Seth emphasized:
We are aware that operationalizing disaster risk reduction in humanitarian and crisis settings is challenging given each context has complex specificities. This online tool we launched today is a starting point aimed at assisting relevant actors in adopting a risk-sensitive approach when preparing Humanitarian Needs Overviews and subsequent Humanitarian Response Plans. Through our collaboration, we look forward to continuing furthering our capacity building efforts in support of our communities.
Through this joint initiative, UNITAR and the UNDRR will reinforce the critical importance of disaster risk reduction in humanitarian action, equipping professionals with the tools and knowledge needed to save lives and alleviate suffering.