Vanuatu and Reducing Disaster Risk: Who Will Shape the Future?

Takeshi Komino | March 16, 2015

WCDRR conference proceeding photo Photo: JCC2015

WCDRR conference proceeding photo Photo: JCC2015

Cyclone Pam struck Vanuatu, leaving unprecedented damage to the pacific island state.  Vanuatu president Baldwin Lonsdale told media at the World Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction that ’90 percent of buildings in the capital’ have been destroyed. The country must start anew.  The president also indicated that “after all the development that has taken place, all this development has been wiped out.”  The world clearly needs to step up to support those in dire need of humanitarian assistance.

At the same time, governments are negotiating the post-2015 DRR framework – how we will work together to reduce the risks of disaster moving forward.  Government and civil society representatives had made considerable progress before the conference but advances have been slow since the start of the conference, according to some government representatives.  This is due to difference in perspective on what should actually be the milestones of achievement when implementing this post-2015 framework: monitoring indicators, and how international cooperation happens for countries that are especially vulnerable.

Civil society, including CWS Japan, present at the conference are deeply concerned that this slow pace of achieving consensus on the framework may actually dilute the ambitions we set out to achieve.

The question is, though, who are we intending to serve through this framework?  Climate change intensifies disasters. Vanuatu is a good reminder.  What does risk reduction actually mean for vulnerable nations?  If the conference is not going to come up with answers, who will?