Reflections from the 2019 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, Geneva, Switzerland
By: Pamela Komujuni
Every two years Members of the United Nations, including Governments, non-government stakeholders, the private sector, academia and civil society, gather together at the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR). The Platform is a mechanism to foster practical coherence in the implementation of DRR with other international agendas, such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on climate change. The 2019 Global Platform was held in Geneva from the 13th to the 17th of May, and was the sixth session since these platforms began.
As a member of the Government of Uganda official delegation, this platform was important because it provided us with an opportunity to comparatively assess our progress towards the implementation of the Sendai Framework for DRR (2015-2030), which we committed to alongside other UN member states. This assessment enabled the UNDRR to compile consolidated outcomes on DRR progress that would inform the scheduled deliberations of the other global agendas, particularly on the SDGs, to ensure that implementation of SDGs is done from a risk informed perspective.
The Global Platform also offered us space to engage in comprehensive discussions on risk reduction and management, to network, build partnerships and identify leading innovations for DRR that we can apply in our own countries to enhance the prevention, containment, reduction and management of disaster risks. Official delegations and their partners were able to showcase some of the positive steps we have taken in DRR. For Uganda we presented on our experience conducting hazard, risk and vulnerability profiling of the whole country to derive useful information to inform risk-sensitive development planning at local and national levels. We also got an opportunity to share with the world our experience in implementing disaster risk financing as a mechanism for communities most vulnerable to drought. We also sought to learn from other countries about how they applied similar mechanisms as we seek to scale up our operations to cover more than just drought risks.
The Global Assessment Report 2019 on DRR was also launched, emphasizing how governments, communities and individuals understand their relationship with risk and its reduction. The report provided the first update from countries on progress made against the seven targets of the Sendai Framework for DRR with special emphasis on target (e) to substantially increase the number of countries with national and local DRR strategies by 2020.
In addition, the Global Platform offered an opportunity for all stakeholders active in DRR to network and showcase their initiatives, operations, progress and share challenges with each other and come up with collective recommendations and actions including new, innovative and ground-breaking ideas on managing risk. As such the Avoidable Deaths Network (ADN) got an opportunity to share this novel network with the world. The ADN’s founding president Dr Nibedita Ray-Bennet gave an inspiring presentation about the global network that is “dedicated to finding theoretical and practical solutions to reducing disaster deaths” (www.avoidable-deaths.net). As one of the regional coordinators I was proud to support the presentation, and we were able to provide information to participants about the ADN. We hope more practitioners and stakeholders can embrace the cause and join the network, and collectively we can work towards reducing preventable deaths from disasters.
As a government official and as an individual DRR practitioner, I am already benefiting from my participation in the 2019 Global Platform for DRR. Participation and engagements in several thematic sessions equipped us with lessons and best practices that we are using to enhance our DRR agenda in Uganda. We have used ideas and best practices learnt from the platform to lobby for the integration of risk management with the planning and implementation of major programmes and projects through the establishment of required systems, frameworks and mechanisms for DRR in the upcoming Third National Development Plan for Uganda. I was also able to secure participation of DRR, Sustainable Development Goals and Climate Change government focal points in capacity building sessions organised by UNDRR to ensure the reporting and monitoring of the Sendai Framework is done coherently across the three agendas. Additionally, our country’s experience in disaster risk financing attracted interest and we have since hosted a benchmarking delegation from a country seeking to understand how Uganda has implemented the various components of DRF. Moreover, we are now in discussions on how to harmonize other initiatives like forecast based financing within our DRF framework. Lastly, as an ADN coordinator, I have gained more knowledge about ADN’s mission and this has enabled me to disseminate network information to recruit more members.
Pamela Komujuni is a Senior Disaster Management Officer with the Office of the Prime Minister for the Government of Uganda. She is a passionate Disaster Risk Management practitioner, a profession she has enjoyed for over 12 years, working with communities, government and non-government personnel, policy makers and humanitarian workers to support risk reduction, disaster preparedness and response interventions. She received a Bachelor of Social Science degree from Makerere University Kampala; a Master of Arts in Development Studies from International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University, The Netherlands, specializing in Peace and Conflict Studies; and recently graduated with merit with a Master of Science in Risk, Crisis and Disaster Management from the University of Leicester, United Kingdom. When she’s not busy with DRM work, she’s either reading a fiction novel, struggling to learn French, or arguing and laughing with her husband and three children whom she lives with in Kampala, Uganda.