Perspectives on Avoidable Deaths

Professor Alois Hirschmugl’s Perspective on Avoidable Deaths

Professor Alois Hirschmugl is a Regular Officer, Trainer/Expert for international disaster management, and Technical Director of DMAT Consulting KG. DMAT is ADN’s Organisational Partner.

Professor Alois Hirschmugl’s Interview Transcript

  1. Do you believe it is possible to achieve the Sendai Framework’s first two global targets?  The first target is to substantially reduce disaster mortality by 2030, and the second target is to substantially reduce the number of affected people by 2030).

In general, these are a very ambitious targets to be reached by 2030 but there is an opportunity to succeed at the end partially. If there are enough governmental and civil initiatives and people believing in these ambitious targets, we will at the end get closer to it. We have to look into the future and must reduce mortality and numbers of affected people by having in mind the big picture and of threats and sustainable solution design. Mortality as well as number of affected people can be reduced – by training and capacity building, informing and rising awareness for these targets and developing the adequate legislative framework. To reduce disaster mortality substantially until 2030 is a first step that can be done, as mentioned, through awareness building, information and preparedness of all people, including vulnerable groups will working on long lasting strategies for disaster prevention

  1. In no more than two sentences what is the most effective way to achieve the Sendai Framework’s first two targets?

National authorities and operators must be concerned of the high relevance of disaster and disaster mortality and must be convinced to decide on sustainable disaster prevention legislative and institutional measures to achieve effectively the first target of the Sendai Framework.

The most effective way to achieve the second target of Sendai Framework, focusing on industrial accidents, is cooperation at local, national and regional levels and beyond in disaster prevention, preparedness and response as established through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, because disasters know no borders and can simultaneously hit one or several countries without warning.

  1. In your opinion which organisation should take the lead in achieving the Sendai’s first two targets?

In general, each initiative – be it a private or a public one – will support the achievement. It might even be easier for smaller initiatives as they might be more flexible in achieving those targets instead of larger organisations. Looking at the ADN – Avoidable Deaths Network  – this is an initiative which tries to reach the two targets by awareness raising and training population especially at risk – supported by scientific studies and means.

From my opinion the leading organization in achieving the Sendai´s first two targets is the UN actually uniting all 193 member states aiming to establish the Agenda 2030 also as national framework to work and cooperate on all levels to achieve a better life for all by targeting to achieve the 17 sustainable development goals (SDG). Especially SDG17 (Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development) is a substantial frame for the first two Sendai targets, aiming to build up global cooperation to achieve a good and safe life for all people and including all efforts from citizens upwards to national authorities and global networks. These cooperative attempts will lead for example to sustainable steps to SDG11(Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable) and SDG9 (Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation), both directly addressing all strategies and activities of Sendai target 1 and 2.

  1. Are you aware of any good practices in reducing the number of avoidable disaster deaths and affected people?

As mentioned before – make people aware of risks and behaviour in different situations like initiatives from Avoidable Deaths Network. But there are also other initiatives and projects e.g. within EU Civil Protection Mechanism, where people are trained in how to get international teams quickly into a country to reduce deaths, or awareness raising about behaviour during and after earthquakes, or building houses according to new standards and building codes, like in Nablus/Palestine, etc. 

  1. Why should we reduce avoidable disaster deaths and the number of people affected by disasters?

Each death will count. So, besides reaching the global targets of Sendai Framework, it is a must to reduce avoidable disaster deaths and the number of people affected with the proper options of preparedness, risk analysis, risk reduction, technical developments (early warning systems) etc. If there is a political will and governments willing to support initiatives, it is possible to reach the first two targets of Sendai Framework.

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