Perspectives on Avoidable Deaths

Dr Albrecht Beck’s Perspective on Avoidable Deaths

Dr Albrecht Beck is Director of Prepared International; member of the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC); and civil expert for Population Movements and Mass Evacuations for NATO. Prepared International is ADN’s Organisational Partner.

Dr Albrecht Beck’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).

With seven years left until the target in 2030, achieving the Sendai Framework’s first two global targets is attainable. With sufficient time and resources, it is possible to achieve even the most intimidating targets. We still have time, and with strong willpower we are able to acquire resources to accomplish the task.

Many projects and partnerships are currently underway, but significantly more is still required to reach the target. Fortunately, new innovations and initiatives arise continuously and people working with these topics possess the substantial drive to push forward despite endless challenges and obstacles in their way.

It is important to remember that whether or not the target is reached, the work is not done after we arrive in 2030. Currently, we are laying the groundwork for a long journey ahead towards a more sustainable path. Reducing disaster mortality and the number of affected people will need to continue after 2030. Hopefully on our way there we are able to create new and perfect existing solutions to be implemented for effective disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.

Capacity Development on all levels stays crucial. If we do not move on this topic strategically, the number of disaster mortality will increase, not decrease.

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

We need to establish meaningful collaboration across all levels with a streamlined agenda and willingness to reach for the set goal and beyond. Effective resource allocation needs to take place to ensure we have full capacity to implement change for all stakeholders.

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

The responsibility of leading the way to achieving the two targets should not be with one organization alone. Action is required in all parts of the world to achieve them, which means that the task needs to be tackled together with everyone involved. Organizations need to collaborate with each other, but also with other stakeholders such as governments and individuals to create impact on all levels. A singular organization taking the lead can only achieve so much and deciding on whose agenda to follow would be a complicated challenge.

Already existing partnerships and collaborations between organizations can show the way forward and provide examples of actions to achieve the goals. With many stakeholders working together, it is possible to reach a multitude of dimensions and increase knowledge with mutual learning to achieve the best outcome.

Still, the usual bureaucratic monsters of international organizations need to provide enough space for expert organizations who can implement the goals of SENDAI, instead of taking the ability to implement from the experts. The lead needs to be handed to the experts.

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

There are great examples from both disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation fields. A factor that combines the two, nature-based solutions, is an effective way to move forward. There are a number of these initiatives with high rates of success.

Some examples for coastal areas include mangrove management and coral reef restorations. In mountainous areas, ecosystems services are being restored and traditional practices for farming and water management are brought back. No matter the area, nature-based solutions can be implemented globally and chosen based on the environment and needs in any area.

Nature-based solutions are often in line with indigenous practices and are able to combine modern technology with indigenous knowledge to create effective disaster risk reduction and adaptation to climate change impacts. Implementing these solutions means also providing protection and increasing resilience in vulnerable communities who have a high risk of being severely impacted by disaster and climate effects.

More generally speaking, empowerment of the local communities will lead to a significant reduction in the amount of disaster death.

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

We have the moral responsibility to strive for a world where no one is faced with the horrors during and following disasters. We have the skills, knowledge, and tools to prevent, reduce, and adapt to the effects of disasters. Choosing to use these capacities to reduce human suffering and mortality is not so much a choice, but a moral obligation. It defines who we strive to be as a collective, global society where no one should be left behind.

This responsibility is felt even more strongly in relation to man-made disasters and the effects of climate change. We have created monumental impacts with our actions, and thus it is also our responsibility to do everything we can to minimize, reduce, and adapt to these impacts. It is especially important to do this for the most vulnerable who feel the worse effects, but who do not have the capacity to protect themselves.

If you are a real disaster manager, this will be close to your heart, and drives you any single day!

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