Most deaths due to disasters are avoidable. Avoidable deaths are those that are preventable due to: advancements in disaster management science and weather forecasting systems (DLR, 2013; Galtung, 1969; Glantz, 2009); increased sophistication in human-built environments (Lalonde, 2011; UN, 2005); and ongoing economic and policy developments worldwide (Farmer, 2004; Sen, 2003; UN, 2015; UNISDR, 2015a, b; Ray-Bennett, 2017, 2018). Nonetheless, avoidable deaths continue to occur despite these advancements in both developed and developing countries. However, they are most severely felt in low-income countries (Coppola, 2011; DFID, 2013; Ray-Bennett, 2017a, 2017b; Roberts, 2008). Anything less than ten deaths is considered unavoidable in many disaster scenarios. Avoidable deaths are deaths beyond the number ten and are potentially avoidable (Ray-Bennett, 2017a, 2017b).
The ADN aims to promote interdisciplinary collaboration between the arts, humanities, social sciences, life sciences, natural sciences and engineering wherever possible, in order to generate empirically grounded solutions that can support government officials, UN systems and other institutions to reduce the incidence of deaths. The ADN also aims to collaborate with state and non-state actors wherever possible through North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation in order to advance the agenda of avoiding deaths. For this, the ADN aims to foster an engaged community of: policy makers; practitioners; national, international and multilateral actors; primary responders; researchers and scholars; media and journalists; investors; and collaborating partners with the common goal of mainstreaming avoidable deaths. This involves mainstreaming avoidable deaths into the disaster risk management cycle and in all activities related to disaster risk avoidance and sustainable development in low- and middle-income countries.
The formation of the ADN is timely and is directly related to the UN’s current ambitions. In 2015, the UN’s ‘Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030’ adopted seven Global Targets, of which the first two Targets are:
(a) Substantially reduce global disaster mortality by 2030, aiming to lower average per 100,000 global mortality rate in the decade 2020-2030 compared to the period 2005-2015.
(b) Substantially reduce the number of affected people globally by 2030, aiming to lower the average global figure per 100,000 in the decade 2020 -2030 compared to the period 2005-2015.
In 2015, the UN also revised the Millennium Development Goals, currently known as the ‘Sustainable Development Goals 2015-2030’. There are 17 Goals, of which the most relevant to the ADN are: Goal 1 (No Poverty), Goal 2 (Zero Hunger), Goal 3 (Good Health and Well Being), Goal 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation), Goal 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), Goal 13 (Climate Action), Goal 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions), and Goal 17 (Partnerships for the Goals). More than 185 UN Member States have ratified the UN’s Sendai and the Sustainable Development Goals; hence, they are extremely important frameworks in low and middle-income countries.
Through its agenda of avoidable deaths the ADN addresses these global targets and goals by gathering evidence to “build the knowledge of government officials at all levels, civil society, communities and volunteers, as well as the private sector, through sharing experiences, lessons learned, good practices and training and education on disaster risk reduction, including the use of existing training and education mechanisms and peer learning” (UNISDR, 2015, p. 15).