Asia and Pacific UNISDR Informs/Words Into Action
This Publication has been developed by United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction Asia & Pacific.
About UNISDR Regional Office for Asia & Pacific
With over 50% of the total world disasters, the Asia and Pacific Islands region represents the widest and most disaster prone continent in the world, beyond Africa, with a regular and increased frequency of typhoons, tsunamis, floods, droughts, fires and other natural hazards. Despite the wealth of expertise, knowledge and know-how in disaster risk reduction, the increasing population growth, widespread poverty, environmental degradation, rising pollution and wild human settlements keep increasing the vulnerabilities of most communities in Asia and the Pacific Islands, thereby creating a favorable terrain to allow the above natural hazards to transform invariably into devastating disasters wiping out all human lives and economic lifelines on their way, and setting back years of continued development efforts.
In December 2004, the tragic tsunami in the Indian Ocean has heightened the level of awareness of the communities in Asia and the Pacific about the importance of integrating disaster risk reduction into national development planning and reminded them of the need to work together in a coordinated manner to respond to the threat of disasters.
In that spirit, as a direct follow-up to the World Conference on Disaster Reduction (January 2005, Kobe, Japan) and at the request of the 168 UN Member States grouped together on the occasion, the UNISDR established a regional presence to cover the whole Asia and Pacific Islands region. The UNISDR regional Unit for Asia and the Pacific was set up in June 2005 in Bangkok, Thailand, hosted by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).
The UNISDR Asia & Pacific is currently divided into two separate bodies:
(i) A regional unit, based in Bangkok, Thailand, which covers the whole Asia and Pacific Islands region. It includes a Senior Regional Coordinator and a Regional Programme Officer, as well as two local support staff
(ii) A sub-regional liaison office for Central Asia, based in Dushanbe, Tajikistan and covering Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan, is coordinated by a Junior Professional Officer
The core mandate of the UNISDR Asia & Pacific includes awareness-raising activities in disaster risk reduction, including the promotion of the World Disaster Reduction Campaign and the annual UN Sasakawa Award for Disaster Reduction, advocacy through policy formulation, the dissemination of guidelines to assist in the implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA), promote the establishment of national platforms for disaster risk reduction, enhance networking and partnership-building to contribute to an effective culture of safety and protection of all communities in the Asia and Pacific Islands region.
Three specific areas of focus have been identified to guide the work of the UNISDR Asia and the Pacific. They include:
(i) The promotion of the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) throughout the whole Asia and Pacific Islands region and the forging of partnerships at the regional level to facilitate its implementation, with the effective operational support and expertise of members of the UNISDR Asian Partnership on Disaster Reduction (IAP) and other relevant players.
(ii) The follow-up and strengthening of the projects carried out under the United Nations Flash Appeal for the Indian Ocean Tsunami Early Warning System (IOTWS), including an increased cooperation and coordination with relevant technical partners and the donor community. (iii) The development of an effective information management system with comprehensive databases, the maintenance of a regional website, the production of a bi-annual publication “Disaster Reduction in Asia and the Pacific - UNISDR Informs”, the dissemination of regional highlights promoting regional partners’ initiatives and relevant events among other.
The UNISDR Asia and Pacific Islands works through a growing network of national platforms to mobilize governmental actions in disaster risk reduction as well as directly with the governments in the region, as mandated though the HFA, to assist them in identifying their priorities and in formulating their national action plan on disaster risk reduction towards its integration in national development plans. It also makes an effective use of regional partners’ networks at the national level, in particular the UN Country Team members, to facilitate the effective implementation of DRR strategies.
Introduction to the Publication
The Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) was formulated as a comprehensive, action-oriented response to international concern about the growing impacts of disasters on individuals, communities and national development. Based on careful study of trends in disaster risks and practical experience in disaster risk reduction, and subjected to intensive negotiations during 2004 and early 2005, the HFA was finally brought to fruition and adopted by 168 Governments at the World Conference on Disaster Reduction, held in Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan, 18-22 January 20052. The outcome it seeks is “The substantial reduction of disaster losses, in lives and in the social, economic and environmental assets of communities and countries.” This is further elaborated into three Strategic Goals and five Priorities for Action.
An important feature of the HFA is its legally non-binding character, which allows it to set out a well-grounded set of technical and organizational requirements for reducing disaster risks, while leaving the details of its implementation to the decision of governments and relevant organizations, according to their needs and capacities. The responsibilities for implementation and follow-up are defined for the different actors – particularly, States, regional organizations, international organizations, and the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR). Primary responsibility lies with States, but an enabling international environment of support is also vital.
Among other things, the HFA calls on the ISDR to “facilitate consultative processes to develop guidelines and policy tools for each priority area, with relevant national, regional and international expertise.” The present document “Words into Action: A Guide for Implementing the Hyogo Framework” is the first product generated to meet this call. It has been prepared through a long process of drafting and consultation that has involved the participation of numerous organizations and individuals in dozens of countries. Drawing on their expertise and experience, the Guide describes 22 tasks that are organized to help address and guide the implementation of the HFA’s five Priorities for Action. Depending on the national situation, the tasks may provide good starting points for organizing action, or useful references against which to check existing policies and procedures. Different users can draw on the parts that are useful to them, adapting the tasks according to their particular needs.
An important role of the ISDR system is to develop tools to help Government authorities and other organizations to implement the HFA. With this first overall guidance document completed, we will now facilitate efforts to develop guides for specific sectors and situations. To assist in this effort, and to improve future versions of the present Guide, we would welcome feedback from its readers and users.
-Sálvano Briceño Director, ISDR secretariat 30 April 2007
Chapter 1. Making disaster risk reduction a priority
Chapter 2. Improving risk information and early warning
Chapter 3. Building a culture of safety and resilience
Chapter 4. Reducing the risks in key sectors
Chapter 5. Strengthening preparedness for response
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You can download the complete publication from United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction- Asia Pacific