Geneva, Switzerland– The 6th session of Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (GPDRR) and the World Reconstruction Conference concluded last week in Geneva, Switzerland, are crucial in terms of global disaster risk reduction (DRR) planning, policy and investment. These events provided critical contributions to the 2019 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development thus contributing to a risk-informed implementation and monitoring of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as well as to the UN Climate Action Summit, and determining the priorities in terms of integrated risk management in coming years.
Excerpts from Chair’s summary, “Taking the Sendai Framework implementation forward”: “Disaster resilient infrastructure is key to achieve the vision of risk-informed development. There is a strong need to capitalize on the co-benefits of ecosystem-based approaches and leverage the complementarity across blue, green and grey infrastructure”. It goes on to state, “Nature- and ecosystem-based approaches should be promoted to achieve the objectives of resilience dividend and integrated in disaster risk reduction strategies at all levels. The stakeholders committed to engage with the nature-based solutions and resilience and adaptation track of the Climate Action Summit.”
The Chair’s concluding summary highlighted the need for integrating ecosystems and nature based solutions (NBS) in the national strategies and plans for DRR and resilience building. In the context of the changing climate and looming threat of ecosystem breakdown that the IPBES Global Assessment drew attention to, further promotion of ecosystem-based approaches and NBS in this outcome document is a step to the right direction.
90% of disasters are water related. Wetlands International thus promotes management and restoration of wetland ecosystems as ‘blue-green infrastructure’ in the landscape as a buffer against disasters, building resilience and offering climate solutions. These solutions also come with multiple co-benefits as wetlands store carbon, are climate adaptive, provide food and fresh water, contribute to healthy urban spaces, and have important cultural values.
As a member of the Partners for Resilience and PEDRR network, we brought the science of ecosystems’ protective function, key lessons of our field-based programs from around the world to GPDRR to highlight the urgency to implement and upscale successful examples such as Building with Nature and integrate ecosystems in DRR strategies and plans at national level. We are happy to see that these points are taken into account in the Chair’s summary of GPDRR.
Wetlands International co-organized two Working Sessions on ‘Green-Blue Infrastructure for DRR’ and ‘Ecosystems, IRM and water-related risks’ with high level panellists which included the former Prime Minister of South Korea (name).
The Global platform also recognises the relation between climate change, environment degradation and social instability- a relation that has been overlooked for a long time. This is one of the key points of our work. In the Water Shocks report, we explained the relationship between wetlands and availability/access to fresh water resources and livelihoods, human security, and presented cogent cases from Mali illustrating the relationship between climate change, wetlands loss, and fragility.
It is important to note that climate change and ecosystem breakdown are approached jointly . As Dr. Raditya Jati of the Indonesian National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB), member of the Indonesian delegation to the GPDRR explaining how Indonesian government is implementing Building with Nature approaches: “If we protect nature, nature will protect us”.
The World Reconstruction Conference had a special session on making a case for Green recovery in Kerala, efforts are being made to rebuild Kerala after the recent destructive floods loss wetlands was one of the major causes of the floods. Our recommendation to restore wetlands considering their role in landscapes received high attention.
Wetlands International also called upon private sector stakeholders and board members of the ARISE network to invest in more in nature-based solutions and in projects like “Water as Leverage and Building with Nature”. The inclusion of ecosystems within the Sendai Monitoring Framework was also highlighted.
We have been working on restoring and safeguarding wetland ecosystems that work as “resilience dividend” in the context of climate change, for both people and nature. With the shocking report of IPBES fresh in mind, we hope leaders of the nations will realise the urgency of taking healthy ecosystem into their planning and investments to save both people and the planet.
Wetlands International South Asia
Urban Resilience Coordinator