An update from Mami Mizutori, UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction — 4 December 2020

In the newsletter circulated by United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction Mami Mizutori reflects on the achievements made by different partner nations towards building disaster resilience and the global actions that need to be undertaken in line with Target E of Sendai Framework.

The Secretary-General expressed it very well in his message for World Tsunami Awareness Day (WTAD) on November 5: “Currently we are struggling with what some describe as a tsunami of death and disease due to COVID-19. This metaphor comes easily because living memory remains strong of the worst sudden onset disaster this century, the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 that took more than 227,000 lives.”

It is the uniquely deadly and destructive nature of tsunamis which led the UN General Assembly to add WTAD to the international calendar five years ago. WTAD has served as a rallying point not just for raising awareness of tsunami risk but disaster risk in general, and this year, the importance of disaster risk governance in particular.

#TsunamiDay was another opportunity to drive home the message that we need to increase the number of national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020 in line with Target (e) of the Sendai Framework. It was a busy day which resulted in a huge response across our social media channels, reaching more than 1 million people, thanks to a campaign supported by the UN and countries on the front line of tsunami risk.

My morning started with the opening of the Third World Tsunami Museum Conference. Keeping alive the memory of past disasters and what we’ve learnt from them is key in raising tsunami awareness. I spoke about the ‘miracle of Kamaishi’, an incident which occurred during the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami where school children acted on their learning to evacuate immediately and others in the community followed them, saving the lives of many.

It was clear to me listening to tsunami survivors and representatives of five featured museums from Indonesia, Japan, Portugal, Thailand and Hawaii, that visiting these memorials is often both very moving and deeply educational.

The Chair of the UNDRR Support Group, Amb Emilio Izquierdo of Ecuador, moderated our online panel discussion Ready for the Next Wave! He reminded the online audience that tsunamis do not happen in a vacuum. The cascading impacts from a tsunami can increase poverty and vulnerability to other events on disaster-prone coastlines.

UNDRR greatly values our partnership with IOC-UNESCO and it was encouraging to hear its Executive Secretary, Vladimir Ryabinin, highlight the value of Tsunami Ready initiatives in the Caribbean. UNDP’s Ronald Jackson emphasized the importance of institutionalizing best practice when it comes to preparedness and early warning. We also heard sharp insights and good practices into managing tsunami risk from an impressive line-up of Permanent Representatives from countries on the front-line of disaster risk: Indonesia, Jamaica, Japan, the Maldives and Portugal.


I first met the Prime Minister of Mongolia, Ukhnaagiin Khürelsükh, when Mongolia hosted the 2018 Asia Ministerial Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction in Ulaanbaatar. He has long been a strong advocate of disaster risk reduction and ensured in 2017, when he was the Deputy Prime Minister that all 22 major cities in the country joined the Making Cities Resilient Campaign.

The Prime Minister gave a major boost to the launch of the new Making Cities Resilient 2030 (MCR2030) initiative on 28 October, on the last day of the Daring Cities conference convened by Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI). He confirmed through a video message that his government has fulfilled its commitment to implement Target E of the Sendai Framework and that all its major cities are now implementing local DRR strategies in a country where 80% of its 2.8 million people live in cities.

MCR2030 will offer cities around the world a clear, three-stage resilience roadmap for assessing, planning and implementing risk reduction towards building their resilience. The resilience roadmap will link cities within a peer-to-peer learning environment and communities of practice, supported by access to tools, technical specialists and advisers.

MCR2030 builds on the success of the ten-year-old Making Cities Resilient Campaign, which concludes at the end of 2020 and has more than 4,300 city signatories. MCR2030 will run from January 2021 to the end of 2030.Our core partners of this initiative are: C40 Cities, ICLEI, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Resilient Cities Network (RCN), United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), World Council on City Data (WCCD) and the World Bank Group.


There has been an acceleration since 2017 of Governments’ efforts to develop disaster risk reduction strategies that are aligned with the Sendai Framework and coherent with other key global framework agreements including the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Our recently released status report on Target E implementation 2020 provides an overview of progress towards achieving this key objective of having a substantial increase in the number of national and local disaster risk reduction strategies in place by the end of this year. This report covers progress made by Member States from 2015 to 2019. The figures and analyses provided in this report build on self-assessments and data input by Member State Governments into the Sendai Framework Monitor as of 21 August 2020.


Anticipate and Act — that was the title of the Stockholm High-Level Meeting on addressing the humanitarian impact of climate change co-hosted by the Swedish Government, UNDRR and WFP in collaboration with the Swedish Red Cross.

The meeting featured two panel conversations, one focused on food insecurity as a result of climate change and the other panel focused on solutions and how to reduce and anticipate risk.

It was clear consensus that more concrete steps need to be taken to protect the most vulnerable from the impacts of climate change. Sweden, leading by example, announced at this conference its support for the Horn of Africa Partnership for Early Warning and Early Action with UNDRR, WFP and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) as partners. A cell will be established at the IGAD Climate Predication and Application Centre in Nairobi to help operationalize a regional multi-hazard early warning system. Special attention will be given to flood and drought risk.

There was general agreement that there need to be closer links between humanitarian and development action. My own view is that humanitarian action needs to happen with an eye to avoiding a recurrence of predictable events and include disaster risk reduction measures, which will continue long after the response phase is over to reduce future vulnerability.

In a joint opinion piece with Peter Eriksson, Sweden’s Minister for International Development Cooperation, and David Beasley, Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme, I argue that in the context of the on-going climate emergency and COVID-19, there is “an opportunity to hardwire the priorities of climate change mitigation, adaptation and disaster risk reduction into national systems that are not yet fully equipped to deal with the grim realities of a riskier world.”


It is easy to get lost in the tragedy and numbers related to disasters, but I was pleased to be reminded on the 50th commemoration of Cyclone Bhola that prevention does save lives and that Bangladesh has made enormous strides in early warning and early action.

Estimates of the death toll from Cyclone Bhola which struck the coast of Bangladesh on November 12/13 in 1970 vary from 300,000 to one million. Cyclone Bulbul, a cyclone of similar strength, which struck the same coastal area in 2019 killed some 20 people. More than 2.4million people had been evacuated before the cyclone struck land as part of the Cyclone Preparedness Programme. The CPP is jointly run by the Government and the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society with the support of the International Federation of Red Cross and other partners.

In a solemn ceremony to remember the tragedy, Bangladesh Minister of Disaster Management and Relief, Dr. Emanur Rahman, highlighted and recognized the role of CPP volunteers in achieving a remarkable reduction in mortality from cyclones over the years. I would also like to salute the efforts of the 55,000 CPP volunteers so ably led by Mr. Ahmadul Haque, Head of the CPP, and Mr. Feroz Salahuddin, Secretary-General of the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society. It is encouraging to know that they are expanding their focus to cover other hazards; long may their work prosper.

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I hope that you will find this update useful and informative.
If you would like more information about UNDRR’s many activities, please do visit and please — stay safe and well.

Public and private sectors Strengthen DRR partnerships amid COVID-19 pandemic

Multi-stakeholder resilience approach emphasized at the NRC Colloquium 2020

In photo: (1st row, L-R) Amb. Roberto R. Romulo, NRC Convenor and Chairman of the Carlos P. Romulo Foundation for Peace and Development; Sec. Delfin Lorenzana, NRC Co-chair for Government and Secretary of National Defense; Mr. Hans T. Sy, NRC Co-chair for the Private Sector and Co-chair of ARISE Philippines;  Ms. Mami Mizutori, UN Secretary General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction and Head of UNDRR; Ms. Antonia Yulo Loyzaga, NRC President; (2nd row, L-R) Dr. Rajib Shaw, Chair of the UN Global Science Technology Advisory Group (STAG) for Disaster Risk Reduction and Chair of the UN Asia Pacific Science Technology and Academia Advisory Group (APSTAAG); Usec. Marivel Sacendoncillo, NRC Vice-chair for Government and Undersecretary for Local Government of DILG;  Mr. Ernesto Garilao, NRC Vice-chair for CSOs/NGOs and Chairman and President of the Zuellig Family Foundation; Fr. Jose Ramon Villarin, SJ, NRC Vice-chair for Scientific Organizations and Academe and Trustee of the Manila Observatory; Dr. Animesh Kumar, OIC and Deputy Chief of the UNDRR Regional Office for Asia and Pacific; (3rd row, L-R) Ms. Malu Erni, NRC Executive Director; Dir. Tecson John Lim of the Office of Civil Defense;  Governor Albert Garcia of the Province of Bataan;  Mayor Oscar Moreno of Cagayan de Oro City; Mayor Jerry Treñas of Iloilo City; (4th row, L-R)  Mayor Madelaine Alfelor of Iriga City;  Mayor Jaime Fresnedi of Muntinlupa City;  Mayor Nelson Legacion of Naga City;  Mayor Richard Gomez, DPA of Ormoc City;  Mayor Isabelle Climaco of Zamboanga City

COVID-19 has added new complexity and uncertainty to public-private partnerships in disaster risk. To counter its cascading impacts, there is an urgent need for evidence-informed local leadership that is reinforced by multi-stakeholder collaboration.

In response to COVID-19’s challenges and the year-round threats posed by other hazards, the National Resilience Council (NRC) held the virtual NRC Colloquium 2020 to highlight local governments’ efforts to achieve evidence-informed risk governance on 30 October. Designed to highlight accomplishments, challenges, and opportunities, local chief executives and their resilience champions shared how they effectively bridged the gap between science, policy, and practice in building local resilience in the Philippines.

The “Pathways and Milestones in Building Local Resilience,” virtual colloquium officially marked the transition of NRC’s eight local government partners under its Resilient Local Government Units Program from the Year 1 PREPARE Phase to the Year 2 ADAPT Phase. Among the partners are the local government units of Cagayan De Oro City, Muntinlupa City, Zamboanga City, Iloilo City, Naga City, Province of Bataan, Ormoc City, and Iriga City.

The colloquium allowed local chief executives to share their personal narratives and resilience journeys. Their designated resilience champions put the spotlight on the LGU’s technical reports and their achievements relative to the PREPARE Year Resilience Scorecard. Both revealed how leadership and governance training, stakeholder engagement in applying climate and disaster risk assessments, and the use of web-based spatial-temporal platforms informed their strategies, acts of leadership, and good practices. They outlined their roadmaps to adaptation and transformation based on their learnings and insights during this phase of the program.

NRC Convenor Ambassador Roberto Romulo, Chairman, Carlos P. Romulo Foundation; NRC Co-Chair for the Private Sector Mr. Hans Sy, Chairman of the Executive Committee, SM Prime; and, NRC Co-Chair for Government Sec. Delfin Lorenzana, Secretary, Department of National Defense graced the event and delivered welcome messages to the attendees. 

Ms. Mami Mizutori, Special Representative for the United Nations Secretary-General and Head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction delivered the keynote and closing messages to the local government teams. Dr. Rajib Shaw, the Chairperson of UNDRR Science and Technology Advisory Group likewise shared guidance on how to advance evidence-based risk governance.

Usec. Mavel Sacendoncillo, Usec. Ricardo Jalad, Fr. Jose Villarin, and Prof. Ernesto Garilao delivered their reactions to the LGU’s presentations and offered their guidance.

In his welcome message, NRC Convenor Ambassador Roberto Romulo noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has indeed complicated the task of dealing with disasters across all government levels. “If there is a lesson to be learned from the pandemic, it is that it has exposed in stark contrast the difference that good governance can make in successfully combatting the pandemic. So too can good and effective risk governance spell the difference in how countries successfully deal with the consequences of disasters,” said Amb. Romulo.

Meanwhile, NRC Co-Chair for the Private Sector Mr. Hans Sy of SM Prime commended the organization’s work in building a culture of prevention for resilience, noting that these efforts are one of a kind. “NRC has successfully shown us that building strategic private sector engagement and creating pathways for trans-disciplinary approaches are all possible. At the height of the pandemic, NRC had mounted impressive large-scale knowledge-sharing and training webinars featuring subject matter experts, both foreign and local. Those webinars reached hundreds of the populace, teaching, as well as expanding our minds,” said Mr. Sy.

He further honored the participating LGUs as well as their Local Chief Executives, for recognizing their DRR needs and welcoming the enhancement of their leadership and governance through and science and technology.

Ms. Mami Mizutori encouraged NRC and its LGU partners in her keynote address to continue their public-private partnerships to create strong and resilient communities. In closing, she also cited the NRC’s work as a global example of evidence-informed multi-stakeholder partnerships for disaster resilience.

“Disaster Risk governance is no longer a question of managing disasters or responding to the threats posed by a single hazard, we need a multi-hazard and multi-sectoral approach as advocated by the National Resilience Council and Making Cities Resilient 2030 (MCR2030). If done correctly, the success of good disaster risk governance can be measured in the numbers of lives saved and reduction in injury and loss of livelihood, as well as the survival; of critical infrastructure and reduced economical losses. I firmly believe that together, through combined efforts of the NRC and initiatives such as the MCR 2030, we can help expand the option of support in pathways to resilience available in the Philippines and the region so that no one is left behind, no cities left behind, and we can achieve a collective goal of resilient communities by 2030,” Ms. Mizutori conveyed.

The NRC 2020 Colloquium was organized by the NRC with support from the Carlos P. Romulo Foundation for Peace and Development, SM Prime Holdings, Inc., ARISE Philippines, Zuellig Family Foundation, San Miguel Corporation, Alliance Global Group, Inc., PricewaterhouseCoopers Philippines – Isla Lipana & Co., Ateneo de Manila University, Coastal Cities at Risk in the Philippines: Investing in Climate and Disaster Resilience Project, and the Manila Observatory.

For more about the National Resilience Council, visit


Launch of Making Cities Resilient 2030 (MCR2030)

Author: Jeanette Elsworth | Date: October 28, 2020

Core partners of Making Cities Resilient 2030 (MCR2030) officially launched its second phase today, with a global programme to support cities on the road to resilience.

The launch took place during the Daring Cities conference convened by Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI), one of the core partners of the initiative and 1,048 people from 117 countries attended.

H.E. U. Khürelsükh, Prime Minister of Mongolia
  H.E. U. Khürelsükh, Prime Minister of Mongolia

H.E. U. Khürelsükh, Prime Minister of Mongolia, sent a video message to congratulate the Campaign on its success so far and to reconfirm Mongolia’s firm commitment to building resilient cities.

“During my tenure as Deputy Prime Minister of Mongolia, all 22 major cities in Mongolia joined the “Making Cities Resilient” UN Global Campaign in 2017, and I inform you that the Government of Mongolia has fulfilled its commitment to implement Target (e) of the Sendai Framework by 2020, and all our major cities have adopted [and] are implementing local DRR strategies as of today,” confirmed H.E. U. Khürelsükh.

“On behalf of the Government of Mongolia, I commend the successful implementation of the “Making Cities Resilient” United Nations Campaign. Through this campaign, I believe that we have been able to build better community disaster resilience and recognize an importance of local leadership in DRR.”

Speaking at the launch, Mami Mizutori, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction and Head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), said: “To achieve resilience, cities will have to address the underlying drivers of risk, which may include poverty, education, health, environmental degradation, among others. More than anything, a holistic and systems approach to resilience must be adopted by cities.  MCR2030 aims to provide a framework for this approach.”

The goal of MCR2030 is to ensure cities become inclusive, safe, resilient and Sustainable by 2030, contributing directly to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 11 (SDG11) and other global frameworks including the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Paris Agreement and the New Urban Agenda.

Screenshot of speakers at the MCR2030 launch
Speakers at the MCR2030 launch which more than 1,000 people from 117 countries attended virtually

Throughout the launch, speakers and partners highlighted the importance of focusing on urban areas to ensure those goals were met.

Sameh Wabeh, Global Director, Urban, Disaster Risk Management, Resilience and Land Global Practice at the World Bank said: “We know that if we do nothing, about 130 million people will fall into poverty by 2030. Around 70 million of those are in urban areas.”

Tiziana Bonzon, Manager for Climate Migration and Resilience at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) praised the initiative for putting cities at the centre. “Let’s make cities the source of solutions, rather than the source of challenges,” said Ms. Bonson.

At the same time, Kozo Nagami, Director General at the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) recognised the value of resilience as a whole. “Disaster risk reduction is not a cost but an investment in sustainable development,” he said.

Co-created by partners and networks of cities, MCR2030 will offer cities a clear, three-stage resilience roadmap to assessing, planning and implementing risk reduction and resilience-building initiatives. The resilience roadmap will link cities within a peer-to-peer learning environment and communities of practice, supported by access to tools, technical specialists and advisers.

Implementation is focused on three key areas: giving advisory support for improved DRR and resilience planning, climate finance, municipal finance and climate adaptation;

improving coordination between national and local governments and national associations of local governments; and forging strong partnerships at the local level for more efficient implementation.

Recognising that access to finance is one of the biggest hurdles to reducing risk, MCR2030 will also provide a platform to help cities strengthen their ability to access funds and allow cities to find specialist service providers and investors for actions and initiatives. 

MCR2030 builds on the success of the ten-year-old Making Cities Resilient Campaign, which concludes at the end of 2020 and has more than 4,300 city signatories. MCR2030 will run from January 2021 to the end of 2030.

By 2050 most of the world’s population will be urban and cities will be the key setting for ensuring the inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable spaces for citizens. The resilience of cities will be key in accomplishing the Sustainable Development Goals and associated global frameworks.

For more information, you may visit the MCR 2030 official webpage:

Launch of Making Cities Resilient 2030 (MCR2030)


An update from Mami Mizutori, UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction — 16 September 2020

In the newsletter circulated by United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction Mami Mizutori writes about Disaster Risk Governance. We must recognize that the greatest single driver of disaster risk is weak governance and lack of political commitment to invest in reducing disaster risk.

Disaster risk governance has been a constant refrain in my public statements for some months now and I informed the High-Level Panel on Sustainable Development in July that it would be the theme of this year’s International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction on October 13.

It is understandable that disaster management agencies often focus on individual hazards, particularly those which have caused most of the damage based on historical records. However, COVID-19 tells us that this approach must change. It is important that we manage disaster risk with a multi-hazard approach, and with a clear understanding of the systemic nature of risk.

That was a thought I shared at the first meeting of the UNDRR Support Group this year under the new Chair, His Excellency Ambassador Emilio Izquierdo of Ecuador, when we met in early September just days after we issued a press release confirming the theme for this year’s #DRRday.

October 13 is an important opportunity for UN member States, the UN family and other stakeholders to celebrate their efforts to implement the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. This year we are saying that “It really is all about governance” as we recognize that the greatest single driver of disaster risk is weak governance and lack of political commitment to invest in reducing disaster risk.

The reality is that if the benefits of investing in disaster risk reduction were fully realized, we would not be facing a global economic crisis. The world would have responded to the science and the warnings of a pending pandemic with greater international cooperation and the impact of COVID-19 would have been reduced.

This year’s #DRR day is especially significant as the five-year-old Sendai Seven Campaign seeks to raise the profile of the importance of Target (e) which seeks a substantial increase in the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by the end of this year.

This translates into ensuring that we recognise how important it is that we act on a key priority for action of the Sendai Framework “strengthening disaster risk governance to manage disaster risk” as the UN and Member States embark on a Decade of Action intended to see significant progress on achieving the SDGs.

I urge all concerned to make the most of the day to organize events while respecting WHO COVID-19 guidelines and to consult the concept note now available on our website.


COVID-19 continues to grab most of the news headlines understandably. However, recent extreme weather events are a strong reminder that the climate emergency is ever present in a world that is currently on course for 3.2°C rise in temperature with little sign yet of a major commitment to deliver on net zero emissions from the world’s leading industrial nations.

Sudan has seen the Nile River reach its highest levels in 100 years and declared a state of emergency as heavy rainfall disrupts the lives of half a million people, destroying many homes. Back-to-back typhoons have taken many lives in Japan and Korea and caused huge economic losses. Record temperatures have helped to fuel vast wildfires in California.

These events underline why we must continue to closely monitor extreme weather events and ensure that we account for the economic losses they trigger in order to guide politicians and policymakers on where and how to make future investments in order to manage existing levels of risk and to avoid creating new risk.

UNDRR is working with the Belgium-based Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters on a new report on the human cost of disasters which will include a review of extreme weather events in the first twenty years of this century. It will be released on the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction, October 13 #DRRday.

We will also be publishing a guidance note on how to include biological hazards and risks (including pandemics) in national and local strategies for disaster risk reduction along with a Words into Action guide for public review on Nature Based Solutions for disaster risk reduction.


I would like to use this opportunity to promote the first in a series of four webinars which got underway on 15 September examining the case for risk informed investment as a critical element of macro-economic financial stability and the achievement of the SDGs. It will look at examples of where we can draw lessons from progress to date, identify the gaps and explore opportunities to address them. You can register through this link.

I spoke in in the first webinar along with Mr. Steve Waygood, Chief Responsible Investment Officer, Aviva Investors, Ms. Sirpa Pietikäinen, Member of the European Parliament, and Mr. Felix Suntheim, Fiancial Sector Expert, IMF.

This series builds on a report on the integration of disaster risk reduction and climate action into sustainable financing published by UNDRR in 2019 in the European context, and accompanies the development of a new global study to identify concrete actions, evidence and tools to integrate multi-hazard and systemic risk approaches into the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in support of more risk-informed investment and finance.


Following the success of the ARISE (Private Sector Alliance for Disaster Resilient Societies) Annual General Meeting in July, it was very encouraging to see the creation in September of the first national chapter of ARISE in the Arab region. This is an initiative of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and I hope it will mark the beginning of a trend across the region to promote greater involvement of the private sector in the implementation of the Sendai Framework.

Dr. Mahmoud Al-Burai, Vice-President of the International Real Estate Federation, was confirmed as Chair of UAE ARISE and he declared his intention to support the Dubai Resilient project and promised to energize the private sector to achieve the goals of the Sendai Framework. Co-chair is Mr. Ahmed Riad, Managing Director, Estmrarya Consulting, and the Vice Chari is Dr. Tariq Nizami, Founder and CEO of CEO Clubs Network.

Our Regional Office in Cairo has been working hard on this initiative which will be officially launched at the Fifth Arab Partnership Meeting for DRR scheduled for November.

I would like to extend my congratulations to all concerned and wish them every success in the implementation of their future work plan which is well aligned with the four global priorities adopted at the ARISE Annual General Meeting in July: Integrating DRR into financial sector decision making; building the resilience of SMEs; resilient infrastructure; and the role of insurance in disaster risk reduction and resilience.


This year is a pivotal year in many respects. It marks the start of the Decade of Action which the UN Secretary-General has called for in order to transform our world and make the Sustainable Development Goals a reality and to address challenges such as rising greenhouse gas emissions and the COVID-19 pandemic.

And very importantly for UNDRR’s mandate to support implementation of the Sendai Framework, 2020 is the deadline for achieving Target (e): “Substantially increase the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies” which is also a key advocacy focus for this year’s International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction on October 13.

UNDRR Director Ricardo Mena provided a comprehensive overview of progress at the UNDRR Support Group meeting in September. Successes to date include the fact that 93 governments have developed national DRR strategies and there has been an increased effort to build synergies at national level in the implementation of the Sendai Framework, the Paris Agreement and the SDGs. There is also an encouraging trend to integrate biological hazards into DRR strategies following reviews initiated as a result of COVID-19.

Mr. Mena also identified gaps and challenges including that COVID-19 is overstretching the capacity of national DRR organizations. The collection of DRR and climate change data remain a challenge, including disaggregation of data. There is also limited access to data particularly in conflict-affected countries.

Weak risk governance was also highlighted as an area of concern. The Sendai Framework advocates an all-of-society approach to DRR and in many countries there is a limited effort to engage civil society and to create awareness of the increasingly systemic nature of disaster risk and the linkages between DRR and the SDGs. Better guidance is needed on how to build coherence and integration at national and local levels.

I cannot say it too often! It really is all about governance.

I hope that we will continue to see growth in the number of both national and local strategies for DRR and greater alignment with the targets and priorities for action laid out in the Sendai Framework.

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I hope that you will find this update useful and informative.
If you would like more information about UNDRR’s many activities, please do visit and please — stay safe and well.

Launch of the Hazard Definition & Classification Review – Technical Report

The International Science Council (ISC) and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) launched the Hazard Definition & Classification Review – Technical Report to identify the full scope of all hazards relevant to the Sendai Framework and the scientific definitions of these hazards.

You may download the report here:

You may find the recording of the launch below:

An update from Mami Mizutori, UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction — 13 July 2020

In the newsletter circulated by United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction Mami Mizutori writes about the lessons brought about by the COVID crisis: with good governance being at the heart of disaster resilience and the need for better recovery strategies that are climate-conscious and environmentally sustainable.

I have been thinking, writing, and talking a lot about good governance recently and how its absence can drive disaster risk.

COVID-19 has driven home the understanding that without good disaster risk governance it is extremely difficult to manage any other underlying drivers of disaster risk. The most glaring example of this is the continued failure to make progress on tackling the climate emergency, notably the continuing rise in greenhouse gas emissions as we ignore the catastrophe in waiting if we stay on the current path towards 3˚C or more in global warming. I was glad to have the opportunity to announce on the first day of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in my keynote remarks for the ‘Virtual Side Event on Water-related DRR under the COVID-19 Pandemic’ that the focus of this year’s International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction on October 13 will be on disaster risk governance. This is in the context of promoting target E of the Sendai Framework which seeks a substantial increase in the number of national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020.

Failure to act on the science and warnings about the threat of a pandemic were at the heart of the inertia to prepare for COVID-19 in many countries despite the inclusion — at the insistence of UN member States — of biological hazards and risks (including pandemics) in the Sendai Framework five years ago.

Since then only a few national disaster risk reduction strategies have taken pandemics into account, a point I made again during my participation earlier this month in The Economist magazine’s podcast The World Ahead.

You can be rest assured that our Regional Offices are working hard to redress this and to support governments to put in place DRR strategies which recognise the multi-hazard and systemic nature of disaster risk.


Speaking at another event hosted by the HLPF focused on sustaining efforts to switch to sustainable energy, I made the point that there is no doubt that fossil fuels are a major contributor to the alarming levels of increasingly systemic disaster risk across the world.

The five years since the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction was adopted have been the hottest on record, and the number of extreme weather events has almost doubled over the last twenty years.

Many countries are now challenged with responding to extreme weather events such as cyclones, drought and storms while struggling to contain COVID-19. A key guiding principle of the Sendai Framework is to ensure that all new investments are risk-informed to avoid the creation of new disaster risk.

This is especially important for energy sector infrastructure which in turn supports other critical infrastructure on which societies depend.

We need to recover better from the COVID-19 pandemic, and that requires political commitment and ambition to fight climate change, and a wholesale switch to sustainable energy.

We look to the G20 nations, responsible for almost 80% of greenhouse gas emissions, to lead by example.


Work is now underway in UNDRR to pull together the initial learnings we have been able to gather on the response to the COVID-19 pandemic as it currently stands and make it readily accessible in a user-friendly format. We know that the pandemic is far from over but the better we know what has worked well and what hasn’t thus far will help us in tackling the next phases, reducing its impact and recovering faster and better.

In the meantime, you can catch up here on the informative series of webinars that we have been running with partners since the onset of the pandemic.


Mexico is one of the countries hardest hit by COVID-19. Over 30,000 people have lost their lives and there are over 270,000 confirmed cases, in the country which is in a region which has now become the epicentre of the pandemic. Many people are finding it hard to make a living and businesses are struggling to stay afloat as preventive measures are introduced.

UNDRR’s Regional Office for the Americas and the Caribbean has signed a “Resilience Protocol” which is a collaborative agreement with ARISE Mexico and the Confederation of National Chambers of Commerce, Services and Tourism aimed to support micro, small and medium-sized enterprises which are so important to employment.

ARISE Mexico is part of UNDRR’s worldwide Private Sector Alliance for Disaster Resilient Societies (ARISE) which recognizes the need to better integrate risk into business practices and decisions, as well as generate networks of support with different partners like Chambers of Commerce.


UNDRR’s newly appointed Director, Ricardo Mena, delivered a statement to the HLPF under the theme “protecting the planet and building resilience” in which he highlighted the fact that less than half of UN member States have developed national and local disaster risk reduction strategies since the adoption of the Sendai Framework five years ago.

His statement concluded: “Disaster risk governance requires clear vision, plans, competence, guidance and coordination within and across sectors, and full engagement with civil society.

An important way of measuring disaster risk governance is against key targets of the Sendai Framework including reducing loss of life, reducing the numbers of people affected and reducing economic losses.

COVID-19 has been an enormous setback for the efforts of many countries in achieving these targets with serious implications for efforts to achieve the SDGs.

UNDRR urges UN Member States to put in place national and local disaster risk reduction strategies which recognise the fact that disaster risk is systemic in nature and widespread across all sectors and development processes.”

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I hope that you will find this update useful and informative.
If you would like more information about UNDRR’s many activities, please do visit and please — stay safe and well.

Urban resiliency: Key to sustainability in 21st century Philippines

Source: The Philippine Star | Author: Hans T. Sy | Date: May 30, 2020

Filipinos have direct experiences with the devastating effects of climate change.

According to the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), the Philippines ranks fourth among countries worldwide most affected by extreme weather events over a 19-year period, from 1998 to 2017. In terms of disaster risk, the Philippines also ranked high globally – placing third among all other countries, according to the World Risk Report in 2018. Given the archipelagic nature of our country, at least 60 percent of our total land area is exposed to multiple hazards, and as much as 74 percent of our total population – now a little over 100 million – is susceptible to these adverse impacts.

With 25 percent of the people living in Metro Manila, the need to build resilient cities cannot rest on the government alone. The private sector has to do its share in building critical infrastructure to help communities thrive above the effects of climate change.

This became very apparent to me when I saw one of our malls in Pangasinan go under the flood along with the whole town during Typhoon Pepeng (international name: Parma). I realized that resilience is important to our stakeholders – our employees, tenants, customers, suppliers and communities surrounding our malls. I was determined to help our stakeholders bounce back better and stronger.

In the Philippines, the private sector contributes a majority of capital investment on facilities for safety and security, transportation, communication and other services like power and water. As such, private-private public partnership plays a vital role in ensuring the sustainability of cities by ensuring their resiliency against disasters and climate threats.

The private sector can share the role in adopting responsible and sustainable business practices. In particular, businesses should take a closer look at integrating disaster risk reduction into its business models and processes.

In SM, we need a holistic approach to disaster resilience.

First, we integrated disaster risk reduction in our malls, allotting 10 percent of our capital expenditure to disaster resilient features in the design and construction.  We employ disaster risk management methods such as risk assessments, early warning systems, business continuity management systems and continuous efforts for capacity building.

With each event, we have had to assess the impact of climate change against what we prepared for such as during Typhoon Ondoy (international name: Ketsana) and other typhoons, where the higher design elevation of the Mall of Asia complex proved able to withstand the large waves and storm surges. For our future developments, we are using peak disaster events based on data reaching back 100 years or more and providing for buffers even beyond that.

In our malls and property developments such as offices, not easily apparent features such as energy efficiency, waste management and even traffic control measures create substantial positive impact in the overall environmental sustainability and safety of our operations. This in turn contributes to the collective sustainability of the communities we are located in.

Secondly, we had to develop the resilience of our stakeholders especially our tenants. In order to help our tenants and locators preserve data integrity that is vital to their business operations, we have built the first SM Resilience Center in SM Clark, Pampanga as a centralized data and digital information hub and repository. We currently provide free data storage of five gigabytes for around 1,600 SMEs from all around the country that serves as a vital backup during disaster recovery and business continuity. As a result, SMEs can access digitized copies of their contracts, permits, policies and other important documents to help them bounce-back better after a business disruption.

Our malls have also evolved to serve as the modern-day version of the town plaza where residents of our communities gather and converge. Recognizing that our malls are resilient structures that can offer refuge in times of calamities, SM pioneered community services such as free parking and basic shelter during extraordinary natural disasters.

Thirdly, an important approach toward urban resiliency is multi-sectoral cooperation and collaboration. I have taken an active role in UNISDR’s ARISE, a private sector alliance that promotes collaboration towards disaster risk reduction. In support of our commitment to UN ARISE, we engaged with the public sector, in partnership with other colleagues in the business community.

Among the partners we work with are the National Resilience Council, APEC Emergency Preparedness Capacity Building Center, United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction and Global Education and Training Institute, Department of Trade and Industry, and many others. These partnerships not just directly address immediate disaster risk reduction needs but also provide longer-term capacity building and technical assistance to community stakeholders and beneficiaries.

ACHIEVING TRUE RESILIENCE is a COMBINED EFFORT of the government, the private sector and civil society. We in the private sector should do our part in adopting responsible and sustainable business practices to help fortify our urban centers – integrating disaster risk reduction into business models and processes, and making investments that not only translate to financial return but shared value that safeguards the lives and interests of all our stakeholders.

Hans Sy is the chairman of the Executive Committee of SM Prime Holding, Inc. His involvement with the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) was first, as a member, the only Filipino, of its Private Sector Advisory Group, and currently, as an international board member of UNISDR “ARISE” – Private Sector Alliance for Disaster Resilient Societies, a platform for businesses to share knowledge and strategies toward investing particularly in disaster resilience and management.

COVID-19: Opportunities for Resilient Recovery

Date: May 7, 2020 | Source: United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction

United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction – Regional Office for Asia and Pacific (UNDRR Asia Pacific) and United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia (UNESCAP) and the Pacific International Recovery Platform co-organized a webinar on: COVID-19: Opportunities for Resilient Recovery as part of UNDRR Asia-Pacific’s Webinar Series on COVID-19. The webinar was conducted on May 7, 14:00 (Bangkok Time).

As countries continue to meet the immediate needs of the COVID-19 pandemic, the crisis is forcing policymakers to consider the unavoidable trade-offs between saving lives and preserving jobs and livelihoods. Throughout Asia-Pacific, governments are considering options for restarting their economic engines and putting people back to work, including in key sectors that have been most impacted by the pandemic. Experts are considering what recovery might look like once the virus is contained but also how countries can use this recovery opportunity to achieve longer-term resilience goals, including decarbonization of the world economy.

The webinar highlighted lessons learned from past disaster recovery events, and consider how countries can start preparing for a recovery that is climate-sensitive, inclusive, and contributes to global efforts to build more resilient systems that are better placed to prevent such crises in the future.

The full video recording of the webinar may be accessed by clicking here

UNDRR ONEA & GETI and WHO Webinar series

Lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic series: Tools for business continuity in the era of COVID-19: How could businesses prepare for reopening?

May 7, 2020 | 9:00 PM (GMT +8)


Up to 80% of all investment in any given country is coming from the private sector. It is there critical that the private sector engages to make this investment risk-informed. The private sector is a critical participant in the creation of risk-resilient societies. By combining the intellectual (know-how) and capital assets of the private sector with the public sector and other stakeholders solutions will be developed and implemented to achieve the targets of the Sendai Framework by 2030.

At the same time, the COVID-19 situation reveals the challenges of managing health risks while reducing disaster risks. All countries face systemic risks, such as those associated with disease outbreaks, with the potential for very significant socio-economic impacts.


The webinar aims to give business owners the tools to better prepare for and respond to such events. The webinar will share leadership strategies adopted by the private sector to continue business during the COVID-19 situation.


Ms. Chloe Demrovsky-President and CEO of Disaster Recovery Institute International (DRI)

Ms. Liza B. Silerio-Vice President for Corporate Compliance Group, SM Prime Holdings Inc. Philippines

Mr. Jorge Noel Y. Wieneke III- President and founding member of the Association of Filipino Franchisors, Inc.