Towards Substantially Reduced Disaster Risk in 2030

The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 (Sendai Framework) adopted on 18 March is the first major agreement of the 2015 agenda. Its seven global targets and four priorities for action are highly relevant to WMO. Disaster risk reduction (DRR) is one of the seven priority areas of the Organization. Protecting lives, livelihoods and property is at the core of its mission – thus, WMO will support the Sendai Framework through a wide range of scientific and technical activities.

By WMO Secretariat1

The Sendai Framework was adopted by 187 countries at the Third United Nations (UN) World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) held in Sendai, Japan, from 14 to 18 March, commemorating the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Over 6 500 participants attended the Conference, including representatives from governments, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, the media and National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs).

From 2013 to 2015, WMO and its Members engaged in the consultative processes and negotiations that led to the adoption of the Sendai Framework. These included the 2013 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Regional Platforms and Ministerial Conferences for Disaster Risk Reduction, as well as the three sessions of the Preparatory Committee for WCDRR, the open-ended informal consultative and negotiation meetings and the meetings of the Informal Working Group on Targets and Indicators of the Preparatory Committee. NMHS representatives and WMO staff actively participated and contributed to the discussions at the Conference sessions as well as to the organizing teams that conceptualized and prepared these sessions.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addressing the international DRR community at the opening session of the Third United Nations (UN) World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) (Photo: UNISDR)

The adoption of the Sendai Framework was the main outcome of WCDRR, and was endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly on 3 June. It is the successor instrument to the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters (HFA).


Global targets and priorities for action

The Sendai Framework is built on elements that ensure continuity with the work done by countries and other stakeholders under the HFA. The HFA, in turn, gave further impetus to the global work carried out under the International Framework for Action for the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction of 1989; the Yokohama Strategy for a Safer World: Guidelines for Natural Disaster Prevention, Preparedness and Mitigation and its Plan of Action adopted in 1994; and the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction of 1999.

The Sendai Framework introduces a number of innovations that emerged from the consultations and negotiations. The most significant shifts include: 

  • a strong emphasis on disaster risk management as opposed to disaster management;
  • the substantial reduction of disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods and health, and in the economic, physical, social, cultural and environmental assets of persons, businesses, communities and countries as an expected outcome;
  • a goal focused on preventing the creation of new risks, reducing existing risks and strengthening resilience; and
  • the definition of seven global targets for achieving the expected outcome. 

The panel of the WCDRR Working Session on Integrated Water Resources Management, chaired by WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud in his capacity as the chair of UN-Water (Photo: Jochen Luther/WMO)

Another innovation of this 15-year, voluntary, non-binding agreement is a set of guiding principles. These recognize that each State, with all its institutions, has the primary role to reduce disaster risk but that responsibility should be shared with other stakeholders, including local govern- ments, civil society and the private sector. In addition, the scope of the Sendai Framework has been broadened significantly to focus on both natural and man-made hazards and related environmental, technological and biological hazards and risks. There is also clear recognition of stakeholders and their roles, including the role of the UN System and the strengthening of international cooperation and global partnerships.

Through its four priorities for action, the Sendai Framework articulates:

  • the need for improved understanding of disaster risk in all its dimensions of exposure, vulnerability and hazard characteristics; 
  • the strengthening of disaster risk governance, including national, regional and global platforms for DRR as mechanisms for coherence across agendas, monitoring and periodic reviews as well as accountability for disaster risk management;
  • investing in DRR for resilience including risk-informed donor policies and programmes and financial support and loans from international financial institutions; and 
  • enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response and to “Build Back Better” in recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction, including improved resilience of health infrastructure, cultural heritage and workplaces. 

The Seven Global Targets Outlined in the Sendai Framework

  • 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;
  • 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;
  • Reduce direct disaster economic loss in relation to global gross domestic product by 2030;
  • Substantially reduce disaster damage to critical infrastructure and disruption of basic services,such as health and educational facilities, including through developing their resilience by 2030;
  • Substantially increase the number of countries with national and local DRR strategies by 2020;
  • Substantially enhance international cooperation to developing countries through adequate and sustainable support to complement their national actions for implementation of this framework by 2030; and
  • Substantially increase the availability of and access to multi-hazard early warning systems (MHEWSs) and disaster risk information and assessments by 2030.


Implications for WMO – New opportunities and challenges 

The seventeenth World Meteorological Congress in June 2015 reaffirmed DRR as one of the high-priority areas for WMO, thereby acknowledging the significance of the Sendai Framework for WMO and the new opportunities and challenges it poses for NMHSs.The scope and objectives of the WMO DRR Programme, established in 2003, were aligned with the HFA to support NMHSs in: the provision of hazard information for risk assessments, prevention, response, recovery and risk transfer across sectors; the preparedness through early warning systems (EWSs); the ability to respond to user requirements and the cooperation and engagement in disaster governance structures at all levels. Through this crosscutting Programme, WMO has played an important role in supporting its Members in implementing the HFA. The WMO DRR priority cuts across all the other Organization priorities and contributes to related priority areas such as capacity development and the implementation of the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS).

WMO is now realigning its DRR Programme with the Sendai Framework, while considering the provisions of other global frameworks that are highly relevant to DRR, for example, on sustainable development, climate change, humanitarian assistance and urban issues.

A first step was the decision by Congress and the Executive Council to produce and regularly update a WMO DRR Roadmap. This will guide WMO activities in all components of disaster risk management as well as their further enhancement and coordination across WMO constituent bodies and programmes. The Roadmap is a coordinated organization-wide plan of action with prioritized activities and deliverables. It will be continuously updated and verified for consistency with the WMO Strategic and Operating Plan by its constituent bodies as well as the workplans for related WMO programmes and projects. Furthermore, the Roadmap considers relevant WMO guidelines and documents as well as input from NMHSs’ own DRR roadmaps, frameworks and good practices.

The new Executive Council Working Group on Disaster Risk Reduction created in 2015 will guide the implementation of the WMO DRR priority in the WMO Strategic Plan 2016-2019. By doing so and by committing to the implementation of the UN Plan of Action on DRR for Resilience, WMO will also assist Members to implement the Sendai Framework.

There are a number of provisions in the Sendai Framework, called for by and addressed to States, which are especially relevant to WMO:

  • Promoting the collection, analysis, management and use of relevant data and practical information in line with national circumstances and making use of space and in situ information that results from maintained and strengthened in situ and remotely-sensed Earth and climate observations.
  • Ensuring dissemination of reliable data in an appropriate format and accessibility of non-sensitive information, taking into account the needs of different categories of users (including social and cultural requirements, in particular, gender).
  • Strengthening disaster risk modelling, assessment, mapping, monitoring and multi-hazard early warning systems (MHEWSs) through the strengthening of technical and scientific capacity to capitalize on and consolidate existing knowledge and through developing and applying methodologies and tools.
  • Promoting and improving dialogue and cooperation among scientific and technological communities, the private sector, other relevant stakeholders and policymakers in order to facilitate a science/policy interface for effective decision-making in disaster risk management and for sharing good practices internationally.
  • Strengthening disaster-resilient public and private investments in structural, non-structural and functional disaster risk prevention and reduction measures.
  • Investing in, developing, maintaining and strengthening people-centred, multi-sectoral MHEWSs, including telecommunications systems for hazard monitoring and emergencies, simple and low-cost early warning equipment and facilities, and broadened release channels for warning information that is tailored to different user needs.
  • Promoting the further development of and investment in effective, nationally compatible, regional multi-hazard early warning mechanisms, where relevant, contributing to GFCS, and facilitate the sharing and exchange of information across all countries.
  • Supporting relevant UN entities to strengthen and implement global mechanisms on hydrometeorological issues in order to raise awareness and improve the understanding of water-related disaster risks.
  • Promoting international cooperation for DRR and enhanced coordination of respective strategies of UN entities and other international and regional organizations, especially in developing countries, in particular, the least developed countries, small island developing states, landlocked developing countries and African countries. 


WMO support for implementing the Sendai Framework 

The WMO community has a wide range of services and products on offer for the implementation of the Sendai Framework. But others commitments made at WCDRR, at Congress and in subsequent processes still need to be implemented.

In support of the Sendai Frameworks first Priority for Action, Congress decided to standardize weather, water, climate, space weather and other related environmental hazard information. It also decided to develop identifiers for cataloguing extreme and high-impact weather, water and climate events. These measures will promote interoperability among datasets and facilitate Members’ efforts to assess risks and track climate-related loss and damage. Enhanced capabilities to monitor and model future climate conditions will improve the attribution of extreme weather events to climate change. The capabilities will also facilitate preparedness and adaptation at all timescales and will provide quality assurance of these data, including the official designation/validation of extreme events and archiving of event data and trend indices. WMO continuously improves the quality and quantity of hydrometeorological data through the WMO Integrated Global Observing System, which enables the collection of data from satellites, ocean buoys, aircraft, ships and land-based stations, and related programmes.

Contributing to the second Priority for Action, WMO encourages NMHSs to actively engage in their national disaster risk management and governance and in national, subregional, regional and global platforms for DRR. This can help to clarify the roles and responsibilities of various public- (including NMHSs) and private-sector actors and stakeholders who are providing and benefiting from weather and climate services. WMO advocates for reflecting these roles in national and local regulatory frameworks, planning, budgets, coordination/collaboration and operations, supported by, for example, standard operating procedures and guidelines.

UN Radio interviewed Mr Jarraud on the role of WMO in, and commitment to, implementing the SendaiFramework (Photo: Jochen Luther/WMO)

For NMHSs, the third Priority for Action applies to the maintenance, modernization, integration and further development of core capacities including: (a) operational weather, climate and hydrological observations, information and services to inform risk reduction and adaptation measures and medium-and long-term strategic planning for community resilience in the context of climate change and (b) high-impact weather and climate research, including modelling. WMO is helping Members to access funding and showcase the socioeconomic benefits of weather and climate services and to implement capacity development and demonstration projects. It is also equally important to ensure that investments are materialized in information and communications technologies (ICTs). These ICTs facilitate monitoring of the environment, retrieving and processing vital data, and disseminating and receiving information before, during and after disasters. This is important particularly for early warning where timely evacuation can save thousands of lives. These investments should move beyond hardware requirements and ensure that the human capital of the country is capacitated to develop, operate and maintain such systems. 

The biggest contribution that WMO can make to the implementation of the Sendai Framework is under the fourth Priority for Action. The focus is on supporting the four components of MHEWSs:

  • Analyses and assessment of risks involved;
  • Detection, monitoring, analysis and forecasting the hazards;
  • Dissemination and communication of timely, accurate, actionable, inclusive and authoritative warnings; and
  • Preparedness and response capabilities.

While the first component is dealt with under Priority 1, the second component is supported by the WMO Global Data-Processing and Forecasting System. It involves three World Meteorological Centres and 40 Regional Centres, including Regional Specialized Meteorological Centres, Regional Climate Centres and Regional Drought Management Centres. These centres process data and routinely provide countries with analyses and meteorological forecasts, and support the early warning capacities of NMHSs. Hazard-specific (for example, flash floods, tropical cyclones, coastal hazards or technological hazards) and sector-specific (for example, agriculture, aviation and humanitarian assistance) warning services are supported by WMO programmes through the following: 

  • Strengthening of impact-based forecast and risk-based warning services;
  • Addressing weather, climate, water and environmental issues for improved service delivery for DRR in the sectors of health, agriculture, land transportation and energy, and in megacities and large urban complexes;
  • Promoting people-centred MHEWSs for tropical cyclones and further strengthening the global mechanisms to reduce the disaster risk associated with tropical cyclones;
  • Promoting risk-informed decisions by the aviation community and transportation sector concerned with the impact of airborne dust and particles during volcanic eruptions, wildfires, sandstorms, dust storms and the like, through enhanced information systems and services; and
  • Developing approaches to deal with the emerging challenges and opportunities to access, use and manage Big Data, crowdsourced data and data obtained through social media, particularly those relevant to risk assessment. 

The third component is supported by the WMO Global Telecommunication System that interconnects all NMHSs for the collection and distribution of meteorological and related data, forecasts and alerts, including tsunami and seismic-related information and warnings. This system is being transformed into an overarching WMO Information System that enables systematic access, retrieval, dissemination and exchange of data and information of all WMO and related international programmes. In addition, the Common Alert Protocol provides the international standard for emergency alerting and public warning for all hazards, including those related to weather events, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, public health, power outages and many other emergencies. This Protocol also applies to all media, including communications media ranging from sirens to mobile phones, faxes, radio, television and various web-based communication networks.

During a press conference, WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud proposed to initiate an International Network for Multi-Hazard Early Systems (IN-MHEWS) on behalf of the WCDRR Working Session on Early Warning (above: Xu Tang (WMO), Mr Jarraud, Thomas Silberhorn (Deputy Minister and State Secretary, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany)

For the fourth component, emergency response is suported by WMO, especially on the global level. Through its work with the Inter-Agency Standing Committee, the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System and Copernicus, WMO links weather and climate services to international humanitarian agencies in order to improve humanitarian contingency planning, preparedness and response.

Moreover, as the Sendai Framework emphasizes the importance of international cooperation and multi-stakeholder partnerships for DRR, WMO will seize opportunities for greater engagement in new or reinforced partnerships, projects, funding streams and so forth. Multi-stakeholder partnership is a key strategy of WMO to support its Members, particularly their NMHSs, in strengthening service delivery at all levels. To facilitate effective multi-stakeholder partnerships at national and local levels, WMO will extend technical support in the development of national guidelines and standard operating procedures for multi-agency coordination, for example on MHEWSs, to its Members.

National technical agencies such as meteorological, hydrological, geological and marine services play crucial roles in collecting, analysing and providing hazard and risk information. Their collaboration with disaster risk management agencies, natural and social scientists and the media, for example, is important for making effective use of this information and the services provided. It is also important for supporting risk-informed decision-making and development planning at national and local levels. Thus, NMHSs need to be fully integrated into national disaster risk management systems, with horizontal and vertical partnerships across the various sectors, stakeholders and levels.


WMO International Symposium on Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems and Service Delivery, a side-event attended by some 120 participants, including 18 Permanent Representatives to WMO

Strengthening MHEWSs through partnership and coordination among stakeholders across all sectors and at all levels is important in pursuing a holistic and integrated approach to disaster risk reduction and management. Moreover, because hazards do not respect national boundaries and may overwhelm national capacity, national MHEWSs need to be complemented by regional cooperation frameworks. Regional and international cooperation among nations will ensure harmonization and interoperability of their EWSs and MHEWSs and leverage resources for managing the risks associated with transboundary and large-scale hazards.

Furthermore, WMO will contribute to the development of a number of targeted Sendai Framework implementation guides, for example, on early warning, risk assessment, ecosystem-based DRR and others. WMO has also been providing significant support to the Open-ended Inter- governmental Expert Working Group for the develop- ment of a set of possible indicators and terminology to measure global progress in the implementation of the Sendai Framework, in coherence with the work of the Inter-Agency Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goal Indicators. 


Going forward 

WMO remains strongly committed to one of its highest priorities of substantially reducing disaster risk, and to advancing DRR at all levels by further developing knowledge products, capacity development and demonstration projects, and through collaboration and close coordination with partners and stakeholders. The Sendai Framework is most relevant to the work of WMO and the Organization will fully support its implementation and assist its Members in doing so. 

1 Jochen Luther, Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Services Division


Share this page