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Building resilience

Disaster risk reduction and resilience

Australia’s new International Development Policy commits Australia to build regional resilience by supporting partner governments and communities in our region to lead their own climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction efforts.

What is the Sendai Framework?

In 2015 United Nations (UN) Member States, including Australia, agreed on the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 - the global blueprint for building the world's disaster resilience. It was adopted alongside the Paris Agreement  and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)  to address pressing global challenges, recognising the need for coherence across these efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda.

The Sendai Framework guides Australia's approach to disaster risk reduction, both domestically in Australia (led by the National Emergency Management Agency) and internationally through Australia's overseas development assistance program.

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What did the Midterm Review of the Sendai Framework achieve?

The Report of the Midterm Review of the Implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 confirmed that the world is off track to achieve the Sendai Framework global targets by 2030 – further threatening our region's resilience and the achievement of the 2030 Agenda. Australia's Voluntary National Report informed both the global midterm review reports and Australia's Second National Action Plan for disaster risk reduction.

Australia was pleased to co-facilitate (with Indonesia) negotiations on the political declaration of the high-level meeting on the midterm review of the Sendai Framework, reaffirming Member States' commitment to the full implementation of the Sendai Framework by 2030. The political declaration was adopted by consensus at the UN General Assembly in New York on 18 May 2023. It secured Member States' commitment to deliver risk-informed sustainable development, access to funding (including disaster risk financing and anticipatory action), capacity building and improved collaboration, coordination, and disaster risk governance.

The Midterm Review Report also affirmed the need to develop a 'Gender Action Plan’ for the Sendai Framework that would help accelerate implementation to 2030. The Gender Action Plan to Support Implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 (Sendai GAP) seeks to advance gender-responsive disaster risk reduction and support women's empowerment and leadership. The Sendai GAP was launched at the sixty-eighth Commission on the Status of Women on 18 March 2024 and identifies priority (voluntary) actions to accelerate gender-responsive implementation to 2030.

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What is disaster risk reduction?

Disaster risk reduction (DRR) is aimed at preventing new and reducing existing disaster risks as well as managing residual risk. DRR contributes to strengthening resilience and the achievement of risk-informed sustainable development. Every 1 dollar invested in DRR can save up to 8 dollars in post disaster recovery and loss.1

How do disasters impact our region?

The Indo-Pacific region is one of the most disaster-prone regions in the world. Australia is working alongside our neighbours to build the resilience of our region by strengthening preparedness, improving disaster response systems, and making risk-informed decisions for long-term economic planning. Pacific communities have developed well-honed resilience to hazards over generations, but the social and economic impacts are being compounded by increasingly frequent disasters linked to climate change.

The Indo-Pacific region has made progress in developing resilience to disasters, but it has been incremental. Ongoing efforts are needed to build the local, national and regional governance systems and institutions necessary to incentivise, monitor and enforce risk-informed development.

Recent disaster events:

In 2022, our Indo-Pacific region experienced:

  • In Vanuatu, Tropical Cyclones (TCs) Judy and Kevin (March 2023), that impacted an estimated 250,000 people (around 80 per cent of the population) and caused widespread damage to infrastructure, houses, crops, and energy and communications networks. Vanuatu Government's Post Disaster Needs Assessment estimates the cost of loss and damage to be USD433 million.
  • In 2022, the powerful eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai undersea volcano and the ensuing tsunami that led to significant ashfall and flooding in Tonga, causing loss of life and major damage to infrastructure, as well as displacing almost 3,000 people.
  • In Indonesia (West Java Province), lives were lost due to the 5.6 magnitude earthquake that occurred in 2022. 22,000 homes were damaged and 58,000 people displaced. Another 6.1 magnitude earthquake hit the province a month later causing more damage.
  • In Australia, catastrophic floods in 2022 impacted the northern and eastern region with more than 20,000 homes and businesses flooded in Queensland, and more than 5,000 homes damaged in New South Wales following heavy rains and flooding in February and March. Further flooding continued in the country with 15,000 people displaced in Victoria.
  • In 2019-20 the Australia Black Summer bushfires were the worst on record, burning through 24 million hectares of land, claiming lives, and destroying ecosystems, homes and livelihoods. Further information on Australia's domestic climate and disasters risks through the National Emergency Management Agency website.

Why does Australia provide aid for disaster risk reduction?

Disasters undermine efforts to build prosperity, stability and resilience - claiming lives, disrupting essential services, eroding assets, undoing hard-won development gains and increasing inequality and poverty. Investing in disaster risk reduction is essential to saving lives, but also to protect health, livelihoods, services, ecosystems and infrastructure - all  critical to achieving the SDGs.

We are in a new era of disaster risk management, facing complex and interconnected systemic challenges. With increasing strategic competition in the region, our region's security and resilience will be best enhanced when we work together, when we listen and respond to Pacific-led priorities, and when we respect Pacific institutions and peoples. Effective disaster risk reduction minimises the human and economic losses that can set back a country's development progress. It also reduces the need for external assistance and the chance of displacement.

Globally, for every US$100 of disaster-related official development assistance (ODA), only 50 cents is invested in protecting development from the impact of disasters (International Cooperation in Disaster Risk Reduction: Target F, Report 2021).

Between 2010 and 2021, people in the Asia Pacific region were displaced more than 225 million times due to disasters triggered by natural hazards (Asian Development Bank, 2022). Australia's total contribution to disaster risk reduction through Australia's development program has consistently exceeded the target of 1 per cent of ODA since it was recommended at the 2009 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction.

How does Australia support countries to reduce disaster risk?

Australia works with partner countries in the Indo-Pacific, and particularly our Pacific Island neighbours, to help improve resilience to disasters, including:

  • Assisting partner governments to meet their global commitments under the Sendai Framework and committing to locally-led action.
  • Ensuring women and girls, people with disabilities, young people, the elderly, Indigenous Peoples and individuals of all communities are involved in decision making on risk-informed development and disaster risk reduction is essential.
  • Working to ensure essential infrastructure is climate and disaster resilient, including through our support to the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure and its Infrastructure for Resilient Island States initiative.
  • Strengthening disaster risk financing mechanisms in the region and integrating anticipatory action into policy, financial and operating systems to strengthen disaster preparedness and response, and to save lives, protect assets, strengthen adaptive social protection mechanisms, and safeguard development gains. 
  • Supporting the integration of inclusive anticipatory prevention in policy, financial and operating systems to strengthen disaster preparedness and to save lives, protect assets, and safeguard development gains, including through development programs, multilateral humanitarian partnerships and through the Australian Humanitarian Partnership and Disaster READY.
  • Connecting high quality climate and geo-hazard data with decision-making for resilient development through the Australia Pacific Climate Partnership.
  • Working with the UN Women to grow the Women's Resilience to Disasters (WRD) Program to empower women in Fiji, Kiribati, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands to lead Pacific solutions to disaster risk reduction, prevention, preparedness and recovery.
  • Supporting the Women's International Network on Disaster Risk Reduction (WINDRR), in partnership with UNDRR to enhance women's roles in decision making and empower them to attain leadership.
  • Contributing to global pooled funding mechanisms, such as the UN's Central Emergency Response Fund and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Disaster Relief Emergency Fund, UNDRR and the World Bank's Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery.
  • Supporting science, technology, and indigenous knowledge to ensure hazard mapping, modelling, climate projections, forecasting and multi-hazard early warning systems to inform locally led disaster risk reduction planning, preparation, response and recovery.

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1 Humanitarian Strategy 2016 Report; The Global Assessment Report 2015; International Journal of DRR 2014

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