Disaster risk reduction and the Post-2015 framework for sustainable development

Statement by ILO Director-General Guy Ryder on the occasion of the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (14-18 March 2015 - Sendai, Japan).

Statement | 12 March 2015
The United Nations has a crucial opportunity in 2015 to contribute to reducing the risks created by disasters which can set back the development course of nations, regions and, indeed, the world. When disasters hit, the loss of life is tragic. In addition, millions of working women and men lose and must rebuild their livelihoods every year. As the UN sets and pursues sustainable development goals this year, disaster risk reduction must be an integral consideration.

The Sendai World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction will lay the foundations for an improved system for crisis management in response to the formidable challenges posed by natural and technological hazards. This comes 10 years after the Hyogo Framework for Action, adopted in Kobe in the wake of the humanitarian tragedy provoked by the Indian Ocean tsunami and the ensuing show of unprecedented solidarity.

ILO research and our direct experience have shown that decent work approaches to local economic recovery, based on international labour standards, are key to strengthening socio-economic resilience in the face of multiple hazards. The framework for action to be adopted at Sendai will build on people-centered resilience. An indispensable component of related strategies must be action to secure the jobs and livelihoods that allow people to live in dignity.

Collective preparedness and a stronger, faster capability to respond and recover are essential to disaster resilience. This requires strong communities and the will by all parties to participate and assume responsibility at all levels of society, both in the public and in the private sector, nationally and internationally.

The goal of decent work provides a solid basis on which governments can establish and reinforce the engagement of social partners, businesses and agents of local economic development in disaster risk reduction. Through better regulation, innovative partnerships, specific incentives and mechanisms of cooperation with local communities, this can be done. As actors and beneficiaries, employers, workers and their organizations have a dual role in disaster risk reduction and workplaces are focal points for prevention, mitigation, recovery and rehabilitation strategies.

The ILO is supporting governments and their social partners as they face the consequences of disasters by bringing decent work approaches to strategies for rehabilitation, recovery and reconstruction, as well as for prevention and mitigation, improving preparedness and reducing future vulnerability. Decent jobs, along with the establishment and enlargement of social protection systems have proven their worth as the cement for building strong communities and promoting sustainable local development. They must be supported by appropriate government policies.

Public investments and public service capabilities play a crucial role in reinforcing emergency preparedness. As we plan for disaster risk reduction, let us also remember the role of workers who are in the frontline of disaster response. Often they are public service workers. They, especially first responders, must have proper resources and tools - yet too often they find themselves without vital equipment, adequate training and protection measures.

Realizing the post 2015 development agenda, decent work for all and disaster risk reduction will all require integrated social, economic and environmental strategies. The ILO is committed to contributing to these efforts and to making the Sendai post-2015 Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction a component of its own efforts to promote decent work and sustainable development.

Disaster Risk Reduction in Fiji

As the risks posed by climate change become more prevalent, often the people affected the most have the least capacity to adapt to those risks without help. In Fiji, the ILO's Cash for Work program brought together government, communities and volunteers to help villagers threatened by climate change. The challenge: to move an entire village to higher ground.