Sustainable Development and Community Resilience

United Nations, New York Headquarters, 9 January 2014

Mr. Marcus Oxley opened the discussion on sustainable community resilience by asking member states and the United Nations body to help strengthen community resilience against the negative impacts of soil erosion and land degradation. He further explained the results of shock and stress on the earth having a negative impact on climate change. Mismanaged urbanization and resource management have left the poorest and most vulnerable people in a devastating position. Ms. Margaret Barahaihi opened her statements by advocating for small-scale disaster management. She elucidates that vulnerable people, who have no access to basic needs, tend to suffer more during small scale disasters. She suggested long term programs and flexibility, while still taking into account the environmental uncertainty. She also suggested that women and children be at the center of decision-making. Dr. Barahaihi closed her statements by saying, “Central government involvement is critical to improvement.”

Ms. Diah Saminarsh was keen to align her statements with Ms. Barahaihi on the issues of small-scale disasters in poor countries. She suggested that poverty and inequality push people to take shelter in places that are risky, for example: hillsides, marginal lands, and floodplains. She explained that even though developed countries have more to lose financially during natural disasters, the disasters take a deeper toll in developing countries. For example, the 2011 earthquake in Japan was the most expensive natural disaster in history. It cost Japan $200 billion dollars which equals to 3% of Japan’s GDP; while the earthquake in Haiti has been estimated to cost around $15 billion dollars, which is equivalent to 160% of Haiti’s GDP. Ms. Saminarsh gave some final seeds of resilience including social cohesion, integration of local wisdom, and critical awareness.

haiti_time_z_01Ms. Hiller from Oxfarm opened with a compelling argument by saying that disasters derail development. She used UN research statistics to prove her point, saying that over the past 20 years, disasters from natural hazards have affected 4.4 billion people, claimed 1.3 million lives, and caused $2 trillion USD in economic losses. She complains that governments have failed to adequately prioritize and invest in good risk management of disasters. Unsuitable development such as unplanned urbanization is a key driver of an increasing disaster risk. Her proposed solution was to invest in disaster risk reductions, build the peoples resilience, while also reducing the impact of disasters on the lives and livelihoods of the most vulnerable. She proposed integrating the principles of community resilience into the post 2015 development framework. These principles include: participation, inclusion, learning, self-organization, accountability, responsiveness, collaboration, partnerships, and living within social and environmental boundaries.

Meeting Title: Risk-proofing the SDG’s: why development will not be sustainable without building community resilience

Key Speakers: Chair, Marcus Oxley, Director, Global Network for Disaster Reduction; Margaret Barahaihi, Africa Climate Change Resilience Alliance Coordinator, Uganda; Diah Saminarsh, Assistant President’s Special Envoy on MDGs, Office of President’s Special Envoy on MDG’s, Indonesia; Hepi Rahmawati, Program Manager, YAKKUM Emergency Unit Indonesia; Debbie Hillier, Humanitarian Policy Adviser, Oxfam, Representative of Act Alliance.

Written by WIT Representative: Modou Cham

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