Closing Ceremony Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction for the Arab States
Closing Remarks of Mami Mizutori, Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction
11 November 2021
Your excellency Mr. Mohammed Faouzi, Under Secretary-General of the Ministry of Interior, Kingdom of Morocco, and the Chair of the Fifth Arab Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction,
Your excellency Dr. Kamal Hassan Ali, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Affairs, League of Arab States,
Ministers and representatives of Arab States,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Today we conclude the Fifth Arab Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction.
For four days and throughout 25 sessions, 16 countries and more than 100 experts and 500 participants gathered in a ministerial-level, multi-stakeholder, inclusive, innovative, and interactive platform.
Thank you again to our host, the Government of the Kingdom of Morocco.
I also extend our appreciation to the League of Arab States, who organized this event with the UNDRR Regional Office for Arab States.
And many thanks to all of you. Your participation and boundless energy have made this a very productive event.
Allow me now to point to some of the highlights.
Firstly, we saw the adoption of the Rabat Declaration for Disaster Risk Reduction. This is a milestone.
The Declaration embodies the political commitment of governments to advancing the work of disaster risk reduction. We expect it will be put into action:
to prevent and reduce risk in the region;
to accelerate the implementation of the Sendai Framework and the Arab Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction 2030;
to serve as a reference for monitoring progress;
to increase regional cooperation
and boost government investments in disaster risk reduction.
Another clear achievement has been the launch of the first Regional Assessment Report for Arab States.
The Report is proof that the Arab Region is intent on following a resilient development path. I trust it becomes a ‘go-to-guide’ for governments, policy experts, disaster risk reduction practitioners and all stakeholders in the Arab region.
It maps out the way forward, which includes the following steps:
Collecting and understanding the data on disaster losses and the main drivers of disaster risk across the region, including climate change, and migration;
Building the leadership of vulnerable populations and engaging them in the work of disaster risk reduction;
Engaging vulnerable population groups;
Building capacity where needed;
Reviewing and reforming existing policies, laws, plans, and budgets in key areas to strengthen disaster risk governance;
Investing in well-designed, sustainably financed, and scalable community-based pilots.
The Platform’s next big achievement is a set of renewed voluntary action statements on implementing the Sendai Framework and the Arab Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction 2030.
And finally, a prioritized Plan of Action (2021-2024) for the Arab Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction 2030 was agreed upon. The Plan of Action offers clear direction for the short term.
Each one of these achievements is valuable on its own.
Together, they will significantly help to accelerate the implementation of the Sendai Framework in the Arab Region.
Yet while we know significant progress has been made, we know that much remains to be done.
There is a great need for scaled-up funding to support the implementation of national and local strategies for disaster risk reduction and to meet the challenge of adaptation to climate change.
The UN Environment Programme’s Adaptation Gap Report published last week estimates that adaptation costs in developing countries are five to ten times greater than current public adaptation finance flows, and the adaptation finance gap is widening.
There are signs also that the expected green COVID-19 recovery is in danger of becoming a lost opportunity to finance climate adaptation and build resilience to future disasters. Less than one-third of 66 countries studied explicitly funded COVID-19 measures to address climate risks up to June 2021.
It is also the case that very little disaster-related Official Development Assistance goes towards disaster risk reduction projects before a disaster strikes and that most of this spending goes towards response and recovery.
This must change.
We have to put the accent on prevention and building back better in the context of the large stimulus packages being made available for the COVID-19 recovery.
Well-designed and targeted plans of action such as the one adopted by this Regional Platform deserve to be supported if the region is to reduce its disaster losses in the coming years.
As I said on the opening day, the discussions and outcomes of this Regional Platform will inform the Mid-Term Review of the Sendai Framework and feed into the sessions of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction which will take place next May in Indonesia.
I hope to meet many of you there.
Thank you once more for your participation.