Adopting 3 Texts, General Assembly Appropriates Extra Funding of $14.59 Million to Maintain Peacekeeping Missions in Abyei, Golan, South Sudan
Speakers Outline Plans to Protect Future Generations as Delegates Resume Review of Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030
Stressing the urgency of managing the risks of natural and man-made disasters to protect future generations, the General Assembly today resumed its review of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 after adopting three resolutions that will deliver nearly $15 million to the special accounts of three peacekeeping missions.
The three consensus resolutions, approved by the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) at its 24 May meeting, will help keep two peacekeeping missions in Africa and one in the Middle East running smoothly until the end of June. Together, the texts provide $14.59 million in additional funding for the missions’ 2022/23 fiscal year.
By the terms of the text “Financing of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei” (document A/77/890), the Assembly decided to appropriate an additional $8.51 million for the Force’s maintenance until the end of June, on top of the $259.66 million already allocated for that fiscal year through its resolution 76/281. By the text “Financing of the United Nations peacekeeping forces in the Middle East: United Nations Disengagement Observer Force” (document A/77/891), it decided to appropriate an extra $1.03 million for that Force’s maintenance through June, on top of the $64.54 million it previously allocated for 2022/23 by its resolution 76/289. Similarly, through the terms of “Financing of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan” (document A/77/892), the Assembly appropriated $5.05 million for that Mission’s maintenance until June’s end, on top of the $1.12 billion it already allocated under its resolution 76/291.
After a two-day, high-level meeting held at United Nations Headquarters earlier this month, delegates took to the General Assembly Hall again and renewed their commitment for collective action to curb the loss of lives and property from floods, earthquakes, pandemics and other disasters by the Framework’s 2030 target date. Delegates agreed the need for action at the global, national and local levels is only accelerating as many vulnerable, developing countries struggle to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
At the meeting’s opening day on 18 May, delegates had adopted by consensus a political declaration reiterating the Framework’s call to substantially limit risk and loss while acknowledging that conventional approaches are no longer sufficient. (For background, see Press Release GA/15202).
Amery Browne, Minister for Foreign and Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Affairs of Trinidad and Tobago, said that since the adoption of the Sendai Framework in 2015, the Caribbean region has been pummelled with greater frequency by natural disasters of increased severity. The outcome has produced severe economic and development setbacks for people, particularly women and girls. Yet financing remains elusive as the slew of natural disasters, along with the pandemic, has reduced Government revenue. At the same time, many developing countries, particularly small island developing States, face rising debt levels and are frequently denied access to international financing that can help them recover and create resilience.
He said the international community cannot continue business as usual if it is serious about not leaving anyone behind. The lessons learned from this midterm review must be transferred into urgent and concrete actions. “Resilience is not the absence of risk, but the ability to make progress every day in spite of it,” he said.
Echoing that concern, Colombia’s delegate stressed that until the international community takes transformative action to mitigate the climate crisis, it will not meet the Sendai Framework’s goals. “Most disasters have a female face,” she said, adding that women and girls are more likely to die in disasters than men and are more vulnerable during post-disaster situations and humanitarian emergencies. In addition, Indigenous peoples’ adaption and resilience should be grounded in a holistic approach that preserves harmony with nature.
Namibia’s delegate also drew attention to the socioeconomic consequences of disasters. Climate change will amplify the uneven distribution of disaster risk, further exacerbating poverty, he said, cautioning that this can spark migration swells that could affect peace and security over the long term. Stand-alone approaches to reducing climate and weather hazards are unlikely to be effective if they don’t consider underlying factors.
Haiti’s delegate — whose country is also vulnerable to disasters and has the unfortunate distinction of having the grimmest record of deaths in the wake of a disaster over the past 20 years — pointed out that natural disasters strike the poorest the hardest. In that regard, strengthening resilience is essential to protect people, their livelihoods and their meagre assets. To that end, Member States have a collective duty to strengthen governance, reduce disaster risk and build resilience.
To help thwart disasters before they can occur and mitigate the consequences of unavoidable events, many Governments are intent on developing national and local plans, programmes and agencies.
Papua New Guinea, for example, has created a Vision 2050 development road map and successive medium-term development plans that make disaster risk reduction a key priority, said the Pacific Ocean delegate. He said his country’s high vulnerability to natural disasters, including earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic activity, cyclones and droughts, is just compounded by the adverse impact of climate change and rising sea-levels. The country’s National Disaster and Risk Reduction Framework 2017-2030 also lays down the basis for the country’s disaster risk reduction work, led by its National Disaster Centre. He underscored the importance of local communities and faith-based organizations’ participation, with special attention paid to the role of women and youth in disaster risk reduction activities.
Along similar lines, Nauru’s delegate highlighted his country’s substantive progress since the signing of the Sendai Framework, especially in terms of strengthening disaster risk governance. The risk to Nauru’s existence due to sea level rise, the increased intensity and frequency of storm surges and increased incidence of prolonged periods of drought are a stark reality. “Our ability to access sustainable financing thus determines our ability to deliver on the priorities articulated in the Sendai Framework,” she stressed, calling on the international community to create tailored financing solutions for small island developing States.
The representative of Chile said the South American nation in 2020 formalized a 2020-2030 national strategic plan that incorporates elements of sustainable development, climate action and humanitarian action into its risk management policy. In 2021, a national disaster prevention and response system was created that aims to manage all stages of disaster from the local to national level. A national platform set up in 2012, for example, brings together 200 private and public bodies, including representatives from academia and civil society. This model has been replicated in 16 regional platforms while progress is being carried out to ensure hundreds of municipalities have their own municipal emergency or disaster risk reduction plan. So far, 65 municipalities have plans in place. “We share challenges and can work together to identify the topics of convergence and put science and technology at the service of people,” she said, pointing to the importance of early warning systems.
In the same vein, the speaker for Cambodia said the country’s National Action Plan for Disaster Risk Reduction 2019-2023 has been implemented in line with the Sendai Framework. Some of Cambodia’s latest measures to boost its preparedness for disaster risk include, inter alia, the construction of evacuation centres in six flood-prone provinces, development of platforms for real-time impact and situation monitoring application and 16 additional national search and rescue teams. Despite the significant progress, Cambodia urgently requires more modern technologies to effectively deal with natural calamities.
As a mountainous landlocked country, Bhutan remains vulnerable to various climate-induced floods, landslides, earthquakes and wildfires. The country has developed a legal and institutional framework for disaster risk reduction by promulgating a Disaster Management Act and has developed national guidelines to integrate disaster risk reduction into development policies. Investing in disaster-resilient infrastructure and building community resilience is a priority for his country, he said, calling for financial assistance, as Bhutan prepares to graduate from least developed country status.
Several delegates said unilateral coercive measures create hurdles for countries intent on implementing national plans for disaster risk reduction and response. Recalling the landslides and floods that struck Venezuela in October 2022, Venezuela’s delegate pointed to the Government’s efforts despite “the so-called sanctions” imposed by the United States. The Governments of Chile, Syria and Türkiye have acknowledged the effectiveness of Venezuela’s teams deployed in those countries, she said, asking how much more the country could do if it weren’t subject to economic, trade and financial sanctions.
The representative of Belarus said she regretted that the political declaration did not reflect the unacceptability of unilateral coercive measures. Resilience against natural catastrophes calls for international and regional cooperation. Unilateral sanctions limit such cooperation and threaten people and States that are at a higher risk of natural disasters. Echoing that concern, Nicaragua’s delegate also called for an end to unilateral coercive measures, noting that many of these are aimed at developing countries. His country puts “people, family and community” at the heart of all its disaster risk reduction policies, he said.
Syria’s delegate emphasized that the cross-border nature of disasters requires collective efforts to manage and reduce the risks. The Sendai Framework aims to manage the risks before they take place, yet this requires funding and digital transformation. Syria, he said, is deprived of these essential elements due to unilateral coercive measures, which are imposed with complete indifference to their impact on people’s need to improve resilience to disasters. Syria recently suffered a devastating earthquake, resulting in thousands of victims and destroyed infrastructure, he recalled, asking: “How many deaths could have been avoided if Syria had had access to the necessary rescue equipment?”
Cautioning that hard-won development gains are at risk of being swept away, Türkiye’s representative said the earthquakes her country experienced in February were so massive that no State could have overcome such a disaster alone. Stressing the significance of disaster preparedness, she said those earthquakes demonstrated how essential the Government’s recent focus on disaster risk management was to its response. The Government had updated and implemented several risk reduction plans; developed an integrated alarm warning system which allowed citizens to transmit data via their smartphones during the disaster; and launched a seismometer network to monitor fault lines. While the recovery and reconstruction process will be a long journey, her country will not simply rebuild destroyed structures and replace losses, but rather aims to build back better, greener and smarter with disaster resilience and energy efficiency at the core, she said.