Disaster Risk Reduction

Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction

March 20, 2015
Japanese

The Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction was held in Sendai City from March 14 (Sat.) to 18 (Wed.). The overview and a temporary evaluation of the conference are as follows:

1. Overview

(1) Opening Ceremony

Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress attended the Opening Ceremony held on March 14. Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister, Ms. Keiko Okuyama, Mayor of Sendai City, and others delivered opening addresses. Ms. Eriko Yamatani, Minister of State for Disaster Management, was elected as the president of the conference.

(2) Official Plenary Session

At the High Level Segment (March 14), Prime Minister Abe delivered a statement on behalf of the Government of Japan, in which he appealed "Build Back Better" toward a society resilient to disasters and called for the necessity of prior investment in disaster risk reduction, women's leadership and coordination between various actors. Prime Minister Abe also announced the contribution plan of Japan, "Sendai Cooperation Initiative for Disaster Risk Reduction (PDF) Open a New Window," which includes USD 4 billion of financial cooperation and training of 40,000 government officials and local leaders in four years from 2015 to 2018 (outline: attachment 1).

(3) High Level Multi-Stakeholder Partnership Dialogue

Three sessions, "Mobilizing women's leadership in disaster risk reduction," "Risk sensitive investment," and "Inclusive disaster risk management," were held. In the session "Mobilizing women's leadership in disaster risk reduction" (March 14), Prime Minister Abe delivered a keynote speech, in which he stated the importance of roles of women in disaster risk reduction on the basis of the experience in the Great East Japan Earthquake. Moreover, Ms. Sanae Takaichi, Minister for Internal Affairs and Communication, co-chaired the session.

(4) Ministerial Roundtable

Five sessions were held and Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs, attended the session "International Cooperation in Support of a Post-2015 Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction" (March 15) to state that prior investment in disaster risk reduction, global partnership and the human security approach are keys for international cooperation for disaster risk reduction. Moreover, Mr. Akihiro Ohta, Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, attended the session "Reconstructing After Disasters: Build Back Better" (March 15) and gave an explanation on the lessons learned from disasters Japan has experienced such as the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, the Great East Japan Earthquake, and flood disasters and efforts for disaster risk reduction and reconstruction from such disasters.

(5) Public Forum

Many public forums were held (more than 350 symposiums and seminars, more than 200 exhibitions, and more than 100 poster exhibitions) and Mr. Wataru Takeshita, Minister for Reconstruction, attended the "General forum" while Ms. Haruko Arimura, Minister in Charge of Women's Empowerment, attended the public forum "Women's leadership in disaster risk reduction."

(6) Closing Ceremony

On March 18, the final day of the conference, "Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 (PDF) Open a New Window" (outline: attachment 2), a new international guiding principle for disaster risk reduction, which succeeds the Hyogo Framework for Action, and the "Sendai Declaration (PDF) Open a New Window" (attachment 3) indicating political commitments of each country to disaster risk reduction, were adopted before closing of the conference.

(7) Bilateral Meetings

Prime Minister Abe held meetings with leaders from 10 countries and Secretary-General of the United Nations respectively and also received joint courtesy calls respectively from vice-presidents of six countries and leaders of seven international organizations. Moreover, Prime Minister Abe held a lunch meeting with leaders of 24 countries and four international organizations. In addition, Foreign Minister Kishida held meetings with foreign ministers from 10 countries, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, and leaders from two international organizations, respectively, and held a working dinner with vice-presidents and deputy prime ministers from six countries and also a lunch meeting with leaders of 17 international organizations.

(8) Other

In the evening of March 14, the Government of Japan hosted a reception, in which Prime Minister Abe and his wife and Foreign Minister Kishida participated. Moreover, in the evening of March 15, Sendai City hosted a reception. From March 14 to 20, study tours and excursions in the vicinity of the area affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake were held.

2. Evaluation

  • (1) 185 United Nations member states attended this conference. More than 6,500 participants were in attendance with more than 100 ministerial-level officials including Heads of State of seven countries, prime ministers of five countries (including Japan), vice-president-level officials from six countries, deputy prime ministers from seven countries. Including the related events, a total of 150,000 from both Japan and abroad participated in the conference to make this the largest-ever UN-related international conference held in Japan (largest-ever in terms of the participating countries). The conference obtained political commitments from the international community to disaster risk reduction, which is a significant achievement to mainstream disaster risk reduction.
  • (2) The "Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030" and the "Sendai Declaration" were adopted by consensus. In the new international guiding principle for disaster risk reduction, ideas suggested by Japan such as the importance of investment in disaster risk reduction, commitment by various stakeholders, and the concept of "Build Back Better" were included. Moreover, necessity to include a viewpoint of disaster risk reduction into the post-2015 development agenda, which is scheduled to be adopted in September this year, was confirmed.
  • (3) Prime Minister Abe announced the "Sendai Cooperation Initiative for Disaster Risk Reduction" as Japan's contribution plan and showed his attitude to further contribute to the international community through utilization of Japan's advanced knowledge and technology concerning disaster risk reduction. Such contribution was highly appreciated. For example, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, stated in his press conference that Japan's assistance is a model for other developed countries. Japan's knowledge and technology concerning disaster risk reduction were actually transmitted through public forums and other events.
  • (4) Since the conference was held in Sendai City, one of the areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake, the conference provided an opportunity to spread the reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake with cooperation from the surrounding local governments. Specifically, food and liquors produced in the disaster-affected areas were actively provided in the lunch and dinner meetings hosted by the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister and at the receptions hosted by the Government of Japan and Sendai City to counter harmful rumors and to contribute to the reconstruction of disaster-affected areas. Moreover, it became possible to transmit the current condition and reconstruction of the disaster-affected areas through study tours carried out by each local government in the vicinity of Sendai City.
(Reference) Summary of itinerary of Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs
  Prime Minister Abe Foreign Minister Kishida
March 14 (Sat.)
  • Meeting with U.N. Secretary-General
  • Audience with Their Majesties Emperor and Empress
  • Opening Ceremony (delivered an address)
  • High Level Segment (delivered a statement)
  • Summit meetings (Thailand and Turkmenistan)
  • High level lunch meeting hosted by the Prime Minister
  • High Level Multi-stakeholder Partnership Dialogue "Mobilizing women's leadership in disaster risk reduction" (keynote speech)
  • Summit meetings (Swaziland, Vanuatu, and Rwanda)
  • Joint courtesy call by vice-presidents (Indonesia, Ghana, Zambia, Burundi, Viet Nam, and South Sudan)
  • Reception hosted by the Government of Japan
  • Japan-France lunch meeting
  • Meeting / courtesy call (Indonesia, Pakistan, Switzerland, Singapore and UNITAR)
  • Reception hosted by the Government of Japan
  • Dinner meeting with vice-presidents and deputy prime ministers (Ghana, South Sudan, Laos, Turkey, Mongolia and Tonga)
15 (Sun.)
  • Summit meetings (Tanzania, Zimbabwe)
  • Joint courtesy call by leaders of international organizations
  • Summit meeting (Micronesia)
  • Japan-Cambodia luncheon summit meeting
  • Summit meeting (Kiribati)
  • Meetings (U.N. Secretary-General, WFP, Kenya, Nepal, Malawi, and Viet Nam)
  • Lunch meeting with leaders of international organizations
  • Ministerial Roundtable "International Cooperation in Support of a Post-2015 Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction" (delivered a statement)
  • Foreign Ministers' meeting (Fiji)
  • Visit to Sendai (exhibitions and facilities)