World Ministerial Conference on Disaster Reduction in Tohoku
Overview and Evaluation
July 4, 2012
The World Ministerial Conference on Disaster Reduction in Tohoku was held on July 3rd and 4th.(Chair's Summary)
The plenary sessions were held in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture. On July 4th, three breakout sessions were held in Ichinoseki City of Iwate Prefecture, Ishinomaki City of Miyagi Prefecture and Fukushima City of Fukushima Prefecture. The Conference was hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cabinet Office, Reconstruction Agency, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and co-hosted by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), United Nations Office for the Coordination for the Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), Iwate Prefecture, Miyagi Prefecture, Fukushima Prefecture, Sendai City, Ichinoseki City, Ishinomaki City and Fukushima City.
A number of side events [PDF] were organized by the public and private sectors, academia and civil society.
1 Evaluation of the Conference
- (1) Every year, about 200 million people are affected by natural disasters and citizens of developing countries account for 90% of the victims. Economic losses of natural disasters on average exceed 100 billion dollars per year. Against this backdrop, the international community reaffirmed the significance of efforts for disaster reduction; it expressed its political commitment to mainstreaming disaster reduction and building resilient societies. Main elements of mainstreaming of disaster reduction and building resilient societies were identified, including the concept of human security with emphasis on special consideration for vulnerable groups such as the elderly, women and disadvantaged persons; effective combination of structural (hard) measures and non-structural (soft) measures; and broad partnership transcending barriers between central and local governments, between the public and private sectors and between differences of regions which stakeholders belong to. Thus, the Conference proposed “disaster reduction in the 21st century.”
- (2) The Hyogo Framework for Action, which serves as international guidelines for disaster reduction, and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which serve as the international navigation compass in development, will both come to the end of their terms in year 2015. The direction of future disaster reduction in the international community was crystallized as incorporating disaster reduction in post-2015 development framework and establishing an effective post-Hyogo Framework for Action.
- (3) Japan expressed its determination to lead international efforts for disaster reduction. Japan expressed its commitment to providing 3 billion dollars for three years starting in 2013. The Conference provided an opportunity for many foreign dignitaries to visit disaster-stricken area which is making hardest efforts for reconstruction.
Representatives from 63 countries (high-level participants including Foreign Ministers and Ministers in charge of disaster reduction attended among others) 14 representatives from international organizations, as well as the representatives from international and domestic NGOs, the private sector and civil society participated in the Conference. In total, about 500 people participated in the Conference.
The participants from Japan include the following: Mr. Yoshihiko Noda, Prime Minister of Japan; Mr. Koichiro Gemba, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Tatsuo Hirano, Minister for Reconstruction, Minister for Comprehensive Review of Measures in Response to the Great East Japan Earthquake; Mr. Masaharu Nakagawa, Minister of State for Disaster Management; Mr. Ryuji Yamane, Parliamentary Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs; Mr. Ken Okuda, Parliamentary Senior-Vice Minister of Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport; Mr. Izumi Yoshida, Parliamentary Senior Vice-Minister for Reconstruction Agency; Mr. Shogo Tsugawa, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Reconstruction Agency; Ms. Kazuko Koori, Parliamentary Secretary of Cabinet Office; Mr. Yuhei Sato, Governor of Fukushima; Mr. Shuichi Miura, Vice-Governor, Miyagi Prefecture; Mr. Osamu Katsube, Mayor of Ichinoseki-City; Mr. Hiroshi Kameyama, Mayor of Ishinomaki-City; Mr. Takanori Seto, Mayor of Fukuchima-City; and Mr. Yukimoto Ito, Vice Mayor of Sendai City.
3 Summaries of the Discussions(programs)
Tuesday, July 3rd
(1) Opening Ceremony
- Prime Minister Noda stated in his opening remarks that Japan will share its knowledge and lessons learned from the Great East Japan Earthquake and continue its contribution to the international community, not in the least to reciprocate the support Japan received, committing three billion dollars for three years starting in 2013.
- Foreign Minister Gemba mentioned in his welcoming remarks on behalf of the co-hosts that we need to mainstream disaster reduction and build resilient societies as well as the realization of human security through “full-cast” efforts.
- UNDP Administrator Clark said in her remarks that the experiences of Japan offer a lot to the international community and that we should truly weld disaster reduction and development efforts.
(2) Keynote Speeches
- Minister Hirano explained the damage caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake and the current situations of reconstruction efforts. Foreign Minister Peiris of Sri Lanka, Minister Brownlee of New Zealand and students from Onagawa Daiichi Junior High School shared their experiences and lessons learned respectively from the earthquake off the coast of Sumatra and tsunami in the Indian Ocean, the earthquake in the southern island of New Zealand and the Great East Japan Earthquake. They provided foundations for subsequent discussions.
(3) Plenary Session: Panel Discussion (1)
- Under the facilitation of Minister Gemba, the Participants shared the views on the need to build resilient societies; human security as their foundations; long-term economic feasibility of investment in disaster reduction; and the benefit of strengthening disaster reduction capability of developing countries which is in the interest of the international community.
(4) Plenary Session: Panel Discussion (2)
- Under the facilitation of UNDP Administrator Clark, the Participants confirmed that we should mainstream disaster reduction at national, regional and international levels and, inter alia, incorporate disaster reduction in a post-2015 development framework.
(5) Reception hosted by Foreign Minister Gemba
- Foreign Minister Gemba hosted the reception, in which local specialties from Tohoku were provided.
Wednesday, July 4th
(1) Breakout Sessions
Breakout sessions were held in Ichinoseki City of Iwate Prefecture, Ishinomaki City of Miyagi Prefecture and Fukushima City of Fukushima Prefecture. The Participants had site visits to Chusonji-temple, Ishinomaki Fishing Port and a factory of a private company, respectively.
- Ichinoseki Breakout Session: The Participants discussed on a resilient society that is prepared against disasters and shared the importance of disaster risk assessment, maximization of disaster reduction capability through combining structural and non-structural measures, and disaster education.
- Ishinomaki Breakout Session: The Participants discussed challenges for a broad partnership among stakeholders and early recovery which are necessary in post-disaster management.
- Fukushima Breakout Session: The Participants discussed emerging disaster risks such as climate change and urbanization as well as the need for business continuity plans (BCPs). Foreign Minister Gemba gave the opening remarks, and Senior Vice-Minister Yamane participated as a panelist.
(2) Plenary Session: Panel Discussion (3)
- Under the facilitation of Foreign Minister Gemba, the Participants shared the views on the need for establishing an effective post-Hyogo Framework for action. They also praised Japan’s intention to host the third UN World Conference on Disaster Reduction in 2015 and to utilize the outcome of this Conference in Tohoku.
(3) Closing Ceremony
- Minister Nakagawa made a final comment and expressed the determination to host the third UN World Conference on Disaster Reduction in 2015.
- Foreign Minister Gemba made closing remarks and announced sending message from Tohoku to the world on “Disaster Reduction in the 21st century.” The Minister expressed that Japan will lead international efforts for disaster reduction, stating that (a) Japan will provide assistance to bolster comprehensive disaster reduction capability of developing countries, by effectively combining structural and non-structural measures and using the 3 billion dollar commitment it expressed; (b) Japan will lead an effort to incorporate disaster reduction in a post-2015 development framework; and (c) Japan is willing to host the third UN World Conference on Disaster Reduction in 2015 and to make efforts for an effective post-Hyogo Framework for Action.
- Minister Gemba, as Chair of the Conference, issued the Chair’s Summary in closing.
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