The Sendai Journey: Part 1

The recipe of saving life and money
Medical students in policy design and implementation

Disasters have devastating affects on a country’s sustainable development as well as its inhabitants’ individual life. In events of disasters news are overfloaded with information on disrupted social services,  lack of sufficient security measures to ensure a safe community for its inhabitants, environmental degradation and interruption of the sustainable development, all affecting people’s lives. Natural as well as man made hazard influence the health and wellbeing of the people, indirectly and directly, in short and long term, putting innocent people at forefront of disasters. This can be put to an end as we know how to reduce the suffering of the nations and its people. With effective disaster preparedness and prevention billion of dollars and millions of life can be saved ensuring the resilience of communities and building back better.

The Ecuador Delegation donated roses to decorate the negotiation room to ensure a better environment in the night negotiations on the Post-2015 Framework for DRR. 

During March 14th – 18th year 2015, 6,500 people including 2,800 government representatives from 187 governments, met in Sendai Japan. This was an end of two years negotiations and consultations of the Post-2015 Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and it is the beginning of an era with enhanced recognition and actions on DRR. After a marathon of negotiations which continued until the late in night, the representatives from the attending 187 UN member states finally adopted the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015 – 2030. The world now has a framework to guide the DRR investments and actions by agencies, governments, academia, civil society and private sector during the coming 15 years. It is not perfect, it is weak and with insufficient accountability mechanism, but it is better than nothing and it shows large improvements from the previous framework, Hyogo Framework for Actions.

All stakeholders went to Sendai to represent their priorities and we all had our separate agendas, including IFMSA. The major issues of discussion in the end consisted of whether ‘conflict’ should be considered a driver of risk for disasters; the demand of rich countries financially supporting poor countries and regulation of this support; and technology transfer from Global North to Global South. We are left with a framework without recognition of conflict as neither a driver of risks or as a disaster itself, with weak accountability held for governments to ensure stronger national DRR plans, with insufficient recognition of environmental degradation consequences of disasters, and weak coherence with other upcoming Post-2015 frameworks. With WHO leading the technical support given to countries and the UNISDR secretariat, biological disasters are though addressed in the framework.

But one large achievement has been made. There have been an outstanding increase of political attention to the DRR process and WCDRR, compared with the attention given to the previous International Framework for DRR and the process leading up to it. With the political attention the negotiations switched from technical discussions to political key points on finance, accountability, North-South corporations, vulnerable groups, climate change and conflict recognition. There is though positive consequences of the enhanced political attention that can not be ignored. We all know that it is money that will rule the implementation of any framework, and this one is of no difference, and with enhanced political attention increased  allocation of resources are a normal consequence due to recognition of the importance of the topic.


“Engaging youth and children in the disaster risk reduction work is not only a necessary measure; it is an act of prudence providing them with rights and meaningful access to save and shape their future ”- The United Nation Youth Envoy Mr. Ahmed Alhendawi, March 15th 2015, 3rd United Nations World Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) Sendai, Japan

A delegation of nine IFMSA members representing four regions attended the 3rd UN World Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR), March 14th – 18th 2015. We were representing the Federation’s position through the official mandated stakeholder, the UN Major Group for Children and Youth (UN MGCY).

chris WCDRR MGCY statement
Christopher Schurman (bvmd Germany) delivering the plenary statement on behalf of UN MGCY. Photo Credits to Kartikeya Bhalla.

The dedication of youth and children was reflected by the attendance of 250 young people attending the WCDRR. They had traveled to Sendai Japan in order to learn about DRR in the WCDRR Children and Youth Forum and to raise their voices in the Multistakeholder Forum.


The Road up to Sendai
The UN MGCY, including IFMSA, have with dedication and patience followed this process during the last years. UNISDR consider us one of the strongest civil society stakeholders during the whole negotiation process. The children-centered organizations (Save the Children, UNICEF, World Vision and Plan International) represented under Children in Changing Climate Coalition have been surprised by the enormous mobilisation of children and youth worldwide. The Overseas Development Institute (ODI), being the leading impartial policy advisor on the process, have been impressed by the children and youth policy points in the negotiations.

We have been asked to be more cute and less technical in our statements. We have been asked to dance and perform instead of delivering policy. But despite endless nights and being trapped in the conference venue after the last train to the accommodation left, we never gave up. We are important actors in the policy design, implementation, review and monitoring. No matter the absence of recognition, it is our role to present the position we stand for. Through out the past year series of consultations have been held and endless of capacity building opportunities provided. IFMSA have among others hosted consultations as part of the March Meeting 2014 and August Meeting 2014 pre General Assembly training on “Disaster Risk Management & Humanitarian Response”.

Entry written by IFMSA Project Support Director Liljana Lukic, bvmd Germany members Christopher Schürmann and Philipp Münzert, IFMSA Egypt members Majid Shangab and Aia Raafat, IFMSA-China member Wing Sum Li, AMSA USA member Leo Lopez, CIMSA ISMKI member Dhiya Khoirunnisa, AMSA Singapore member Val Tan, IFMSA-Sweden member Anna Theresia Ekman and IFMSA Liaison Officer Moa M Herrgård.

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