Where are Young People in Disaster Risk Reduction and Disaster Risk Management

It is no doubt that young people the world over continue to shape the climate debate in diverse forms. They have a major and influential role in for instance the climate negotiations and are at the forefront of activism in their home countries pressing their leaders to do more to tackle the climate crisis. But they almost do not have a presence in advocating or promoting Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) or Disaster Risk Management (DRM) and the Youth In Action on Climate Change: Inspiration from Around the World report seems to back up this fact.  This is worrying as promoting disaster resiliency is not at the exclusion of young people.

For this reason, the Major Group of Children and Youth has partnered with the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) and civil society partners from the Children in a Changing Climate Coalition (CCC) to host a Children & Youth Blast! at the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (3WCDRR) to be held in Sendai, Japan in March 2015. Governments around the world have committed to take action to reduce disaster risk, and have adopted a guideline, called the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015 (HFA) - Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters, to reduce vulnerabilities to natural hazards. The HFA assists the efforts of nations and communities to become more resilient to, and cope better with, the hazards that threaten their development gains. It has provided an inspiration for knowledge, practice, implementation, experience and science for disaster risk reduction.

As the Post-2015 Framework on DRR will be adopted in Sendai, youth around the world will need to voice their concerns and aspirations as response capacity is needed for every natural disaster whether it is an earthquake, land subsidence, tsunami, fire or a climate change related extreme weather event. Areas of interest for young people include pre-disaster activities such as acquisition of supplies, rescue equipment, and training of personnel engaged in direct disaster management, including disaster risk reduction activities. Disaster-related activities or services such as relief, rehabilitation, reconstruction, and other works or services in connection with calamities are additional avenues where youth could be involved in DRR and DRM efforts.  Early warning systems, a well-prepared population, good communication among first responders, emergency facilities, access to emergency stores of food, medicine and drinking water, and more will be needed as climate change exacerbate the risk of both slow- and fast-paced extreme events.

As UNISDR continues hosting consultations and negotiations with member states and stakeholders as part of an ongoing effort to build international commitment to integrate disaster and climate risk considerations in development policy and programs with a view to the post-2015 development framework, it is essential that youth are not left behind. It is necessary that they shape discussions and outline an approach toward a new international framework for disaster risk reduction and resilience to be considered in Sendai in 2015. They need to as the world moves toward the end date of the HFA.