Making Resilience A Reality: “Don’t Live With It, Deal With It.”

Posted: March 26, 2013 by Hannah Tankard in Adaptation, Climate Change, Development, Disaster, Disaster Risk Reduction, Resilience

2015 may seem a long time away for the majority, but in the developing and disaster risk reduction sectors it is a year that will come around all too quickly. It is a year of great promises, change and reflection.

So, why is 2015 such a landmark year? Well, it is the year when the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) should be achieved; and the year when a new global consensus on climate change must be reached. It is also the year that marks the 10th anniversary of the voluntary disaster risk reduction (DRR) agreement, the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA).

2015 presents an opportunity like no other to revolutionise the way that humanitarian organisations, global decision makers and governments look at development, disasters and climate change.

As such, disaster practitioners are looking towards a year where we really can begin to make “resilience a reality”. The Global Network for Disaster Reduction (GNDR) has spearheaded the 2015 campaign with their conference “don’t live with it, deal with it.” The conference took place in The Hague, The Netherlands over 20th to 21st March 2013 and brought together the network’s global members.

The GNDR Logo

The GNDR Logo

Importantly, GNDR is different as it represents and advocates on behalf of civil society organisations (CSOs). CSOs work at the local level, the level that arguably feels the effect of hazards the most. From the GNDR’s viewpoint, any future recommendations, priorities and goals really need to take on board the experiences and needs of those living with disasters. The focus need not be on only major disasters but also on the often unacknowledged, unreported everyday disasters that can contribute to continuing cycles of poverty.

However, the conference was not just about getting local perspectives voiced. It was also designed to for the local voice to be heard. Major listeners at the conference included Margareta Wahlström (the UNISDR’s Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Disaster Risk Reduction).

So what were the CSOs asked to discuss at the conference?

First, CSO participants were asked to provide feedback on a draft report of Views from the Frontline (VFL) 2013. This is a two-year report that has gathered data from all over the world about how people on the ground are experiencing disasters. It is designed to be read by global leaders, so that those from the local level are represented in global negotiations.

Second, the Global Platform taking place Geneva, May 2013, is looking towards the future of the HFA by bringing together the major DRR stakeholders. Although no easy task, the GNDR steering group challenged CSOs to agree on 10 recommendations to take to the Global Platform; these recommendations will hopefully contribute to the next phase of the HFA. This was seen as one of the best routes for CSOs to positively influence the way in which disaster risk reduction policies are shaped.

So, why would those at the Global Platform listen to the GNDR’s 10 recommendations? Well, they are recommendations not built on hot air but upon real, evidence based data gathered by the VFL research team. By presenting two years of solid research, there is no doubt that that GNDR are serious about getting the voice of those on the ground heard.

The two main aspects of the GNDR conference were also supported by a case study session on advocacy. The session demonstrated how two CSOs, one in Afghanistan and one in the Philippines, have successfully advocated, from the bottom-up, for better DRR across all levels of society. In particular, these case studies provided valuable lessons on how to negotiate with local and national governments. This session was designed for other CSOs to learn from, and take home, advocacy techniques to use in their own work.

The conference prompted healthy debate and thought-provoking discussion allowing a wide variety of voices to be heard. This diversity of opinion will be represented in the recommendations taken forward to the Global Platform. By 2015, it is hoped that CSOs will have made a genuine contribution to global negotiations for the future of the HFA. The ultimate goal is for better global DRR and a higher degree of resiliency at the local level where people don’t just “live with it, but deal it.”

Disclaimer: the opinions presented in this article are my own, not the GNDR’s. However, if you are interested in finding out more about the GNDR, please visit the GNDR website:


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