Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Clearly identify risks Africa faces

Rowena Hay in Business Day (South Africa): It is time for Africans to speak coherently about the environmental and social threats they face, building on and adapting established global risk models. Individual efforts in disaster risk reduction do make a difference and can eventually secure political will and public support.

It is about how we manage the risks to the environment, taking into account social and economic demands — if we don’t take them into account, they will trigger worse environmental risks.

There is a view of the world that risk can be quantified once-off, but this does not factor in compound disasters and cascading risks. We have been living in a world of uncertainty and constant change since the financial crisis of 2008. So we need to talk about adaptation. Coping capacity is based on the recognition that some communities cope better than others, and recognise the need to adapt to change. You look not only at vulnerability, but also people’s strengths.

...The 2014 World Economic Forum global risk report was released and the third UN World Conference on disaster risk reduction led to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-30. The Hyogo framework was developed by a small group of scientists, sociologists and disaster management practitioners and was a practical, useful document. It was far-sighted in its approach to civil society and using ordinary people as volunteers.

Preparation for the post-2015 process started in 2011, with conversations about setting new goals. However, African representatives argued that many priority areas were only starting to be addressed in certain parts of the continent and the agenda should not be changed.

This was a triumph for the African voice, showing that the regional nature of some environmental issues should be further addressed. The growing nexus of environment, government and instability is often glossed over and that is a factor in Africa we simply can’t afford to ignore....

Photo of a 2006 flood in Algeria, shot by Astonar, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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