The first Arab Regional Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction
Date: 19 - 21 March 2013
Location: Mövenpick Resort & Residences Aqaba King Hussein Street – 77110 Aqaba, Jordan
Disasters are not sudden events, they are the outcomes of natural hazards that affect highly vulnerable areas and populations with low capacities and resilience for disaster risk. Disasters occur when natural hazards meet high vulnerability and low resilience coupled with lack of information and data on risks.
Moreover, lack of resources, weak or non-existent early warning systems and fragile infrastructure all contribute to the magnitude of disaster losses in lives, livelihoods, assets, economy, environment, etc. It might take years for a disaster hit community or country to recover socially and economically.
The Arab region is not immune from disasters. Different parts of the Arab region are regularly exposed to geological hazards such as earthquakes and landslides, in addition to weather related hazards such as floods, extreme temperature events, drought, sand storms, wildfires and cyclones.
The 2010 Environment Outlook Report for the Arab Region points out that most of disaster losses in the Arab region were caused by drought, earthquakes, floods and storms. The report also states that more than 37 million Arab people were affected and more than 20 billion dollars were lost between 1980 and 2008 due to natural disasters.
Rapid urbanization, environmental degradation, water scarcity, changing demography and migration trends are further amplifying levels of vulnerability among the Arab population. Secondary risks associated with population displacement, disease outbreak, pandemic influenza, conflict and civil unrest pose multi-fold challenges to the region, on a larger scale than ever before. All these factors challenge countries and limit their capacities to reduce and manage disaster risk.
About the Conference
The first Arab Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) will bring together the key actors in DRR from the 22 Arab countries.
This conference will provide a forum for Arab politicians, policy makers, planners, academia and development experts to discuss issues and challenges facing the region with regard to disaster risk reduction. This session is being co-organized by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA), the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) and the League of Arab States (LAS).
The Conference will discuss:
- the existing policies and institutional mechanisms for disaster risk management
- the regional progress towards risk reduction and HFA implementation
- the regional position and input towards HFA 2 or post-2015 DRR Global Framework
- the nature of urban risks in the Arab region and
- good practices on urban risk management.
Based upon these discussions, the Conference will formulate and issue a Conference Outcome Statement and a Mayor’s Declaration on Urban Risk Management in Arab Cities.
The Mayor’s Declaration will set goals, targets and indicators for reducing disaster risks in the Arab Cities. The Mayor’s Declaration will demonstrate commitment of the participating city authorities to improve their capacities for disaster risk management.
The Conference Outcome Statement and the Mayor’s Declaration will also provide the basis for advocacy to city and national governments in the Arab region to enhance and accelerate their actions on disaster risk management.
Furthermore, the conference will also debate and discuss current globally evolving issues of concerns with regard to disaster risk reduction in order to understand their implications on the Arab region as well as how to best address them regionally and nationally in the context of Arab regions’ priorities and challenges.
- The Conference will launch the Arab Regional Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction as a regional coordination mechanism on DRR that facilitate exchanges among countries and partners and ensure follow-up of progress and engagement of stakeholders in regional and global policies and plans on DRR and sustainable development
- Conference will facilitate development of an Arab position for the 4th session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction taking place in Geneva May 2013.
- Conference will facilitate development of recommendations for HFA 2 (post-2015)
- The Conference will issue an Arab Mayor’s Declaration on Urban Risk Reduction that aims at establishing benchmarks for reducing disaster risks in the Arab cities, given the fact that many capital cities and business centers of the Arab region are exposed to variety of disasters, which could lead to colossal losses.
- Official delegations of the Arab governments representing national focal points for disaster risk reduction in each country
- Mayors from major high risk Arab cities
- The Secretariat of the Arab League and all the Arab specialized organizations
- United Nations organizations and International organizations working in the Arab region with focus on disaster risk reduction
- Bilateral development agencies
- Civil society organizations active in the field of risk reduction at the regional level
- Arab Funds for development, the Islamic Development Bank and the African Development Bank
- Arab media organizations
- Representatives from the private sector, insurance corporations concerned with issues of risk reduction and the Union of Arab Investors.