New global deal leaves poor countries unprepared for future disasters

A new international agreement reached by world leaders today on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan, is being heavily criticised by aid agencies, including ActionAid, who say rich countries are shirking their responsibility to respond to the growing impact of climate change.

The World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR), attended by over 180 of the world’s governments, was expected to provide an opportunity for world leaders to agree upon an international strategy for dealing with disasters over the next fifteen years.

As the conference commenced, cyclone Pam devastated Vanuatu, decimating villages and leaving at least 47% of the country’s population affected.

The agreement announced this morning falls short of what is required for the international community to prepare adequately for disasters, which will increase in scale and frequency in the next decade as a result of climate change. Rich countries have avoided making the commitments required to ensure that the world’s populations, particularly those in poor countries most vulnerable to climate-related disasters, are prepared – spokespeople from ActionAid said today.

Harjeet Singh, ActionAid International Policy Manager on Climate Change, said this late evening:

Seven global targets agreed in the new disaster risk deal is a step forward. However, weak targets without numbers and no commitment to finance make them meaningless for those most vulnerable in developing countries.

“Over the past four days in Sendai, we have seen rich nations gradually erode commitments to deliver money to developing countries to prepare for and respond to increasing disasters and climate change impacts.

“We are walking away from Sendai with an international agreement full of fluffy targets. The agreement has no specific numbers which are needed to hold governments to account for their actions over the next fifteen years. The language in the text on what rich nations must provide remains ambiguous. This is an unacceptable compromise by the world’s governments that will ultimately affect people living in poverty the most.

“Cyclone Pam has devastated the Pacific nation of Vanuatu, and even with this timely reminder, governments have failed miserably to respond to the growing impact of disasters on the world’s poorest nations. Disasters are felt most significantly by poor countries, and these countries urgently require greater financing and capacity to adequately prepare for disasters and reduce loss of life and income.”

Farah Kabir, Country Director of ActionAid Bangladesh, said:

Without adequate investment for the eradication of poverty and reduce risks, we will see women disproportionately impacted by disasters... Violence against women and girls will continue to rise significantly when disasters strike, and women’s income and food security will be affected.

Rich nations have pushed making financial commitments to reduce disaster risk to a separate round of financing negotiations later in the year. How far down the road poor nations have to go to be risk-secured? Without greater commitments on financing, the results for vulnerable communities in poor countries will be catastrophic.

Citizens around the globe have to step up the pressure on rich nations to come to the table with concrete commitments.”


Further information and immediate interviews live from Sendai, contact:

  • Harjeet Singh, International Policy Manager, Climate Change directly on +44 78720 33547
  • Farah Kabir, Country Director, ActionAid Bangladesh on +88 01711883796

To pre-arrange interview, contact:

  • Anna Fraser (Australia) +61 430910578, or
  • Tricia O'Rourke (UK) +44 7850 312438)