The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) has recently published the results of a midterm review of The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030). 

Download the Report on the Midterm Review of the Sendai Framework here

At the halfway point of this Framework’s implementation, this review examined progress made towards reducing loss and damage during disasters, reducing existing risk and preventing new risks. It explored efforts to integrate risk reduction into decision-making, investment, and behaviours at multiple levels and across a wide range of sectors and disciplines.

The findings and recommendations in this midterm review can help identify gaps where libraries can demonstrate their value in reducing risk and building resilience. Read the report here:

Main findings and recommendations of the midterm review of the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030.

What is the Sendai Framework?

The Sendai Framework for Disaster risk reduction seeks to minimise impacts of disaster. It outlines principles and priorities for action to reduce existing risks and prevent new risks from emerging.

The Framework aims to reduce “disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods and health and in the economic, physical, social, cultural and environmental assets of persons, businesses, communities and countries”.

Disaster risk reduction is an important topic for the global library field. Libraries safeguard cultural heritage, they deliver secondary emergency service, enable their communities to come together in times of need, and are nodes in health knowledge networks. IFLA’s work in disaster risk reduction has aimed to reduce negative outcomes for libraries, their staff, and their collections, and to promote the important role of libraries in building community resilience.

For more background, refer to IFLA’s Libraries and the Sendai Framework: a briefing.

Key Findings for Libraries

The midterm review found that progress has been made towards realising the Sendai Framework’s priorities. However, this progress is not equal across countries. It noted the unique challenges faced by the least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States, which have limited progress towards achieving the Framework’s goals.

For the global library field, the following findings and recommendations may be particularly relevant.

Data Production and Management

 A key challenge is that global access to disaster data and knowledge on risk and risk reduction has remained inadequate. Gaps remain in the collection and analysis of data relevant to disasters, loss, and risk at both the subnational and national levels.

The report notes that it is important that data is disaggregated, or separated, by key variables, such as gender, age, and disability. It is important that we know how hazards, risks, and past disasters have affected different groups within our societies – especially those groups that are most vulnerable.

Currently, many developed and developing countries are not providing data on gender, age, and disability to the Sendai Framework monitor.

Knowing how disaster affects all societal groups is essential for understanding where vulnerabilities and gaps remain. In this, the report noted the intersection between disaster risk and social justice, social cohesion, and human rights. It noted that “public trust and public engagement of socially vulnerable groups are essential” to reducing risk.

There are challenges regarding participation, including participation in data collection. The report notes gaps especially with regards to women, the elderly, persons with disabilities, and children. “Without such data, problems remain invisible and thus are not solved within the policy framework”.

  • States must prioritise the production of high-quality data on disaster risk and broaden application of risk assessment
  • These efforts must be inclusive of all social groups
  • States must put systems in place to ensure that risk data can be located, is accessible, interoperable, reusable and integrated into decision-making at all levels
  • States should invest in historical records digitisation
  • States should invest in training and education for entities beyond those traditionally or commonly mandated to lead disaster risk reduction
  • Partnerships, including scientific and academic partnerships, should be established to adopt intersectoral approaches to data management

For additional reflection:  How can libraries help enhance public trust and support participation of vulnerable societal groups in risk assessment? Where can libraries partner with local and national government to enhance data collection, management, and integration into decision making?

Strengthening Governance

The report notes an overall lack of local government and community involvement in disaster risk reduction planning. It also notes that there is a need to build recognition of the importance of intersectoral coordination.

Many countries have yet to realise the need to promote cooperation between different agencies, institutions, and other stakeholders, in developing and implementing disaster risk reduction strategies.

  • Move decision-making and investment to a coordinated and risk-informed “all State institutions” and “all-of-society” approach
  • States can achieve this by ensuring multisectoral and multi-stakeholder mechanisms and strategies for risk management – at the local and national levels
  • Engage and mobilise the expertise of scientific, academic, private sector, civil society and local stakeholders
  • Disaster risk reduction governance must include and apply local, traditional and Indigenous knowledge
  • States should create platforms and spaces for these stakeholders to be heard which are inclusive of marginalized groups

 For additional reflection: Can libraries approach national and subnational decisionmakers as stakeholders in resilience building? Have libraries built a body of evidence on how they have supported the resilience of their communities during disasters that can be more widely applied, such as lessons-learned during the COVID-19 pandemic? How can libraries partner with local and national government to provide inclusive platforms and spaces where many stakeholder’s voices can be heard?

Investing in Resilience Building

 The report found that overall investment in disaster risk reduction remains largely inadequate. It finds that public sector budgets for disaster risk reduction have been significantly lower than other areas of national development.

The report finds that a large amount of investment has been for recovery, with only a small amount being invested in prevention and preparedness measures. Key missing investments were noted as being in technical and human capacity building.

Finally, in both developed and developing countries, the availability and affordability of insurance is a growing concern.

  • States are encouraged to make greater public investment in disaster risk reduction, informed by disaster risk considerations and good disaster risk management practices
  • States should commit to creating sector-specific budget allocations for disaster risk reduction through their government institutions at all appropriate scales

For additional reflection: Are there investments that library decision-makers can make to reduce disaster risk? Are local and national governments making funds available within sectors relevant to the library field to assist in disaster risk reduction and resilience building?

Enhancing Preparedness to Build Back Better

 The report finds that there is a growing awareness of the critical need to focus on preparedness. However, as noted in the section on public investment, most investment remains reactive and focussed on recovery. The report calls for more effort to raise awareness of the importance of proactive action – being prepared before a disaster strikes.

Due to gaps like a lack of information and absence of multi-hazard early warning systems, the report finds that half of the world is not prepared for disaster. Most systems only cover one type of hazard (i.e. tsunami warning systems). However, the report points out that a result of climate change is frequent, extreme, and unpredictable weather events, which result in compounded disasters and possible civil unrest.

Going back to the earlier points on inclusivity, women’s inclusion and diversity of knowledge systems are not yet being recognised as integral components of recovery, rehabilitation, and reconstruction solutions. Community participation in a bottom-up, co-creation process is essential in equitable recovery planning.

  • More awareness raising efforts and investment must be made in enhancing preparedness
  • States are encouraged to work more closely with communities and in regional/international partnerships to create multi-hazard early warning systems that are integrated with both local, traditional and Indigenous knowledge and regional data on disaster risks
  • Disaster recovery must centre the principles of build back better.
  • Disaster recovery frameworks must be developed by diverse stakeholders and be inclusive of diverse experience, viewpoints, and knowledge

For additional reflection:  How are libraries investing in preparedness and resilience building? Are there lessons learned in libraries, in partnership with local communities, that can be more widely applied to local and national disaster recovery frameworks? How can libraries contribute local and traditional knowledge, as well as regional/locally specific data, to the creation of multi-hazard early warning systems?

Next Steps

This report further enhances the understanding that disaster risk is a multifaceted issue. It is closely related to social justice and inclusion, participatory governance, access to information, and preservation of local memory, knowledge, and data.

Libraries of various types can have a role to play in enhancing local and national disaster risk reduction strategies that can improve progress towards achieving the goals on the Sendai Framework.

What can you do?

Find out if your country has a disaster risk reduction strategy. If it does, does the strategy include libraries and/or cultural and memory institutions?

If there is no strategy, are there plans to create one, in line with the Sendai Framework? Can you ensure that libraries and their work are included?

If the strategy does not mention the work of libraries, determine actions your library has taken in the past years to build capacity for disaster risk reduction. This may include reducing risk within your own institution and/or involving your community in building resilience in response to past disasters.

Are there recommendations in the midterm review that your library could contribute to, such as digitisation of historic records, partnerships for data collection and management, or participatory inclusion of marginalised voices in society?

We encourage you to think about disaster risk reduction both within your own context, as well as in your community – and to share your ideas!