Towards Risk-Informed Sustainable Development in the SADC region

GIDRM & SADC Secretariat at SASDiR’s 5th Biennial Conference

As a community of practice for disaster risk reduction in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), the Southern Africa Society for Disaster Reduction (SASDiR) organized its 5th Biennial Conference from the 26-28 October 2022 in Blantyre, Malawi. Within the objective of reviewing and discussing different approaches to disaster risk reduction (DRR) in the face of climate change, the conference’s focus was guided by the theme: “Towards risk informed sustainable development in SADC region: Building resilient communities”.

The head of the SADC DRR Unit stressed that disaster risks are complex, systemic, and compounding and, therefore, pose an existential threat to sustainable development, particularly, the achievement of the Regional Strategic Indicative Development Implementation Plan 2020-2030 targets. Considering the unique opportunity for critical engagement during the conference, the mapping of the path towards strengthening DRR knowledge management was emphasized based on the research, assessments and analyses conducted in the region. Tied to the provisions of the 2021 Glasgow Pact on Climate Change, which calls for the global community to integrate climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction, decision-making for policy development and programming needs to be more risk-informed.

In recognizing the close collaboration of the SADC Secretariat with the Member States and International partners, the DRR Unit made specific reference to the GIDRM by highlighting its role in championing capacity building measures on risk-informed development (RID) and gender mainstreaming in disaster risk reduction in the region, specifically the:

  1. “Value-chain mapping study on the DRM cycle” for advocacy and consolidation of investments,
  2. “Lesson learning on COVID-19 response” for better understanding of future management of systemic risks,
  3. “Development and harmonization of DRM tools in key development sectors”, including processes like those on risk-informed urban development,
  4. methods for RID such as the Public Infrastructure Engineering Vulnerability Committee (PIEVC) Protocol for the assessment of climate change risks associated with infrastructure assets in the water sector in Lesotho and
  5. development of the Sustainability Plan and Business continuity model for the SADC Humanitarian and Emergency Operations Centre (SHOC) in Nacala, Mozambique.

GIDRM itself presented its advancement on Risk-Informed Development in the Southern Africa (SADC) region as well as highlights from the report on Risk Informed Urban Development (RIUD) in the SADC Region.

The Commissioner of Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DODMA) of Malawi pointed to the relevance of such conferences for informing decision makers in strengthening the science-policy interface. DODMA called for a mindset change on disaster risk management in Malawi and the African continent, which looks at understanding hazards not only as a threat but, through the lens of RID, also as opportunities. SASDiR’s Chairperson Prof. Dewald van Niekerk, Head of the African Centre for Disaster Studies at South Africa’s North West University, highlighted the major challenge of the complexity of disaster risk being oftentimes neglected and underscored the need for on integrated solution implemented by multiple sectors. The conferences’ concluding statement, which will be published under the Special Issue of Jamba - Journal of Disaster Risk Studies, called upon the SADC DRR Unit to present the findings to the SADC Council of Ministers for consideration and implementation support.

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