Chapter 12: Disaster risk reduction integrated in development planning and budgeting

12.1 Why is integrating disaster risk reduction in development planning important?

Development can be a major driver of disaster risk when it results in populations and economic assets being located in exposed geographic areas; in the accumulation of risk in urban areas due to rapid and unplanned developments; when it places excessive strains on natural resources and ecosystems; and when it exacerbates social inequalities if the income-generating opportunities for some population groups is curtailed. Therefore, risk should be seen as a normal and inseparable part of economic activities and development, as something built into particular development pathways and practices, constructed through day-to-day decisions by those who have a stake in particular patterns of development. Disaster risk is thus a social construct conditioned by each society’s perceptions, needs, demands, decisions and practices.

As reiterated throughout this GAR, it is time to cast off the notion that risk is exogenous to development, something that can be reduced simply by complementing development with risk reduction measures. Integrating (also termed mainstreaming) needs to be driven from within the key development sectors to ensure that specific sectoral vulnerability can be assessed, and risk management institutionalized in the policymaking, planning, project cycle and investment planning processes to implement DRR measures. This makes integration of DRR into development planning and budgeting predominantly a governance process. It needs to ensure that development is risk informed to improve the safety of people and critical facilities, to protect the natural and built environment, and to build resilient livelihoods and economic activity. Although risk governance is a multi-stakeholder task, governments have an exemplary role as risk avoiders providing public goods and services by refraining from actions that generate risk. 

The practical relationship between disaster risk and development therefore provides the core rationale for integrating DRR into development planning and budgeting. However, the need to address the development-based drivers of risk, and the acceptance that disaster risk is an indicator of unsustainable development, have yet to fully permeate conventional DRR and development policy and practice. 

12.2 What does the Sendai Framework say about integrating disaster risk reduction in development?

12.2.1 Scope of the Sendai Framework

Integrating DRR into development planning and budgeting is not a new goal in global policy processes. It was already part of the 1989 resolution on IDNDR, the 1994 Yokohama Strategy and Plan of Action, the 1999 ISDR, and of course HFA. HFA called for reducing underlying risk factors to address disaster risk in sector development planning and programmes as well as in post-disaster situations, yet the integration of DRR into policy and legal instruments remained at a nascent stage in most countries by the end of the HFA decade. Even where this had occurred, progress in implementation was limited according to HFA monitor reports.

The Sendai Framework commits Members States to address DRR within the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, and to integrate DRR into policies, plans, programmes and budgets at all levels. It states that effective DRM and addressing underlying disaster risk factors through disaster risk-informed public and private investments contributes to sustainable development and recognizes the importance of integrating DRR within and across all sectors of development to achieving disaster and climate risk-informed development.

The Sendai Framework highlights several specific entry points that can be pursued to foster the integration of DRR into development. For example, inclusive risk-informed decision-making that is based on the exchange and dissemination of disaggregated data is included under the Sendai Framework principles. Priority for Action 2 recognizes that strengthening disaster risk governance is a means to foster collaboration and partnership across mechanisms and institutions for the implementation of sustainable development. It specifically mentions that integrating DRR into development requires national and local frameworks of laws, regulations and public policies to define roles and responsibilities and to guide the public and private sectors. Priority for Action 3 calls for integrating disaster risk assessments into land-use policy development and implementation, including urban planning, land degradation assessments, and informal and non-permanent housing, as well as into rural development planning and management of various ecosystems. Priority for Action 4 stresses the need to: (a) incorporate DRM into post-disaster recovery and rehabilitation processes; (b) facilitate the link between relief, rehabilitation and development; and (c) use opportunities during the recovery phase to develop capacities that reduce disaster risk, including through land-use planning, improving structural standards and others.

12.2.2 Disaster risk reporting under the Sustainable Development Goals

In the reverse direction, it is also of interest that all 46 Member States that presented voluntary national reviews of progress in achieving SDGs at the United Nations High Level Platform in 2018 included disaster-related information, with many highlighting the importance of implementing different disaster risk measures. These elements are reported differently by different countries, with some focusing on identifying hazards, and others including their understanding and effort in implementing the Sendai Framework, and relate their work on DRR to a specific SDG.

The indicators related to risk reduction under the 2030 Agenda are included specifically only for reporting under SDGs 1, 11 and 13. However, with the scope of Sendai Framework hazards and risks ranging from the biological, to environmental, to technological processes and phenomena, many of the other goals are of relevance.

The Philippines and Mexico are harmonizing processes and methods to enable coherent implementation of the Sendai Framework, NUA, the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda at the national level. The Department of the Interior and Local Government of the Philippines is harmonizing risk assessment approaches and planning guidelines of different ministries, to provide clear guidance to local government units on the prioritization of measures and planning that take climate and disaster risks into consideration (e.g. in public building codes). In Mexico, the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit is being supported to develop methodologies and processes for prioritizing the projects that require an in-depth disaster risk analysis, and for integrating risk mitigation and CCA measures into prioritized projects. Additionally, Mexico is integrating the requirements of the Sendai Framework into the National Agenda for Sustainable Development.

12.3 Country experiences with integrating disaster risk reduction into development planning and budgeting

Integrating DRR into development strategies and plans is complex and highly context specific. Countries are pursuing a range of different entry points in their quests to undertake risk-informed development, and there is no single blueprint plan. Instead, learning and sharing from experience, including from other cross-cutting issues, has been of great value. Mainstreaming is a dynamic process that aims to understand risk at the heart of development decisions in policymaking, planning, budgeting, programming, implementation, monitoring and evaluation at national, sectoral and subnational levels, rather than seeing risk management as an add-on. Since development does not follow a linear path, it is important to be sufficiently flexible to seize the opportunity to undertake risk-informed development when and where the political economy is ripe.

DRR mainstreaming at the local and subnational levels encounters similar challenges and constraints as at the national level, but there are often more pronounced gaps in resources and capacities. For local-level mainstreaming efforts to be successful and take root, they are best pursued as part of a wider national undertaking that spans all scales of government administration, several sectors and groups of stakeholders. Joint approaches in mainstreaming of related cross-cutting issues, such as DRR, climate adaptation and gender equality, are also likely to result in more cohesive and effective action.

Experiences with DRR mainstreaming vary considerably among countries with federal or centralized systems, and small or geographically dispersed countries. In many resource-constrained contexts, such as the Pacific Island countries, integrated approaches to DRR and climate adaptation have gained much traction (e.g. in the Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific: An Integrated Approach to Address Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management), but some voices caution about the risk of overburdening already strained capacities. In Fiji, risk integration went hand in hand with mainstreaming the already familiar themes of gender and social inclusion, a familiarity that helped acceptance of the concept by those involved, who could easily identify the people more affected by climate change and disaster.

12.3.1 Policy and law as an entry point for mainstreaming

Integrating risk into laws, policies and plans is an important conduit for translating political will into concrete risk management actions. The policy entry points are at national, sectoral and local levels, where plans may be conceived through a mix of bottom-up and top-down processes to reflect the needs and capacities of communities exposed to natural hazards. Mainstreaming DRR into development planning requires a systematic effort to assess the risks from and to development, identify DRR measures, apply them to development activities and include them in a strategy document that guides annual planning and budget allocations and public investment instruments.

Legal and regulatory frameworks play a complementary role to plans and strategies as they establish the institutional mandates, the system of accountability for making risk reduction a priority, and budget allocations for implementation. While dedicated DRM laws have been the vehicle of choice for DRR integration so far, there are also efforts being made to integrate risk management in sectoral laws and regulations. The sectors driving economic growth and development in many developing countries (e.g. agriculture, manufacturing and tourism) have a significant influence on the development-based drivers of risk, so the regulatory frameworks that guide these sectors should receive more attention.

Standards are also a form of regulation, either voluntary or compulsory, that are approved for common and repeated use in sectors such as building codes, standards on electrotechnical equipment, electricity plants and electrically powered utilities, management system standards, codes of best practice on social responsibility, technical standards of professional associations of architects and engineers, and the Sendai Framework minimum standards and metadata for disaster-related data, statistics and analysis. Relevantly, within the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards, there is a range of standards on Environmental Management Systems (the ISO 14000 family of standards), the new ISO Risk Management Guidelines (ISO 31000:2018) and Societal Security Emergency Management (ISO 22320:2011), which includes risk management as an “integral part of business”. There are highly relevant new ISO standards under development under the category of “Sustainable cities and communities”, which are close to being launched. Sustainable cities and communities – indicators for resilient cities (ISO 37123) is the key one relevant to urban DRR; and also Sustainable cities and communities – indicators for smart cities (ISO 37122). These standards indicate which SDGs they contribute to, and their use will require a high level of policy coherence and integrated implementation.

As sectoral standards are often market driven and developed to respond to requests from industry or consumer groups, governments or regional organizations and administrations, they tend to command a high degree of ownership, which facilitates compliance. Ultimately, political leadership and advocacy to create the political will to reduce risk needs to go hand in hand with self-regulation through mechanisms such as standards, and community leadership to drive and eventually absorb the integration approach.

12.3.2 Organization as an entry point for mainstreaming

For DRR mainstreaming to take root, a change in organizational culture is required, as well as institutionalizing the risk management process in the procedures, tools and project management cycle of public and private sector organizations. Examples include risk screening tools for sector planners, or checklists in approval mechanisms that integrate risk. Such measures facilitate the implementation of risk-informed projects and programmes that build disaster and climate resilience. The organizational entry point for integrating DRR into development planning is significantly determined by the organization’s broader institutional and governance challenges. It is also noteworthy that established bureaucratic procedures are very challenging to reform.

A lack of personnel, expertise and capacity to operationalize DRR mainstreaming has been a bottleneck in many countries, especially when the mainstreaming process moves to the subnational level. It is therefore paramount to ensure staff are aware of their roles and have the commensurate technical and management capacity to conduct their assigned risk management functions and drive the mainstreaming process. To be effective, capacity development needs to move beyond traditional training approaches and support more sustained changes in behaviour. Apart from government staff and planners, other stakeholders need to be equipped with mainstreaming know-how (e.g. civil society, communities, the private sector and contractors). A new guide on a Strategic Approach to Capacity Development for Implementation of the Sendai Framework has been developed, which encompasses a range of stakeholders as integral to capacity-building, at different levels and scales, including national, subnational and local governments, the private sector and professional organizations, NGOs and civil society organizations, education and research institutions, individuals and households, and regional organizations including intergovernmental organizations.

Several analyses of DRM and its relationship to development indicators and overall governance characteristics suggest as a general rule that the higher the level of development in a country, the greater the progress made in incorporating DRR into development pursuits. Given the interdisciplinary nature of DRR, coordination and collaboration arrangements among a wide group of government and non-government stakeholders needs to be established and roles clarified. National Platforms for Disaster Risk Reduction or National Disaster Risk Reduction Committees should be go-to mechanisms, but have so far been only modestly effective in promoting DRR mainstreaming.

12.3.3 Knowledge as an entry point for mainstreaming

Knowledge is a critical component of any mainstreaming process. The ability to make a strong case for the link between disaster risk and development and to provide the evidence base for risk-informed development hinges on having access to risk information and knowledge. This entry point also encompasses public education and awareness campaigns to build a common understanding of why mainstreaming is important, and to secure the buy-in of policymakers and other stakeholders to mobilize the resources and capacities needed. In addition, formal avenues need to be pursued through integrating DRR knowledge into the curricula of schools, universities, and public and professional training institutes. Formal education and training is a key entry point to drive mainstreaming.

Knowledge related to risk assessment deserves special attention as the foundation for developing a shared vision of what needs to be done. Information on the nature and extent of hazards, vulnerabilities, and the magnitude and likelihood of potential damage and loss needs to expand from single-hazard to multi-risk assessments to capture the range of intersecting threats. For example, addressing desertification and drought risk in Sudan needs solutions that take into consideration heightened competition over land and resources between settled cultivators and nomadic pastoralists.

Integrating risk management into development decision-making and the roles of development actors requires a good appreciation of the wider development context, the political economy and how it supports or hinders DRR. As outlined above, effective mainstreaming of DRR requires a sustained commitment that needs to be nurtured over time. The ability to evaluate the impact of DRR integration through good monitoring and evaluation systems is therefore vital, albeit challenging, because measuring the avoided or reduced risk is not an easy task. Monitoring compliance with legal frameworks, including land-use regulations and building codes, can provide an insight into how DRR measures can make a difference. However, blurred accountability lines between the many stakeholders involved often hampers such monitoring and compliance.

12.3.4 Stakeholders as an entry point for mainstreaming

Although governments have the primary responsibility to prevent and reduce risk, it is well established that DRR requires an all-of-society engagement and partnership if it is to be effective. Private sector investments have long overtaken the public sector, with a considerable potential to generate risk. Likewise, actions and decisions at household and community level can contribute to the accumulation of risk, albeit at this level, finding the means to involve them meaningfully in risk management may be the bigger hurdle. Government is also made up of a myriad of sectors and departments, interests, powers and knowledge bases that need to be well understood to be effectively deployed in the process. Decision makers, legislators and administrators at national, sectoral and local levels must also set the necessary regulations and exercise their coordination and oversight functions to ensure implementation and compliance. It is critical that governments set the enabling environment and provide incentives for the engagement of other stakeholders in the risk management process. Ultimately, such engagement ensures broader ownership and sustainability of mainstreaming efforts and the related DRR measures.

As DRR mainstreaming needs to be driven from within the development sector, the proactive involvement of development actors is needed. Although national disaster management authorities have been indispensable for paving the way and advocating for mainstreaming, most countries have been able to make significant progress only after getting the full engagement of development, planning and finance ministries. This ensures a more holistic approach with explicit linkages to development planning and implementation at all levels. Involving a country’s development planning system broadly helps to overcome obstacles linked to horizontal and vertical integration of DRR, as well as mainstreaming DRR more systematically by way of cooperative goal definition, planning and action. This ambition is a long-term, incremental process towards risk-informed development that requires strengthening incentive systems to cooperate with others on shared tasks. Since the role of many traditional DRM institutions is still in need of support, a two-track approach is recommended that also helps consolidate and strengthen the legitimacy and accountability of national DRM authorities or civil protection agencies.

Communities play a key role in terms of their local knowledge, voicing social demands for DRR measures, and ultimately implementing these. Distinct attention must be placed on involving all members that make up a community, including women, youth, older persons, minority and marginalized groups, and persons with disabilities. The mainstreaming process cannot be separated from gender and other social factors that determine vulnerabilities, capacities and exposure to natural hazards. Civil society organizations are indispensable as intermediaries between government and communities, as service deliverers and as activists.

Regarding private sector involvement in DRR mainstreaming, there has been a trend in recent years for some private sector companies to go beyond social responsibility considerations and to recognize DRR as a means to ensure competitiveness and business continuity in the event of a disaster. But the short-term business focus of some companies and sectors still stands in the way of long-term sustainability in DRR. Income maximization at the expense of fragile ecosystems is unfortunately still the norm in many sectors. Many businesses are not considering their exposure to risk, and face losses every year, even in high-income countries. However there has been an increasing awareness within governments and business sectors in South-East Asia, especially since the 2011 Bangkok floods, of the need for disaster and climate resilience of their own businesses and those of their suppliers, including SMEs.

Other key stakeholders include academia and research institutions, as well as the media in terms of its role in fostering awareness, transparency, and influencing decision makers and the wider public, while noting that ill-informed media may also be harmful. Partnerships and networks can be effective in bringing together multiple actors. Their respective comparative advantages, skills, experiences and resources can be pooled, and can help connect sectors and overcome institutional silos.

12.3.5 Finance as an entry point for mainstreaming

The issue of funding needs to be approached with an awareness of the scale of change required to move towards risk-informed sustainable development, and the challenges countries face where resources are scarce and everyday decisions must be made about where to spend precious budget allocations. Many countries are reporting that financial constraints are the main barrier to mainstreaming and that these explain the lack of progress in reducing underlying risks nationally and locally. The low level of financing surely reflects a lack of overall means in many countries, but it also reflects perceptions and priorities of governments and donors on where investment should be made. Historically that balance has been tilted against investment that supports long-term resilience, as societal demands tend to focus on shorter-term goals. Adding to long-standing arguments that risk reduction is a better public investment than disaster recovery and reconstruction, the recent World Bank Beyond the Gap report on SDGs and infrastructure needs adds new research and momentum to the view that much more can be done with the same resources if spending is done strategically and from a systems perspective.

Financing is a lesser concern for prospective DRM, which can be pursued through development processes such as infrastructure investments through detailed engineering design and planning, sometimes with little incremental expense (on average 4.5%), as long as regulation is strong enough to mandate and monitor these requirements. But strengthening financial mechanisms for DRR is still important, as is understanding the level of resources the public sector invests in it, and the relationship among earmarked budgets and allocations internal to ministerial or agency budgets. The latter is not always straightforward, as risk reduction measures are not always clearly labelled as such, for example, in the case of investments in forestry management in areas exposed to high levels of landslide risk.

Having dedicated budget lines for DRR within sectoral budgets is one of the most promising approaches for integrating DRR in the budgetary system. As an intermediate measure, it may be necessary to establish dedicated funds for DRR, or to allocate a portion of such funds for risk reduction, as is done in the Philippines.

12.4 Conclusions

The clear relationship between risk from natural hazards and risks to and from development is the core rationale for integrating DRR into development planning and budgeting. Unless nations accelerate their efforts to curb the development-based drivers of risk, sustainable development may not be possible, and certainly not achievable by 2030. However, recognition of the need to address these development-based risk drivers, and to accept that disaster impacts are an indicator of unsustainable development, have yet to permeate conventional DRR and development policy and practice. As described previously in this GAR, especially in Chapter 2, this requires a new understanding of risk in the interactions between the environment and human-made systems, and a shift towards systems thinking in risk reduction that has not yet become part of mainstream policymaking at practice.

There has been some progress in DRR mainstreaming through a range of entry points such as policy, organizations, knowledge, stakeholder engagement and finance. However, several key challenges remain. The capacities and skills to drive mainstreaming and risk reduction processes over a sufficient length of time are still not adequate. Despite many innovative financing mechanisms and regulatory advancements, bottlenecks persist in financing the demanding risk reduction goals that countries have set for themselves, in part due to their global commitments under the Sendai Framework, Paris Agreement, 2030 Agenda and other global frameworks. Setting the right incentives to engage key stakeholders in a meaningful way, including communities at risk and the private sector, is not a new challenge, but is one that requires genuine action. There are still gaps in generating and making accessible risk information, the related tools that are able to generate disaggregated and geospatial data down to the lowest level of analysis, and also in understanding the vulnerability of human systems to cascading and system risk.

You are viewing an excerpt of this chapter. To access the entire chapter or the full GAR report. Download the entire introduction.