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Linking disaster risk reduction, climate change, and the sustainable development goals

This paper explores the linking of disaster risk reduction, climate change, and the sustainable development goals in Paris agreements and reveals that no reason exists for climate change to be separated from wider disaster risk reduction and sustainable development processes.

Several major international agreements related to sustainable development were signed in 2015 including:

  • The Paris Agreement (UNFCCC, 2015) from the Conference of Parties 21 meeting (COP21) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which was signed in December;
  • The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs; UNGA, 2015) which were approved in September; and
  • The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR; UNISDR, 2015) which was signed in March.

Each of these three agreements differs in structure, legal context, and implementation mechanisms, but they also have numerous parallels.

One of the biggest differences is that the UNFCCC process which frames the COP meetings and agreements is meant to be legally binding in international law, whereas the processes leading to, and the outcomes from, the SDGs and SFDRR are voluntary. Yet the main provisions of the Paris Agreement are effectively voluntary, despite being enshrined in a legally binding process. Other major similarities are that all three agreements are based in the timeframe 2015-2030 and articulate the same fundamental ethos of sustaining human life without harming the planet or humanity. Meanwhile, processes similar to and in parallel with UNFCCC exist for biodiversity through the Convention on Biological Diversity and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification.

Given the multiple agreements alongside their connections and overlaps, could they interfere with or support each other?

The purpose of this paper is to better link the parallel processes yielding international agreements on climate change, disaster risk reduction, and sustainable development.

Design/methodology/approach: This paper explores how the Paris Agreement for climate change relates to disaster risk reduction and sustainable development, demonstrating too much separation amongst the topics. A resolution is provided through placing climate change within wider disaster risk reduction and sustainable development contexts.

Findings: No reason exists for climate change to be separated from wider disaster risk reduction and sustainable development processes.

Research limitations/implications: Based on the research, a conceptual approach for policy and practice is provided. Due to entrenched territory, the research approach is unlikely to be implemented.

Originality/value: Using a scientific basis to propose an ending for the silos separating international processes for climate change, disaster risk reduction, and sustainable development.

Ilan Kelman, (2017) "Linking disaster risk reduction, climate change, and the sustainable development goals", Disaster Prevention and Management: An International Journal, Vol. 26 Issue: 3, pp.254-258, https://doi.org/10.1108/DPM-02-2017-0043