Faith actors call for increased local resilience to disasters

The Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (GPDRR) starts today in Geneva, Switzerland. Global leaders and stakeholders will discuss the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the first major agreement of the post-2015 development agenda.

ACT Alliance, a global network of churches and religious organisations present in more than 140 countries, is extremely concerned about the growing impacts of climate disasters on the most vulnerable communities.

As the people in Mozambique and Malawi try to pick themselves up from the catastrophic effects of cyclones Idai and Kenneth, the international community has yet to concretely put measures in place to prevent loss of lives and livelihoods in the wake of disasters. ACT Alliance is on the ground in Southern Africa supporting affected communities through its network of national and local faith actors.

Jeroen Jurriens, ACT Alliance head of delegation to the GPDRR said: “It is disheartening to see the trends of intensified hazards for local communities. Increasing scientific evidence shows that climate-induced disasters will get worse, while the ability of communities in developing countries to cope and bounce back remains limited”.

The recently launched Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction says that ‘surprise is the new normal’. Climate change is a ‘great risk amplifier’ and efforts to protect the most vulnerable must be scaled-up.

Local communities rely on faith leaders and actors as part of their coping mechanism in times of disasters. Rudelmar Bueno de Faria, General Secretary of ACT Alliance said: ‘70% of our members are from the Global South. It is through their voices, first- hand experiences and concerns that ACT Alliance calls for urgent action on addressing the root causes of disasters, which include climate change and growing inequalities”.

Faith-based groups are key to the localization of risk reduction, resilience-building and humanitarian action because they are among those at the first line of defense in preventing avoidable disasters. They are also among first responders in emergencies providing shelter during evacuation, basic needs (i.e. food, water, clothing, shelter) of those affected during emergencies, and social capital for healing and recovery.

Jeroen Jurriens said: “We hope that the deliberations at this year’s GPDRR will provide the necessary steps forward towards the implementation of the Sendai Framework to adequately respond to the multiplicity of hazards and risks, especially those posed by climate change. The world owes it to the most vulnerable and we must take action and increase our efforts”.

Please, find here the official Joint Faith-Based Organizations (FBOs) Statement for the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (GPDRR)