Source: World Vision International website.

‘We can contribute in disaster risk reduction’, say hundreds of children and youth in Asia Pacific

The results of the children and youth national consultation workshops, organised and facilitated by a network of child-focused agencies, including UNICEF, World Vision International (WVI), Plan International and Save the Children was used to formulate a children and youth stakeholder group action statement, presented during the closing plenary of the biennial event Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR) 2018 held in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia from 3 – 6 July 2018, by two children and youth representatives.

With the aim to give children and youth a chance to become active stakeholders for promoting their role in inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) efforts within the Asia region the national consultation workshops were organised in Nepal, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, China and Mongolia.

Promoting the inclusive policy, the primary purpose of the consultation workshop was to recognise and ensure the participation of girls, boys and youth as equal stakeholders in planning and implementing DRR processes at all stages and levels, including monitoring of the Sendai Framework. Through focus group discussions, 932 children and youth participated in the consultation and an additional 2,900 children and youth from Myanmar also participated in a social messaging survey.

Meimei Leung, WVI Asia Pacific’s Humanitarian and Emergency Affairs Regional Director, who led World Vision’s regional multi-country delegation at the AMCDRR 2018, says, "Over 90% of children and youth who participated in the consultation workshop were unaware of the Sendai Framework for DRR (SFDRR). But expressed keen willingness to understand and support the implementation and monitoring of SFDRR."

"To get strong a commitment from governments to implement the Sendai Framework in Asia Regional Plans and recognise the meaningful participation of children and youth in decision-making processes, one of the action steps for us, as a network of child-focused agencies, is to ensure evidence-based advocacy so that while developing national and local DRR strategies, policies and programmes children and youth participation would be integrated at all levels. We need to invest in building their capacity on DRR and Climate Change Adaptation (CCA), equipping them with information, knowledge and skills to mobilise themselves as agents of change," she adds.

World Vision was among the 1,500 organisations that came together to review challenges in Asia Pacific region on reducing disaster losses through increasing action at the local level and to continue the progress made by the partnership between government, organisations and stakeholders to operationalise the Asia Regional Plan.

The Deputy Prime Minister of Mongolia, Enkhtuvshin Ulziisaikhan while highlighting the disaster risk in Asia Pacific, being greater than any other region, and emphasising on a strong focus on disaster-resilient infrastructure, in national plans, to implement the global plan for reducing disaster losses.

He said, "This conference is about reducing and mitigating the risk of disasters and aligning risk reduction activities with the Sustainable Development Goals. We will take stock of the progress achieved in implementing the Sendai Framework at the regional and national levels, as well as discuss and adopt the Action Plan for the Asian Region in 2018-2020, and the Ulaanbaatar Declaration on Disaster Risk Reduction."

The Action Plan 2018-2020 calls for the integration of DRR into disaster preparedness planning, ensuring comprehensive and accessible service and referral mechanisms to promote the specific needs of women and girls, children and youth, the older persons, persons with disabilities and other at-risk populations, including prevention of and response to gender-based violence.

As part of the commitment to implement the Action Plan 2018-2020, World Vision will focus on DRR systems strengthening by enhancing capacities of governments, CSOs, private sector, children and youth, and other stakeholders to ensure children and youth friendly DRR-CCA initiatives along with promoting innovation in disaster preparedness and response such as collecting disaggregated and real-time data, climate risk management, and integration of relevant solutions for developing new technologies and methods for DRR with/for children and youth.

"As suggested by the children and youth, we also need to build their capacity to use technology and media, as a tool, to spread awareness about DRR and mobilise their peers and community to further participate in DRR processes. Through our existing DRR in-country programmes, we are already investing in child forums and platforms to ensure children and youth participation in DRR-CCA and other child well-being related issues in Asia Pacific Region," says Meimei Leung.