Forum on Advancing Science and Technology in the Implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015 - 2030

Jul 19, 2016

Yang Berbahagia Professor Tan Sri Zakri Abdul Hamid, Science Adviser to the Prime Minister of Malaysia,

Yang Berusaha Encik Mohd Ariff bin Bahrom, Deputy Director General, Planning and Preparedness Sector, Malaysia National Disaster Management Agency (NADMA),

Ir. Bernardus Wisnu Widjaja, Deputy Minister for Prevention and Preparedness, Indonesia National Disaster Management Authority,

Professor Virginia Murray, Chair of UNISDR Science and Technology Conference 2016, and Consultant in Global Disaster Risk Reduction, Public Health England

Anthony Capon, Director, United Nations University – International Institute for Global Health

Distinguished speakers,

Senior officials and representatives from government agencies, academia, civil society, private sector and students,

Colleagues from the United Nations Country Team,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

A very good morning to all of you.

I am delighted to welcome you all, on behalf of United Nations University -  International Institute for Global Health and the United Nations Development Programme, to today’s Forum on Advancing Science and Technology in the Implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the launch of the of the Supplement Issue of the Asia Pacific Journal of Public Health on Global Environmental Change and Human Health.

This Forum represents an important interdisciplinary discourse on climate change, disaster risk reduction and human health.  It also highlights the importance of bridging the gap and leveraging science, technology and innovation for development policy, planning and implementation. The complexity of our networked world and the challenge of a new comprehensive and ambitious integrated global development agenda call for interdisciplinary approaches and a better understanding of the synergies and trade-offs among development actions as we accelerate efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

The 2030 Agenda, Sendai Framework and Science & Technology

2015 was indeed a momentous year.  The global community spoke in one voice and adopted the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Climate Agreement, and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Sustainable Development. And then later in 2016, complemented this ambitious agenda to transform our world with the outcomes of the first ever World Humanitarian Summit, which represented “a singular opportunity”, as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said, “to stand together and deliver a message that we will not accept the erosion of humanity that we see in the world today”.

Staying on task to achieve these goals, and consistently monitoring progress, will be a big undertaking for all countries.  But the good news is that with will, effort, vision, adequate and predictable financing, and better bridging of the science-policy interface and leveraging of technology and innovation, we can realise the ambitions of our 2030 agenda.  

As we look out to 2030, STI is the fulcrum for economic and social progress, environmental protection, and our transition to renewable and new energy sources.  It is also the pivot for climate change mitigation and adaptation, disaster risk reduction efforts, resilience building, and preserving biodiversity and terrestrial and aquatic health.  STI is also a key driver of industrial diversification and value addition to commodities, finding more sustainable patterns of consumption and production, ensuring food security, good nutrition, and health and well-being for all, and empowering people to shape their own future. STI permeates all 17 SDGs.

Today, through the keynote address of Professor Virginia Murray and dialogue with our esteemed panellists who appropriately come from academia, Industry and Technology, Government and international development partners, we will focus in particular on how science, technology and innovation will best support decision-making in disaster risk reduction and the implementation of the Sendai Framework by 2030.  As we launch the supplement issue of the Asia Pacific Journal of Public Health, we also will discuss the complex connections between climate change, disaster risk, urban systems and human health, and the case for systems approaches in mitigation, management and response.

Science and Policy Interface

In conclusion, a growing number of development issues are of a multi-dimensional and cross-sectoral nature. This higher degree of complexity often requires a greater need for scientific input, scientific assessment, and scientific modelling in the policy making processes.  Yet science and other forms of knowledge are not used effectively in policymaking; and policymakers do not always effectively inform scientists about their needs for scientific knowledge.

One of the biggest misconceptions when thinking about the science-policy interface is that science policy communication follows a ‘linear model’, which assumes that policy makers pose questions, and then scientists feed in the appropriate evidence so that policy makers can make well informed decisions. This type of situation is largely uncommon, as science and policy are both complex activities that are not so straightforward in their approaches to solving problems.

I have learned two lessons through development practice:

First, we should communicate science in the realm of policy and practice, all along the research process, where the results will be understood and put to use by practitioners in government, civil society, international organizations, media, and the private sector.

Second, academicians should regularly consult with practitioners throughout the research process to improve the quality of their research, make learning a two-way exchange between these communities, and avoid missing key data points or key contextual points. Identifying our starting points, as well as stimulating and pressing questions, is something we must do together.

This Forum, we hope, will put more tools in our tool box on how to better bridge this science-policy interface, and do better systems thinking and futures building toward achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and other 2030 ambitions.

I wish us fruitful exchange and an excellent forum.

Thank you.

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