Plenary Statement Science and Technology Major Group

The Scientific and Technological Community Major Group is pleased to see that the value of scientific insights and information for reducing disaster risk and for building resilience – recognised in earlier country, national and regional platform and Major Group statements – is reflected in the Zero Draft.

A detailed review is needed of achievements made and obstacles encountered under HFA, but we wish to signal that as Science and Technology Community we are able and ready to implement the following voluntary commitments, made already by key actors from across the world of science and technology, professional training and higher education, and especially local universities:

  • Communication and engagement – Build closer partnerships and better communication to enhance the use of scientific knowledge –for evidence-based decision-making at all levels of government;
  • Capacity building – Engage to help strengthen capacity—building and to advance risk literacy through curricular reform, in professional training and by life-long learning across all sectors of society;
  • Assessment, monitoring and review – Provide analytical tools to assess and advance our knowledge of underlying risk drivers for more effective monitoring and review, across sectors of society (industry, agriculture etc);
  • Science advice – Provide advisory capabilities across all fields of science, technology and innovation to address, jointly with communities, stakeholders and governments issues that are relevant to them;
  • Actionable research -Develop models for co-design of research that will involve all relevant actors (but which will also require new forms of funding and reward impact on the ground).

We have learned from HFA that in order to stop the increasing rate of loss of lives and livelihoods we, as S&T community, must break down the isolation of scientific knowledge and actively assist governments and others in the uptake and use of this knowledge. This requires fostering deeper and wider partnerships across existing institutions and networks working on DRR science to scale up the application of science to decision-making at all levels, including at national and local levels.

Practical steps are needed: as we approach 2015, we are working on with major groups, and intergovernmental organisations to intensify efforts on the action agenda for science.

We urge governments to embed science in the implementation of the post-2015 framework for DRR. Governments should partner with the scientific community in order to improve the flow of information, data and knowledge across sectors. The scientific community urges countries to establish a work space to operationalise the partnership between governments and the scientific community.

We need to integrate DRR into the post-2015 Development Agenda. Special attention must be paid to supporting SIDS and LDCs as well as vulnerable communities everywhere. International cooperation must support peer learning and knowledge exchange across the many networks, institutes and initiatives in the domain of DRR science. We must ensure that lessons learnt from the full spectrum of knowledge producers are incorporated into monitoring and review processes.

An improved international framework for assessing, synthesising and connecting scientific knowledge for DRR to inform advisory work and monitoring / review functions is key to this. Advancing the use of scientific insights and the understanding of technological options in policy-making and practice through capacity building and communication are necessary underpinning elements.

More specifically, the S&T community are able and ready to take a lead in the following processes in order to create a more transparent environment in which the usefulness of S&T knowledge can be assessed:

  • Firstly, in the transition to the post-2015 framework, a methodology needs to be agreed upon to translate indicators and targets into measurable and comparable datasets for which collection and creation mechanisms may need to be designed (e.g.: disaster loss data; human indicators); particular care must be taken that those countries receive assistance that currently do not have these capacities themselves;
  • Secondly, on the basis of an ongoing mapping of the DRR science landscape, consultative fora need to be convened where stakeholders and owners of other forms of DRR knowledge could jointly identify knowledge gaps (or failures in the use of existing knowledge) that need to be addressed. This would help an agenda setting process where funding tools can better reflect societal needs;
  • Thirdly, and self-critically, the S&T community must subject itself to a periodic review of the remits, functions, resource, delivery and performance of major organisations, networks, and research frameworks that make-up the DRR science and technology landscape. This will help identify gaps and overlaps in the delivery and use of science and technology to build resilience and to identify opportunities and needs for additional investment.
  • Fourthly, peer learning needs to be supported proactively in the area of advisory work where science and technology can advise governments and decision-makers in other sectors. Particular care must be taken to ensure that international coordination mechanisms will support countries with an insufficient science infrastructure can benefit from stronger links with international and regional institutions so as to build national and locally-based capacity over time.

It is, in short, vital that practical steps are taken, such as co-design of research and of educational tools, to ensure that disaster risk reduction science and technology becomes more readily available, is more needs-focused, is directly actionable, and can be effectively used for evidence-based decision-making or for advisory work in support of disaster risk reducing policy-making and practice.

Given the fast changing nature of risks, as well as the rapid evolution of scientific insights and of technological progress that can be useful to reduce these risks and to build resilience, the communication lines between science, policy-making and practice must be open and widely used. This is true in particular for the complex relations between vulnerability and sustainable development, and between climate change adaptation and preparedness for a host of other disaster risks.

This is why the STMG calls upon governments and other stakeholders – engaged in the development of the successor to the Hyogo Framework for Action, committed to seeking an agreement on Sustainable Development Goals and debating formats for Climate Change agreements – to enshrine, comprehensively, a commitment to improved science and technology support for the post-2015 agenda, where the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction can send a powerful early signal for the entire year. Key actors assembled in the STMG are, in turn, committed to respond to requests for critical analysis of, strengthened coordination between, and better knowledge transfer from the many networks, institutes and initiatives – international, regional, national and local, both established and emerging – that produce and teach the science of disaster risk reduction.

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