March 15, 2015
Sendai International Center, Miyagi, Japan
The Japan International Cooperation Agency, JICA shares the same view with all leaders here today that the biggest challenge is how to mainstream disaster risk reduction in development agenda. Mainstreaming entails (1) increasing the level of priority put on disaster risk reduction in national policies, (2) incorporating a disaster risk reduction perspective into projects in all sectors, such as building earthquake resistant schools, and (3) promoting investment in disaster risk reduction. As Minister Kishida mentioned earlier, investing in disaster risk reduction measures is a particularly important element of mainstreaming.
I would like to stress that the most important driving force for mainstreaming disaster risk reduction is country ownership and leadership. This is true for all sectors, but it is particularly critical in the field of disaster risk reduction, because returns to investment are not easily visible. Therefore, to implement effective and concrete measures, leaders must understand the importance of disaster risk reduction and be motivated by strong political will. According to the UNDP, one dollar spent on investing in disaster risk reduction prevents 7 dollars-worth of economic losses. Disaster risk reduction should be seen not as a cost to economic growth, but rather as a valuable asset for the country. I strongly hope that all of the ministers present here today share this view and spearhead the initiative to mainstream disaster risk reduction in their respective countries.
As part of JICA’s efforts to mainstream disaster risk reduction, we have been trying to approach all of our projects through a disaster risk reduction lens. A typical example is the disaster risk assessment we conduct during the design stage of infrastructure projects. Our experience shows that these assessments significantly help promote understanding among the government and people of each country about the need to take disaster risk reduction measures. Through this process, we are able to show stakeholders the various risks associated with disasters in a quantitative, visual and objective manner. I would like to take this opportunity to propose the further promotion of disaster risk assessments as a concrete means of encouraging investments in disaster risk reduction.
Lastly, I would like to assure you that, as Japan’s comprehensive development institution, JICA will make every effort to support the implementation of "Sendai Cooperation Initiative for Disaster Risk Reduction" that Minister Kishida outlined today.