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The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction is a voluntary United Nations agreement which was signed by 187 UN member states. It offers governments the opportunity to enhance their disaster risk reduction capacities by ensuring a role for multi-hazard management of disaster risk in all countries, at all scales and across all sectors. It covers all hazards and disaster scenarios such as: small-scale and large-scale, frequent and infrequent, sudden and slow-onset, caused by natural or man-made hazards as well as related environmental, technological and biological hazards and risks.

Yet, rather than focusing exclusively on the response to emergencies, it recognizes that by reducing and managing conditions of hazard, exposure, and vulnerability — while building the capacity of communities and countries for prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery —losses and impacts from disasters can be effectively alleviated. By 2030, the framework calls for: ‘The substantial reduction of disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods and health and in the economic, physical, social, cultural and environ-mental assets of persons, businesses, communities and countries.’Loss data underpins all effective activity in disaster risk reduction and emergency management.

In the words of Margareta Wahlström, the former Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction and Chief of UNISDR: “Access to information is critical to successful disaster risk management. You cannot manage what you cannot measure.”

Nonetheless, understanding what is currently lost or affected by disasters is highly complex. The number and scope of organisations and disciplines involved in disasters is large, and the different ways in which they approach loss measurement can prove challenging to manage. Historically, there has been wide variance in the assessment methods of disaster impact as different definitions, data sources and methods have been employed, resulting in data which cannot be easily compared geographically or over time.

The Sendai Framework was adopted in 2015, the same year that several other UN Landmark agreements were launched, including: the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), COP21’s Paris Climate Conference, the World Humanitarian Summit and Habitat III. Many of these agreements have been borne out of previous incarnations. Yet, the synchronous adoption of these multiple international agreements is some-what unprecedented, and has helped to both create momentum as well as the unique opportunity to coordinate and build coherence across overlapping policy areas. For example, the global increase of natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, riverine flooding, cyclonic winds, storms, droughts, and heat waves is related to climate change. In this regard, climate change acts as a ‘force multiplier’, exacerbating many of the world’s global health challenges; climate change mitigation and adaptation will therefore be an important component of disaster risk reduction strategies. Furthermore, natural hazards are global, on the increase, and under-mine poverty eradication and economic resilience. Reducing the risk of disasters will be critical to the achievement of sustainable development.

The Sendai Framework and SDGs are associated with established goals and indicators, which can be used by countries to monitor their progress in addressing global challenges. Not only do explicit goals and indicators help to shed a spotlight on concerns which are universal to all countries, they can act as a catalyst to accelerate change; their high public profile helps to attract political commitment and financial resources.

However, in order for countries to report their progress against these, robust data and information systems will be crucial. Currently, data systems cannot fulfill reporting requirements, mandating a call for ‘a data revolution, rigorous accountability mechanisms and renewed global partnerships’. Joined-up monitoring processes which track progress on the implementation of frameworks will not only help minimize the reporting burden on countries, but will make data collection more feasible as well as practical, in terms of making use of limited resources. The purpose of this policy brief is therefore to discuss how governments can achieve coherence between data reporting against the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the SDGs.