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PBV at the GNDR (Global Network of Civil Society Organisations for Disaster Reduction) conference in the Hague, Netherlands

April 11, 2013

PBV’s Takashi Yamamoto attended the GNDR (Global Network of Civil Society Organisations for Disaster Reduction) conference organised by the United Nations in the Hague, Netherlands on March 20th and 21st.

There were 130 individuals in attendance, including special representatives of the ISDR (International Strategy for Disaster Reduction).

One of PBV’s main goals at this conference was to share the  experiences and lessons learned in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake with members of the international community, creating a stronger knowledge base for future disaster reduction strategies.

There were 4 representatives from 3 Japan-based organisations in attendance; Church World Service Asia-Pacific, JANIC and PBV.

This conference served as an opportunity for PBV’s Yamamoto to make a presentation about the crucial relationship between communities resilient to disasters and the role of disaster relief volunteers.

As natural disasters are so frequent in Japan, the overall system of coordinating and dispatching volunteers has been through many stages of trial-and-error, resulting in the formation of a unique system.

This is highlighted by the relationship between NPOs/NGOs and the state-run social welfare councils (or shakyo) in disaster relief volunteerism, which may be unfamiliar to the wider international community.

In 2005, 10 years after the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) was announced and the HAP (Humanitarian Accountability Partnership) Standards for humanitarian aid workers emerged in the same period. However, the role of disaster relief volunteers is still vastly under-represented in these documents.

With PBV’s experience in the field as well as the efforts of the thousands of volunteers who have volunteered with the organization, it is a high priority that we share our knowledge and experiences with the rest of the world.


*1 Hyogo Framework for Action

The Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) is the first plan to explain, describe and detail the work that is required from all different sectors and actors to reduce disaster losses. It was developed and agreed on by many partners needed to reduce disaster risk – governments, international agencies, disaster experts and many others – bringing them into a common system of coordination. The HFA outlines five priorities for action, and offers guiding principles and practical means for achieving disaster resilience. Its goal is to substantially reduce disaster losses by the year 2015. The strategy relies upon building the resilience of nations and communities to disasters. This means reducing the loss of human life, as well as social, economic, and environmental assets when disasters strike.


*2 Resilient

The word resilience, in this context, refers to the ability to evade and/or mitigate the damage caused by disasters. This includes not only physically preventative measures and methods of disaster risk reduction, but also comprehensive education and training of communities in non-disaster times to raise awareness and encourage preparedness.