Speech at final consultation for draft law on disaster risk management

May 14, 2013

Speaker:  UNDP Country Director, Ms. Louise Chamberlain
Date:       Tuesday 14 May 2013
Event:      Final consultation for draft law on disaster risk management
Location: NA Guesthouse, 27A Tran Hung Dao, Ha Noi

Your Excellency, Mr. Phan Xuân Dũng, Chairman of the National Assembly Committee of Science, Technology and Environment
Your Excellency, Mr. Nguyễn Vĩnh Hà, Chairman of the National Assembly Committee of Science, Technology and Environment
Your Excellency, Mr. Nguyễn Xuân Diệu, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development
Honorable Deputies of the National Assembly,
Representatives from ministries and provinces,
Colleagues from donors and development partners,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I begin with expressing my appreciation to the Committee of Science, Technology and Environment of the National Assembly for organizing this consultation on the draft Law for disaster risk management at this critical juncture of its finalization, and for giving me the opportunity to say a few opening words.

The National Assembly’s final review and approval of this important Law over the coming weeks coincides with two important international and regional agendas for disaster risk reduction. The post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction will be discussed by leaders from the 164 member countries of the Hyogo Framework of Action at the 14th Global Platform in Geneva, and the post-2015 framework for ASEAN will be initiated and discussed at the Second Meeting of the Conference of the ASEAN Member Parties to the Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response in Ha Noi at the end of May. These development agendas will have implications on legal frameworks of country members.

We are very encouraged to see the advanced version draft Law presented to the Committee which has effectively incorporated many recommendations made in our joint workshop on sharing international experience in November 2012, in which best practices, experiences and lessons from Bangladesh and Indonesia were presented.

The latest version includes a number of new crucial provisions, for example on upgrading the Central Committee for Flood and Storm Control (CCFSC) to be the Central Committee for Disaster Prevention and Control, establishment of a permanent secretariat to support the Committee, the establishment of provincial trust fund for disaster risk management, and on the participation of the private sector.

Distinguished Deputies and Members of this Forum,

I would like to highlight five areas of particular relevance to the content of the Law, for discussion in today’s meeting.

First of all, recognizing the importance of the risk assessment as a key tool for disaster risk management, the Law should, provide for a practical allocation of roles and responsibilities among ministries to ensure high quality risk assessments and utilization of results. The internationally recognized definition of “risk” should also be utilized– risk is the probability of harmful consequences, or expected losses resulting from interactions between hazards and vulnerable conditions – in order to facilitate comparability and clarity in international coordination in all aspects of planning and responding to disaster

Risk assessment in this context is exceedingly complicated – dependent on a combination and interaction among various inter-linked factors. For this reason, risk assessment, risk identification and definition of risk zones are therefore best done by an agency that possesses in-depth knowledge of disaster risk reduction, disaster risk management, and the national disaster inventory system. Other agencies should provide high quality and timely inputs.

Secondly, groups identified as vulnerable to disaster should be recognized as competent actors and protagonists rather than victims. People in disaster prone areas are able to prepare to protect themselves and both individually and collectively make significant contributions if they are equipped with the necessary skills and suitable facilities. The Law should identify people at risk of being affected by disasters and embrace measures to support them in planning for all stages of disaster risk management, especially also in preparation and recovery, whereas the current draft Law has included appropriate measures at the response stage. It is particularly important to distinguish between, and recognize, the different roles and responsibilities of women and men in all stages, in order to ensure that implementation of the law effectively mainstreams gender. The responsibilities for this at the local level must also be clearly defined, including ensuring that perspectives of women influence decision making.

Thirdly, while the Law now provides clarity on the role of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in calling for external support for response and recovery, it should also include unambiguous and clearly-defined triggers.  It should build on the existing institutional mechanisms to swiftly call upon international assistance – in the event of a disaster that overwhelms the national response capacity – without legal or administrative impediment. As we all know, once disaster strikes, time is of the essence in mobilizing support to minimize the loss of lives, in particular.

Fourthly, the Law should further define specific incentives and mechanisms to realize the participation of the private sector as it holds vast amounts of investment potential and modern technology. The private sector requires cohesive, transparent policies and practices, and a level playing field to consider its investments.

Finally, to support the affective implementation and oversight of the Law, there should be periodic reports on disaster risk assessment. 

Honourable National Assembly members;

We are pleased to see that many of these issues are highlighted in the final appraisal document of the current draft Law, as prepared by the Committee of Science, Technology and Environment for final review by the Standing Committee next week. I hope that the suggestions and discussions today will contribute constructively to the final revision for National Assembly approval of this important Law for the country.

On behalf of the United Nations organizations supporting disaster risk mitigation in Viet Nam, including UNDP, UNICEF, UNWOMEN, UNOCHA, I would like to reaffirm our commitment to continue supporting the implementation of the Law in the future.

Chúc các đại biểu sức khoẻ và thành công.  Xin cảm ơn.