Alliance for Global Water Adaptation / Deltares / Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit / Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany / High-level Experts and Leaders Panel on Water and Disasters / Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment of the Netherlands / Office of the UNSG's Special Envoy for Disaster Risk Reduction and Water / Stockholm International Water Institute / The World Bank Group / World Water Council

Mastering Disaster in the Anthropocene: Reconciling DRR and Climate Frameworks

Monday 27 August | 16.00-17.30 | Room: L12

Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) policies and actions have made significant progress to ensure early warning, effective risk assessment for extreme events, and coordinated response and recovery processes. The climate adaptation community has also shown progress in identifying novel and emerging threats, as well as the systemic social-ecological interventions necessary to address and reduce long-term risks. Nevertheless, while important work has already been done to connect these agendas in theory, in practice the global bodies of policy (UNISDR and the UNFCCC) and local and regional communities of practice (DRR and climate adaptation) remain largely divided. How do we ensure that DRR policies and institutions can respond to projected climate threats, which will likely require integrated land and water management shifts across large spatial and temporal scales? How can we encourage the UNFCCC and NDC framework to harness disaster preparation and recovery efforts as a mechanism for ensuring long-term adaptation and resilience? This interactive session aims to demonstrate innovative ways that water, which profoundly affects and is affected by climate change and extreme events, can serve as an effective and necessary bridge between the two, aligning both policy and practice at the local and global levels.

Gold standard events are committed to ensure the gender balance in speakers/panellists and young professional representation in the session.


16:00 Welcome: Taeko Yokota, Office of UNSG's Special Envoy for Disaster Risk Reduction and Water

Opening remarks: H.E. Tian Xuebin, Vice Minister, Ministry of Water Resources, People's Republic of China; Benedito Braga, President, World Water Council

16:15 Framing and context for the discussion: Susanne Dorasil, Head of Water, Urban Development, Mobility, BMZ and Paula Kehoe, Director of Water Resources, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission

16:30 Pecha kucha interactive moderated panel discussion 

Moderator: Diego Rodriguez, Senior Water Resources Management Specialist, The World Bank

Rapporteur: Ingrid Timboe, Alliance for Global Water Adaptation (AGWA)


  • Kathleen Dominique, Environmental Economist, OECD 
  • Gisela Kaiser, Executive Director, Water and Sanitation, Cape Town
  • Jonathan Cook, Senior Climate Change Adaptation Specialist, USAID
  • Kenzo Hiroki, UN High Level Experts and Leaders Panel on Water and Disasters (HELP) Coordinator 
  • Alastair Morrison, Senior Water Specialist, Green Climate Fund
  • Paul Fleming, Water Program Manager, Environmental Sustainability Program, Microsoft

17:25 Wrap Up / Closing Remarks: Robert Kranefeld, Junior Advisor, Sustainable Water Policy, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH

17:30 Event Concludes


Disaster risk reduction efforts can help operationalize climate change adaptation, but the time to act is now. Dr. Kenzo Hiroki, coordinator of the UN High-Level Experts and Leaders Panel on Water and Disasters, reminded us that during July 2018 alone there were 26 unusual climatic events spanning five continents and impacting over 50 countries. While not all such events result in disaster, we need to act urgently to address the risks they pose, as well as long-term stressors such as the droughts in the Horn of Africa and northeastern Brazil.

Climate change is transforming the way we think about and manage risk. While efforts to link DRR and climate frameworks and policies remain fragmented, there are strong examples of integration at the local level, where the distinction between these issues is less distinct. Cities like Cape Town and San Francisco are leading the way in proactively working to manage risk and adapt to an unknown water and climate future. They are investing in measures to reduce water demand and improve the resilience of their infrastructure, both green and gray. Elsewhere, cities in Peru and Mexico are investing in ecosystem-based infrastructure to better manage stormwater runoff and water security for local populations. These lessons should be replicated and scaled up into national plans such as in the NDCs and national and local DRR commitments under the Sendai Framework.

Finance is beginning to respond as well, however, DRR funding remains heavily skewed towards recovery efforts when we know that preventative measures are much more cost effective and result in fewer deaths, destruction and displacement over the long term. We heard from several speakers about the need for new and improved financial instruments to manage and mitigate risk in ways that are transparent, adaptive, equitable, and sustainable.


1. At the local level, the distinction between climate change adaptation and DRR is almost purely academic. We need to take the work that local planners, city councils, water managers and civil society organizations are doing to manage these risks and scale them up to national, transboundary, and global levels.

2. To improve long-term outcomes, avoid duplication of effort, fragmentation of investment and possible maladaptation, policymakers need to push for greater coherence between the NDCs, Sendai Framework commitments, and the SDGs. Additionally, countries should use post-disaster recovery processes to build up long-term resilience.

Networks / Tools / Initiatives 

1. The World Bank’s integrated climate risk approach: 

2. U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Global Knowledge Portal for Climate and Development Practitioners:  

3. AGWA’s Knowledge Platform of Bottom-Up approaches to decision-making under uncertainty: 

The Delta Alliance: