Effective law and regulation for disaster risk reduction

A partnership initiative of IFRC and UNDP

Can laws make communities safer from disasters?

In June 2011, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the United Nations Development Programme commenced a partnership to address key questions on law and disaster risk reduction, such as:

• What is the role of legislation in reducing risk?
• What works well and what does not?
• How can laws be improved to have greater impact?
In 2014 they launched the largest comparative study of legislation for disaster risk reduction undertaken to date: Effective law and regulations for disaster risk reduction: a multi-country report. In December 2015, they launched The Checklist on Law and Disaster Risk Reduction and The Handbook on Law and Disaster Risk Reduction at the 32nd International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent

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The Checklist on Law and Disaster Risk Reduction

Drawing from the findings of their multi-country report, UNDP and IFRC developed the Checklist on Law and Disaster Risk Reduction (The Checklist).

The Checklist provides a prioritized and succinct list of ten key questions that lawmakers, implementing officials, and those supporting them need to consider in order to ensure that their laws provide the best support for disaster risk reduction. It is designed to serve as an assessment tool to guide a review process of national and local level laws and regulations that can enhance disaster risk reduction.

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The Handbook on Law and Disaster Risk Reduction

The Handbook on Law and Disaster Risk Reduction (the Handbook) was developed to provide guidance on how to use the Checklist and conduct related legislative reviews and reform processes for disaster risk reduction, drawing on the lessons of a number of countries who have either recently undergone legislative review processes, or sought to use the Checklist in their own context during the pilot process.

The Handbook sets out the rationale for each Checklist question, the issues to consider in order to respond effectively to the question, examples of good practice, and relevant standards set by the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

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Effective law and regulation for disaster risk reduction: a multi-country report

Over the past 20 years, disasters due to natural hazards have affected 4.4 billion people, claimed 1.3 million lives and caused 2 trillion US dollars in economic losses. These disasters not only brought death and destruction, they did so disproportionately to the poor and marginalized. They have become one of the main threats to sustainable development on a global scale, yet they are preventable.

Today, it is well accepted that the actions and decisions of individuals, communities and nations make a significant difference as to whether or not a natural hazard turns into a disaster. There is widespread agreement that legal frameworks are a critical tool for governments to shape these choices, both for themselves and for others. This report explores how the laws in 31 countries have taken on this task, analysing both disaster-specific laws as well as areas of legislation that do not refer directly to disaster risk, but which can play a key role in making communities safer. It is hoped that it will support legislators, public administrators, practitioners and advocates to promote, prepare and implement effective legal frameworks for disaster risk management.

Study countries

This project examined a total of 31 countries, through a combination of desk surveys and case studies

The desk surveys compile information about the scope and coverage of existing disaster-specific and sectoral laws in the country. They are based entirely on library and internet research and it is therefore possible that they contain inaccuracies and/or incomplete information. 
Algeria, Angola, Australia (national level), Australia (Victoria), Austria, China (national level), China (Hong Kong), Ethiopia, Guatemala, India (national level), India (Odisha), India (Punjab), Italy, Japan, Kenya, Madagascar, Namibia, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Philippines, St Lucia, Ukraine, Uruguay, USA (national level), USA (Illinois), USA (Louisiana), Vanuatu, Viet Nam

The case studies include information not only about the text of the laws but also about experiences with the development and implementation of the laws. For the case studies, field visits were undertaken and legal information was validated with key stakeholders. In some countries, both a desk survey and a case study were carried out.
Brazil, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Iraq, Madagascar, Mexico, Namibia, Nepal, New Zealand, Nicaragua, South Africa, Viet Nam

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