WMO side events at RIO+20
High Level Meeting on National Drought Policy (HMNDP) - Detailed programme
Droughts produce a large number of socio-economic impacts which may arise from the interaction between natural conditions and human factors. There is growing evidence that the magnitude and the frequency of droughts increasing around the world, especially in the arid and semi-arid regions which are seasonally prone to droughts.
The context of current droughts calls for pro-active future actions to cope with droughts. National governments must adopt policies that engender cooperation and coordination at all levels of governments in order to increase their capacity to cope with extended periods of water shortages due to drought. Despite the repeated occurrences of droughts throughout human history and the large impacts on different socio-economic sectors, no concerted efforts have ever been made to initiate a dialogue on the formulation and adoption of national drought policies.
The time is ripe for nations to move forward with the development of a pro-active, risk-based national drought policy. Without a coordinated, national drought policy that includes effective monitoring and early warning systems to deliver timely information to decision makers, effective impact assessment procedures, pro-active risk management measures, preparedness plans aimed at increasing the coping capacity, and effective emergency response programs directed at reducing the impacts of drought, nations will continue to respond to drought in a reactive, crisis management mode.
In order to address the issue of national drought policy, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Congress at its Sixteenth Session held in Geneva from 16 May to 3 June 2011 recommended the organization of a "High Level Meeting on National Drought Policy (HMNDP)". Accordingly, WMO and the Secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), in collaboration with a number of UN Agencies, International and Regional Organizations and key national agencies, plan to organize the HMNDP in Geneva in March 2013.
The thematic focus of the side event is encouraging countries, specially those in the Arid and Semi-Arid Regions which are prone to frequent occurrences of droughts, to develop and adopt National Drought Policies. Speakers in this side event include the following:
Also, there will be a panel discussion at the end of the side event which includes Dr Mohammed Baza (FAO), Dr Siegfried Demuth (UNESCO) and Dr John Harding (UNISDR).
Conclusions and recommendations from this side event will contribute towards the outcome of UNCSD/Rio+20 by focusing on the formulation of national policies that can contribute to poverty alleviation, food security and sustainable development. The implementation of a drought policy can alter a nation?s approach to drought management.
In the past decade, drought policy and preparedness has received increasing attention from governments, international and regional organizations, and nongovernmental organizations. Simply stated, a national drought policy should establish a clear set of principles or operating guidelines to govern the management of drought and its impacts. The policy should be consistent and equitable for all regions, population groups, and economic sectors and consistent with the goals of sustainable development. The overriding principle of drought policy should be an emphasis on risk management through the application of preparedness and mitigation measures.
The goals of a national drought policy described above could contribute immensely to poverty alleviation, economic development, and societal and environmental wellbeing as a whole, especially in the developing countries. Consequently, it would be most useful if a high level dialogue on the national drought policies could be initiated to ensure that government actions transcend far beyond the conventional reactive approaches. In fact, it has been demonstrated that traditional drought assistance or relief programs actually result in less self-reliance and more dependence on governments, increasing the vulnerability of sectors to future drought events. If more acceptable results are to be achieved in dealing with droughts, a new approach should be taken and a new attitude adopted. A high level meeting could help develop such a new approach through development of a common understanding of the issues involved, discussing the different approaches that could be incorporated into a national drought policy and finally, establishing a framework of a national drought policy that could help all the nations around the world.
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