Remarks by Dr Elias Sithole
Head: National Disaster Management Centre (South Africa)
on the occasion of the 5h Meeting of the BRICS Joint Task Force on Disaster Management held on 7 September 2023, in eThekwini, South Africa
Programme Director, Director General-Department of Traditional Affairs -Mr Diphofa
Director General of the KwaZulu Natal Province- Dr Mkhize
City Manager- eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality- Mr Mbhele
Director General -Department of Cooperative Governance-Mr Mbulelo Tshangana
Chairperson of the NATJOINTS Lt Gen- Mosikili
Leadership of SALGA at all levels
Deputy President of DMISA- Ms Lebogang Mosotho
Representatives of BRICS Member States
Members of the media
Ladies and Gentleman
Firstly, allow me to appreciate the opportunity to join you today for the 5th meeting of the BRICS JOINT TASK FORCE FOR DISASTER MANAGEMENT. It is my honour and privilege to welcome you in the 5th meeting of the JTF where we have gathered to discuss mechanisms on how we, as representatives of our great nations strengthen our collaboration in our joint goal of making our communities safer from the effects and impact of disaster.
This gathering today brings to life the disaster management theme – “Disaster Management is everybody’s business”, which encourage all people to join hands to make our people resilience to disasters.
We are delighted that this year, the meeting of the Joint Task Force for Disaster Management is held in South Africa, under the Theme: Strengthening post pandemic socio-economic recovery, in the BRICS countries. This theme is informed by two of the five cabinet approved priorities which are: (i) Strengthening Post-Pandemic Socio-Economic Recovery and the Attainment of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, and (ii) Transforming Education and Skills Development for the Future. The identified theme and its related priorities resonate well with Priority 4 of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction which advocates for “enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response, and to ‘build back better’ in recovery, rehabilitation, and reconstruction”, as well as Priority 3 of the SFDRR which is, “Investing in disaster risk reduction for resilience”.
The theme therefore not only brings to life the aspirations made in previous Ministerial declarations but ushers in the belief that through our ongoing collaboration in the field of disaster management we can build resilient communities through our exchanges of information on best practices, the adoption of climate change adaptation initiatives, the integration of indigenous knowledge systems, improving investments in early warning systems and disaster resilient infrastructure, amongst others. Through holistic inclusivity in disaster risk reduction by investing in the mainstreaming of disaster risk reduction in government and community-based planning, we will yield the reduction results we seek.
The past Joint Task Force meetings agreed to continue working towards taking forward the commitments of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 (SFDRR), the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The current meeting also finds traction in the previous Joint Task Force meetings by also strengthening the message that indeed through our combined efforts and collaboration as the BRICS countries, action to build resilience is possible and can accelerate achievement of current sustainable development targets in a way that safeguards people, the planet and future prosperity. BRICS member states need to move away from commitment to action, through a shared vision to play a proactive and responsible role in regional and global disaster governance. Making risk-informed choices is a cost-effective investment towards resilience building and adaptation. Our situations have proven that the costs for response, recovery and rehabilitation of hazard and disaster impacts are huge and more than the costs of hazard and disaster prevention.
Our engagements today and those of our ministers that will take place tomorrow demonstrate that our relationships, built on a strong foundation of mutual trust and respect, are not only growing but may soon be expanded to include Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Through these expanding multilateral engagements, we are truly building a world that is going to be sustainable, safer and better for us all.
Today, we embark on a journey through a program that was carefully crafted to address the most pressing challenges in disaster management, particularly in the context of the BRICS nations. Our agenda is rich with insights and expertise, and it is my privilege to provide you with an overview of what this program entails.
We will delve into a critical self-assessment of our progress since the Fourth Joint Task Force Meeting for Disaster Management. Our esteemed panel members for the two identified thematic areas will share their experiences and lessons learned, thereby setting the stage for a robust discussion.
We will also focus on cascading and systemic risks, particularly those linked to COVID-19 and other hazards. Our experts will explore risk management and recovery pathways in a multi-risk context. From impact-based early warnings to data and information management during disasters, we will gain valuable insights into safeguarding lives and livelihoods.
Building resilience is a theme that permeates our program. From discussions on resilient infrastructure in the aftermath of disasters to funding mechanisms for recovery and rehabilitation, we will explore the critical elements of building back better.
Education plays a pivotal role in disaster preparedness, and our program includes a segment dedicated to integrating disaster management into the education system across BRICS countries. This includes professionalising disaster management as a field of study, enhancing local government capacity, and ensuring disaster risk management is an integral part of our school systems.
In addition to these substantive discussions, we will also explore proposals for collaboration among BRICS member states. The strength of our collective efforts cannot be underestimated.
Lastly, we will be honoured to receive keynote addresses from leaders of our BRICS nations, setting the tone for this program and offering their invaluable perspectives on disaster management.
To kick start the programme, the Director-General of the Department of Cooperative Governance in South Africa, will deliver an opening address that will focus on the south African priorities on Transforming Education and Skills Development for the Future and Strengthening Post-Pandemic Socio-Economic Recovery and the Attainment of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.
With that said, let me take this opportunity to introduce to you, The Director-General, Mr. Mbulelo Tshangana. Mr Tshangana is an accomplished executive manager having worked in various strategic roles in the National and Provincial government and the Development Bank of South Africa. He holds a Master of Arts in Population and Development Studies from the Institute of Social Studies in the Netherlands and has an Honours Degree in Development Studies from the University of the Western Cape.
Director-General, over to you, sir.