The BRICS Joint Task Force (JTF) takes place at a time when member states and the global community are most affected by disasters, including the adverse effects of climate change, biodiversity loss, desertification, and the after-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The natural climate variability, human-induced climate change, including more frequent and intense extreme events, have caused widespread adverse impacts and related losses and damages to nature and people.

Researchers have confirmed that the frequency and intensity of disasters are increasing. In the past 20 years, climate-related disasters have almost doubled and developing countries need an estimated $70 billion annually for adaptation. While BRICS countries and the world at large might be working tirelessly on developments and adaptation efforts to reduce vulnerabilities, the rise in weather and climate extremes are leading to some irreversible impacts as natural and human systems are pushed beyond their ability to adapt.

These seemingly dire circumstances can actually be perceived as opportunities for strengthening efforts in the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR) at all levels and to establish the necessary coherence across disaster risk reduction effortsto prevent the creation of new risks and achieve sustainable development. It is in our best interest as BRICS countries to remain committed to the priorities of the Sendai Framework for disaster risk reduction by employing all efforts to understanding disaster risk, strengthening disaster risk governance to manage disaster risk, investing in disaster risk reduction for resilience, enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response and to “Build Back Better” in recovery, rehabilitation, and reconstruction.

Chair, it is of importance to indicate that this significant meeting comes shortly after the high-level meeting of the Midterm Review of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction which was held from 18-19 May 2023 in New York, United States of America (USA). The aim of the high-level meeting was to assess progress on integration of Disaster Risk Reduction into policies, programmes, and investments at all levels, identify good practices, gaps and challenges and accelerate the path to achieving the outcome and goal of the SFDRR and its seven global targets by 2030. with due acknowledgement that Member States are at varying stages of implementation and inherent efficiency, the meeting recommended reiterated that commitment and efforts of traditional disaster risk reduction stakeholders, as well as novel collaborations with other stakeholders, are needed to correct course and ensure that the Sendai Framework is fully realised by 2030.

The process revealed commitment to the realisation of the guiding principles of the Framework, in particular, the importance of governing and managing risk in a manner that develops “all-of-society engagement and partnership”  for the effectiveness and equity of disaster risk reduction actions with “all State institutions of an executive and legislative nature” at the national and subnational levels at the core of actions to achieve the Framework by 2030. Recommended activities encompass all sectors of society and levels of government, connecting areas as diverse as food and energy systems, water security, poverty, climate change and conflict, with the Sendai Framework seen as an opportunity to promote convergence, enhance inclusion and create equitable outcomes across societies

As populations continue to grow, and consequences of climate breakdown manifest in socioecological and technological systems, societies are best with ever-increasing challenges. The interconnections and interdependencies that exist between water, energy, food, health, trade and financial systems are both displaying vulnerabilities and generating risks that, when left unaddressed, can manifest as shocks characterised by local to global to local contagion, with impacts that can cascade and compound through time and space. Natural resources such as water, soil and energy are becoming scarcer, lands and marine ecosystems are being rapidly degraded, biodiversity is declining, and income and gender inequities are intensifying, with gaps more acute in the world’s most vulnerable countries and regions. The threat of climate change is also too real to ignore, however. there is knowledge, courage and solidarity amongst the BRICS, and therefore, we will perceive these circumstances as an opportunity.

In keeping with advancement of the SFDRR, the meeting of the Joint Task Force for Disaster Management assumes the  Theme:Strengthening post pandemic socio-economic recovery, in the BRICS countries.   Towards actualisation of this theme, it is essential for the BRICS member states 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. Experience has taught us  that the costs for response, recovery and rehabilitation of hazard and disaster impacts are much more than the costs of hazard and disaster prevention.

Excellencies and Distinguished Delegates, South Africa has made progress in the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction through various measures and is poised to learn and cooperate with BRICS countries to share insights. The Disaster Management Act recognises the wide-ranging opportunities in SA to avoid and reduce disaster losses through the concerted energies and efforts of all spheres of government, civil society, and the private sector. However, it also acknowledges the crucial need for uniformity in the approach taken by such a diverse pool of role players and partners. We are therefore encouraging our sector departments to use the legislative instruments already at our disposal, to effectively reduce the risk of disasters across all sectors and spheres of government and build resilience of our communities. The commitment to disaster risk reduction should be addressed with “a renewed sense of urgency in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication and integrated into policies, plans, programmes and budgets at all levels”. Equally, the integration of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) strategies within the disaster management plans, development plans and Spatial plans sustainable development policies and programming is necessary towards reducing creation of new disaster risks and building resilient communities.

Amongst a range of instruments our government that is utilising for integrated planning is the District Development Model (DDM). The adoption of this model makes the case for a ‘One Plan, One Budget’ system practical; and the ongoing institutionalisation and mainstreaming of Disaster Risk Reduction into strategies, plans and programmes feasible. Given how our country and its provinces are affected by climate change related risks, this approach of integrated planning becomes even more relevant and urgent towards achieving “Disaster Risk-Informed Development for a Resilient Country.

Today our ministers will be deliberating on resolutions recommended by the Joint Task force to further enhance the Joint Action Plan that will also be adopted today. The ministers will also provide  respective  perspective of the key thematic areas of the 2023 meetings. The proceedings will be concluded and affirmed through a declaration of the Ministers.

Zooming into the programme of the day, the minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Ms Thembisile Nkadimeng, will deliver her opening address in a short while and it is my honour to introduce her to you. Ms Nkadimeng is has served in managerial positions in both public administration and in the private sector. Ms. Nkadimeng holds a Higher Education Diploma, a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree as well as a BPhil (Political Studies) which she obtained from the University of Stellenbosch. In preparation for her numerous leadership roles she also completed the Advanced Program in Management at Wits Business School. She recently acquired a masters degree in….

Over to you Minister!