British professor recommends SDGs become integral to building resilience

Professor Mark Pelling

by Linda Straker

  • More use should be made of the Sustainable Development Goals
  • Focus should be placed on everyday risk and not only preparing for a major or extreme catastrophe

Professor Mark Pelling of King’s College London believes that small island states such as those in the Caribbean need to use the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a guide to help them prepare to mitigate and adapt the impact of climate change and build resilience.

Speaking ahead of delivering the Caribbean Development Bank’s William G Demas Memorial lecture which will be held on Tuesday evening at the St George’s University, Pelling said that his key message in the lecture would be that more use should be made of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The lecture is part of the agenda of the annual meeting of the Board of Governors of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) which started on Monday with restricted meetings and will conclude on Friday with a news conference.

“The key message is that if one starts thinking about resilience and disasters through the lenses of the sustainable development goals, as increasingly as one does these days, resilience is littered throughout those goals,” he said in a news briefing.

“So, the flagship goal or number one is to eradicate poverty, target 1.5 is build resilience, the indicator propose for that is to reduce the number of persons affected by disasters; goal 11 on cities, goal 13 on climate change also propose to have resilience which trickle down in terms of the actual target to either reducing the number of persons affected by disasters or building disaster management plans of one kind or another,” he said.

The SDGs are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. These 17 Goals build on the successes of the Millennium Development Goals while including new areas such as climate change, economic inequality, innovation, sustainable consumption, peace and justice, among other priorities. The goals are interconnected – often the key to success on one will involve tackling issues more commonly associated with another.

Pelling who will be speaking on the topic “From Social Resilience to Survival-led Reconstruction” said that the SDGs provide a ready framework for international organisations, countries and communities to build on as a means of surviving disasters and hazards.

He is also recommending that focus be placed on everyday risk and not only preparing for a major or extreme catastrophe. Pelling said that people are affected more by everyday risks than by a major catastrophe.

“If one moves from the catastrophic to the every day, then the developmental causes of risk will really come to the fore, and it becomes very clear that one is less interested in extreme weather events and more interested everyday risks, such as access to basic infrastructure,” he said.

“People who are affected by one extreme disaster are also exposed to everyday events like low-level rainfall, tidal events, low-level wind storms, poor roads, development capacity or individual impact at the household level,” he said.

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