National statement by Belgium on the Sendai Midterm Review

Dear Mr. President of the General Assembly,  

Dear Ms. Deputy Secretary-General,  

Distinguished colleagues, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, 

Belgium is honored to participate in this High-Level meeting of the General Assembly on the Midterm Review of the Sendai Framework. Let me start by stating that Belgium aligns itself with the statement of the European Union as expressed by Commissioner Lenar Lenarčič. Please allow me to add a few considerations from a Belgian perspective. 

The past few years have highlighted the increasing intersectoral and transnational nature of crises. During these major emergencies, we witnessed – more than ever – the need for international collaboration and common responses. Also in the field of disaster risk reduction, Belgium firmly believes in the multilateral principles embodied in the United Nations. Of course, the COVID-pandemic immediately comes to mind. But I’m also referring to the terrible floods that hit Belgium and its neighboring countries in the Summer of 2021. Most countries present here today, have faced similar or even worse catastrophes over the last few years.  

In this challenging context, we are absolutely convinced of the added value of the Sendai Framework and we are therefore grateful for the opportunity to contribute to its mid-term review, aiming at assessing the progress achieved by the various parties as well as making recommendations to reach the common objectives.  

Belgium would like to reaffirm its commitment to the guiding principles and the priorities for action formulated in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. In this perspective, our country is intensifying its collaboration with different partners around the world in order to develop a wider vision of risks and deepen its expertise in the field of crisis management. 

Belgium also strongly supports the establishment of international frameworks enhancing preparedness, response capability and resilience to future crises. We attach great importance to the complementarity of these international frameworks from the United Nations, NATO, the European Union and others.  

In Belgium, we are currently establishing a single national strategy covering all the requirements and objectives of these different international frameworks. Besides the classic requirements, three additional areas of focus have been added, namely financial resilience, protection of economic and scientific potential, and psychological resilience. Moreover, the Belgian authorities have also adapted their strategic vision of crisis management to make the concept of resilience an integral part of their policy guidelines. 

During the many crises and disasters we have faced in recent years, a clear chain of command was essential for managing these crises efficiently. During these difficult times, Belgium could fortunately rely on well-defined crisis management structures where each stakeholder was well aware of their role and responsibilities. Nevertheless, after the terrible floods we faced in the Summer of 2021, a Commission of experts in crisis management was set up to draw the lessons from this experience and to make recommendations to the government. The Commission recommended to further develop the culture of risk, and to integrate the citizens in the risk cycle. It also looked at best practices to ‘build-back-better’ after a crisis. 

In this challenging context, the necessity of adapting the legal framework became evident, in order to enable a more effective risk management. Currently, new legislation bringing together all emergency plans, both at the national and local levels, is being drafted. 

Belgium did not and will not underestimate the growing impact of climate change risks either. We have recently set up a Center for Complex Risk Assessment to develop complex and multi-disciplinary risk assessments in the context of climate change. As we are still developing the parameters of such assessments, we are keen to engage and learn from other countries that are working with such risk assessments.  

Despite all these improvements, I am very concerned by the increasing frequency and intensity of crises. If we want to accelerate progress towards reducing risk and building resilience in a cross-sectoral context - and thus achieve our common goals - we will need more investment. That’s why, Belgium supports the strengthening of the resilience of vulnerable communities, around the world, and especially in Africa and in the least developed countries.  

I would like to highlight our strong support to the Least Developed Countries Fund, which intends to support LDC’s in their climate change adaptation efforts. Belgium pledged 75 million EUR in 2021-2024. We have heard the call of the UN Secretary General to roll out a global early warning system and we are prepared to do our part in this multilateral effort.  

Dear Mr. President of the General Assembly,  

Dear Ms. Deputy Secretary-General,  

Dear colleagues, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, 

Belgium welcomes this Midterm Review and is looking forward to the policy recommendations and practical solutions that will emerge from our exchanges.  

There is no time to waste, because if not now, then when? We must act thoughtfully and together, to safeguard and guarantee fair development and wellbeing for our global citizens.  

Thank you very much for your attention.