/ 8 September 2023

Brics bloc signs Durban Declaration on disaster management

East African Crude Oil Pipeline (eacop) Protest At Brics Summit
Ministers from the five countries met in the city to sign an agreement to work together to protect the lives and livelihoods of almost half the world’s population. (Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Disaster management ministers from Brics have signed the Durban Declaration in which member countries have committed to collaborate in ameliorating the risks of natural disasters and pandemics and strengthening emergency and recovery responses.

This is after ministers and officials from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa

met in the city to discuss a joint action plan to tackle climate change disasters and challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic.

South Africa’s Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Thembi Nkadimeng said the resolutions were a “testament to our shared responsibility as nations bound by a common purpose”. She said all five Brics countries had already witnessed the tangible impact of co-operation when facing the unpredictable forces of nature.

“Brazil, known for its rich biodiversity and environmental heritage, has been a beacon of insight in addressing ecological disasters. The nation’s experience in managing the Amazon rainforest fires and its commitment to sustainable development resonate deeply with our collective mission. The strides made by Brazil in conserving its natural resources have set an example for us all,” Nkadimeng said.

She said Russia had shared knowledge in handling emergencies — from wildfires to industrial accidents — that had enriched the country’s collective understanding of disaster management, while India, with its blend of traditional wisdom and modern innovation, had offered “a new paradigm in disaster preparedness and response”.

Nkadimeng said China had transformed its disaster management landscape, especially its response to earthquakes, and was “an instrumental force” in sharing best practices and fostering co-operation.

Under the declaration, Brics ministers noted the continuing impact of the “intensifying trend of climate change, the frequent occurrence of disasters caused by natural hazards and the serious effects of Covid-19 pandemic” recognising the need to strengthen communication, solidarity and co-ordination to improve disaster prevention and management capabilities.

They committed to 12 points, including improving national disaster prevention, mitigation, preparedness and relief systems and capacities to reduce disaster-related losses, as well as protect infrastructure, human lives and livelihoods. 

The ministers also committed to strengthening exchange and co-operation in risk monitoring; early-warning systems and assessment and building the capacity of emergency rescue forces and post-disaster recovery and reconstruction. They agreed to develop joint research and promote technological innovations. 

The bloc will work together to play a more proactive role in global disaster governance, and to support the central role of the UN in international collaboration on disaster risk reduction. 

India’s National Disaster Management Authority member Shri Mishra noted that

3 billion people, almost half the global population, lived in Brics countries, “and if we together succeed in disaster risk reduction it would mean half the world would be safe from disasters”.

“If we reduce the adverse impact of natural disasters it will benefit not only the Brics nations but almost the entire world,” he added.

Russian minister for emergencies and natural disasters Aleksandr Kurenkov said the world faced serious risk of natural and manmade disasters on an increasing scale of intensity, making it important for the bloc to exchange information and share best practices on early-warning systems and monitoring.

China’s emergency management minister Wang Xiangxi said the country was committed to working with others to confront the challenges of natural disasters brought about by climate change.