UNISDR - The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction

The world today is affected by more natural and man-made disasters than ever before. The number of natural disasters has increased threefold in the last 30 years. Disaster and Risk Reduction (DRR) is a main strategic focus of the bill to Parliament for international cooperation 2013–16 and one of four priorities for SDC humanitarian aid for the same period. UNISDR is a priority partner in line with SDC’s objective of strengthening multilateral partnerships.

The International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1999 following the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (1990–1999). Its mandate is to serve as the focal point in the UN system for coordinating DRR with the ultimate objective of avoiding and limiting loss of lives and economic damages.



Under the coordination of UNISDR, over 130 countries are reporting on their implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015 (HFA), thereby creating a unique repository of knowledge on the state of DRR. Regional, international, and civil society organizations alike use the HFA as their guide for programmes and policies and to improve understanding of risk reduction and resilience as a development objective.


It advocates greater investment in DRR to protect people’s lives and assets. UNISDR is the major UN driver in putting DRR on political agendas and the lead agency for renewing HFA in 2015.

Information and campaign

UNISDR is committed to build global awareness on the importance of DRR and to empower people to reduce community vulnerabilities to hazard impacts. It informs stakeholders involved in DRR by providing services and practical tools.

Results: Enhancing DRR activities at local and national levels

UNISDR has been running campaigns aimed at enhancing DRR activities at local and national levels. Among them are: education and youth, risk mapping for local communities, sustainable mountain development, water (floods and drought), learning from disasters, investment for disaster prevention, safe schools and safe hospitals. In February 2013 ISDR launched a HFA2 survey for the “Safe Cities” programme in preparation for the Global Platform. The programme “My City is Getting Ready!” is part of a DRR campaign to make cities resilient. It was launched in May 2010 and runs until 2015. Some 1,000 cities, from small towns to major world capitals, have signed up to commit to ‘Ten Essentials’ for an urbanized version of the HFA.

Switzerland’s commitment

SDC supported UNISDR since its creation and invested considerable efforts in strengthening the ISDR system. UNISDR is a main partner of SDC humanitarian aid. Switzerland actively participates in the ISDR support group in Geneva that it will serve as chair for the period mid-2014 – mid-2015 and is a member of the UNISDR donor group. Switzerland is also a member of the consultative group of the Global Forum on Disaster Risk Reduction (GFDRR) of the World Bank (WB).

In its partnership with UNISDR, Switzerland seeks:

  • closer coordination among the main partner agencies of the system;
  • integration of a DRR perspective into development efforts;
  • strengthening of SDC multilateral collaboration at the field level including more secondments
  • promotion of an integrated approach toward DRR, which supports affected countries from emergency phase through early recovery to development. It also includes all relevant actors at the national, regional, and global level;
  • better thematic connectivity between climate change, natural disasters, and environmental emergencies;
  • a gender-inclusive approach to DRR.

Results: Focus on stakeholders’ responsibilities

Swiss strategic priorities focused on clear roles and responsibilities of stakeholders and closer collaboration among the main partners of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) system (notably UNISDR, Global Facility for DRR, UNDP/Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, IFRC, and OCHA). Switzerland also managed to promote an integrative approach to DRR, within its own institutional framework and beyond. It supports links between humanitarian response, sustainable development, environment, and climate change. Finally, Switzerland contributed to a strengthened, results-based, and more efficient UNISDR secretariat.


New millennium development and sustainable development goals have to call upon all states as well as the international community to engage in risk-sensitive development. Harmonization is necessary in terminology and approaches such as protection objectives. Guidance on how to incorporate efficient and effective DRR in development cooperation must be elaborated in dedicated processes such as post-HFA. The strengthening of cooperation among UN agencies continues to be an agenda point to be addressed.

International Cooperation: A profession

40 short films portray UN employees in Geneva. Beneath the films, the favored language of subtitles (de, fr, en, it) can be selected.

Additional Information


  • United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR)
    Promoting increased awareness of the importance of disaster reduction as an integral component of sustainable development
  • Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction