United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), Core Contribution 2017-2020

Project completed

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Climate change and environment
Disaster risk reduction DRR
01.01.2017 - 31.12.2020
CHF  6’200’000
Area of responsibility
  • UNISDR serves as focal point within the UN system for the coordination of disaster risk reduction (DRR) activities and ensures synergies in this regard with other agencies of the UN system, regional organisations, international financial  institutions and civil society organizations, etc.
  • With the adoption of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 (SFDRR) by 187 member states in March 2015, UNISDR is mandated to oversee the implementation of the SFDRR, undertake efforts to ensure that the „UN Plan of Action on DRR for Resilience“ translates into effective support to countries and communities, and to bring disaster risk management and disaster resilience to new levels of international engagement, commitment and action.
  • UNISDR regularly organizes the “Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction”, which is recognized by the UN General Assembly. It is the main forum at the global level for strategic advice, coordination, partnership development and the review of progress in the implementation of the SFDRR. The 2017 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction will be held in Cancun, Mexico from 22-26 May.
Switzerland's and the organisation's strategic priorities and their coherence
  • DRR is a strategic priority of the Swiss Government and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). Switzerland’s political commitment in this particular field is reflected in the Federal Law of 1976 on International Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid. DRR also features prominently in the 2017-2020 Dispatch on International Cooperation and is one of four core themes of SDC’s Humnaitarian Aid Department.
  • At DRR policy level, Switzerland supported the 1994 Yokohama Strategy and Plan of Action for a Safer World, became a driving force behind the 2005 Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA), and contributed significantly with expertise and funding to the successful establishment of the SFDRR in March 2015. Switzerland will be hosting the 2019 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Geneva.
  • Switzerland considers UNISDR a key partner to bring the international DRR agenda forward.
Results of the organisation's previous engagement
  • Persistent lobbying and campaigning by UNISDR has been instrumental for achieving an unprecedented level of momentum for a now truly global risk management agenda.
  • 3’557 cities – from small towns to major world capitals – have joined the „Making Cities Resilient Campaign“ initiated by UNISDR and signed up to commit to  “Ten Essentials” of urban disaster resilience.
  • UNISDR successfully coordinated and supervised the Global Assessment Report (GAR), a biennial assessment of DRR and a comprehensive review and analysis of the natural hazards that affect humanity.
  • Over the past two years (2015-2016), UNISDR has put major focus on inter-governmental consultations for effective implementation of the SFDRR adopted in March 2015.
  • In February 2017, the UN General Assembly endorsed the Sendai/DRR monitoring indicators developed by an “Open-ended Intergovernmental Expert Working Group” (OIEWG). The prosess was successfully coordinated by UNISDR.
  • Together with Mexico as host, and in consultation with SFDRR member states, UNISDR has organized the 5th Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction to take place in Cancún from 22-26 May 2017.
Results of Switzerland's engagement in previous phase
  • Active support for UNISDR in fulfilling its coordination role in the post-Sendai era and help promoting political leadership in terms of commitment to the newly adopted Sendai Framework.
  • Strategic commitment to ensure inter-connected­ness and coherence of the Sendai Framework with other post-2015 policy processes with a particular view on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) and the Climate Change Agenda (UNFCCC / Paris Declaration).
  • Financial and technical support (two Swiss experts) for the work of the OIEWG and the successful establishment of a set of feasible  SFDRR monitoring indicators.
  • Effective Swiss lobbying for an integrated approach of DRR supporting linkages between humanitarian response, sustainable development, environment and climate change, not least in its role as Co-Chair of the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), of which UNISDR is a member.
  • Support to UNISDR for establishing a more efficient and effective Secretariat in Geneva and Field Offices.
Medium-term outcome of organisation's current engagement
  • In mid-2016, the new DRR Special Representative to the Secretary-General, Robert Glasser, launched within UNISDR an urgently needed change process. Key drivers influencing the new organizational structure are increased clarity on accountabilities, the drive to strengthen the human resource capacity of the UNISDR regional offices, consolidation of small sub-regional offices into the regional offices, and the shift in the organizational culture to fully embrace UNISDR’s convening and catalytic role in bringing together member states and partners within and outside the UN system for disaster risk reduction.
  • The key elements of the change process are to be concluded by the end of 2017, including the roll out of the new organizational structure.
  • The UNISDR change process is composed of the following eight elements:
  1. Organizational set up and structure,
  2. Financing, including both increased cost efficiency and savings as well as a renewed resource mobilization strategy, which focusses on predictable multi-year unearmarked funding and broadening of the donor base to enable UNISDR to focus on its core role and to reduce reliance on project funding,
  3. Review and optimization of business processes,
  4. Internal communication,
  5. Management culture, including enhanced performance management,
  6. Staff development,
  7. External communication,
  8. Partnership strategy.
Effect in Switzerland
  • A strong UNISDR with a clear-cut mandate, profile and strategic focus.
  • UNISDR should serve as the UN DRR centre of excellence:
  1. offering norms, standards and guidance to the UN system and beyond and,
  2. providing evidence-based and robust reporting and review on the progress of the Sendai Framework,
  3. being a key driver for the establishment and and subsequent implementation (by UN agencies) of the “UN Action Plan on Disaster Risk Reduction for Resilience”.
  • While main focus is on the implementation of the Sendai Framework, Switzerland will provide support to UNISDR for reviewing and further improving its governance structure (as part of the ongoing change process) and to enhance cooperation between UNISDR and its various partners in the UN system and the Development Banks.
  • UNISDR may benefit in the future from a revised governance structure including a consultative group with decision-making authority, in addition to broader existing fora such as the ISDR support group and the various advisory groups.
  • Coherence and effective DRR governance across the UN system is key: UNISDR’s positioning and connectedness within the UN system, not least vis-a-vis UNOCHA and UNDP, requires improvement. Switzerland is suppportive of measures that lead to stronger coordination, collective responsibility for implementing Sendai and increased mainstreaming of DRR in UN programmes and  projects at all levels.
  • To avoid duplications and foster a more cohesive approach among UN agencies, Switzerland seeks greater clarity regarding UNISDR’s membership and role in inter-agency groupings such as the Capacity for Disaster Reduction Initiative (CADRI).
Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Humanitarian aid
Project partners Contract partner
United Nations Organization (UNO)
  • United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction

Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    6’200’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    6’200’000
Switzerland's ranking in the DonorOrder

Number 7 (as of December 2016)


In 2016, UNISDR received earmarked and unearmarked contributions from 18 governments, 3 institutions (incl. European Commission, FAO and Human Security Trust Fund), and 5 private sector actors.

Coordination with other projects and actors

Synergies with like-minded donors such as the „Nordics“, the WB-GFDRR and the EU member states will be further explored.

Project phases

Phase 18 01.01.2017 - 31.12.2020   (Completed)

Phase 17 01.01.2015 - 31.12.2016   (Completed)