Diversity in Disaster Risk Reduction Leadership

The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 outlines the inclusive, all-of-society approach that is needed to reduce disaster risks. It explicitly recognises the need to promote women and youth leadership and to empower women and persons with disabilities to publicly lead and promote gender equitable and universally accessible disaster prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, recovery, and risk informed and resilient development. However, truly inclusive diverse leadership must extend beyond the three groups explicitly mentioned. Addressing the structural barriers, capacity gaps, discriminatory attitudes and stereotypes that continue to restrict participation in decision-making, including in DRR, must be a priority to effectively manage disaster risk and build resilience.  

Session objectives 

This session will: 

  • Showcase the transformative impact that diversity in DRR leadership can have on risk informed development and resilience that leaves no one behind. 
  • Stocktake progress and recognise the skills, knowledge and achievements of diverse leaders that are building resilience in their communities. 


  • Amal Ridene - Young Climate Change Negotiator,  
  • Abel Walekhwa - Deputy Secretary General, Africa Youth Advisory Board on Disaster Risk Reduction, African Union Commission


  • Sarah Knibbs - Officer-in-Charge, UN Women Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, UN-Women
  • Lizra Fabien - Executive Director, ARISE Dominica | Dominica Association of Industry and Commerce
  • David Zambrano Maya - President, Community Risk Management Committee of Olón
  • Noelene Nabulivou - Executive Director, Diverse Voices and Action (DIVA) for equality
  • Elham Youssefian - Inclusive Humanitarian Action and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Advisor, International Disability Alliance
  • Manuel Bessler - Deputy Director-General and Head of Humanitarian Aid Department, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Switzerland

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Learn more

Read this section to learn more about the topic of diversity in DRR leadership, ensuring you come prepared to the session. 

Where do we stand? 

Increasingly, there is recognition that diverse leadership is fundamental for challenging and addressing norms and discriminations that drive unequal disaster risk; and for ensuring more effective and resilient outcomes that leave no one behind. Yet significant barriers remain for women, persons with disabilities, youth, elderly, and other groups most at risk to take a transformative leadership role and meaningfully participate in disaster risk reduction recovery and resilience building. These barriers include: 

  • Lack of targeted funding 
  • Inadequate capacity development and challenges in accessing knowledge and skills for leadership 
  • Insufficient coordination between representative organisations and DRR/climate change adaptation/resilience actors 
  • Collective influencing and advocacy power of national and local groups to ensure DRR/resilience processes are influenced by their priorities, needs and capacities. 

At the same time, there are opportunities, which could accelerate diverse leadership in DRR and resilience building and fast-track gender-responsive and inclusive implementation of the Sendai Framework. These opportunities include 

  • Building awareness of the rationale for diverse leadership in DRR and how diversity in decision-making can reduce disaster risk for all 
  • Identifying the enablers of change to overcome key barriers to diverse leadership 
  • Disseminating and applying existing tools to measure and accelerate progress 
  • Securing commitments to move beyond box ticking to systemic inclusion of diversity 
  • Identifying priority actions for different stakeholder groups. 

Session guiding questions 

  • How can diverse leadership drive progress in achieving the implementation of the Sendai Framework? 
  • What are the primary enablers to diverse and transformative leadership in DRR and resilience building?  

For more information: 

Women's Leadership
Women’s resilience to disasters
1 Million Youth Actions Challenge
The 1 Million Youth Actions Challenge- Video 

Leadership voice


25 May 2022
13:00 - 14:30 (Bali UTC+8)


Nusa Dua Hall
BNDCC 1-Ground Floor

Online access

Remote participation available to those registered for the conference
Live stream available to all


Open to those registered for the conference




International sign


Stefanie Dannenmann-Di Palma dannenmann@un.org. Branwen Millar Branwen.millar@un.org.

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