Speaking in the capital, Manila, Special Representative Margareta Wahlström noted that opportunities exist now to address underlying risks to ensure that the next disaster will not cause similar devastation, in line with President Benigno Aquino’s policy to ‘build back better.’Ahead of today’s start of the three-day conference, participants were scheduled to meet with some of the people and local officials who suffered the brunt of the super typhoon when it swept ashore on 8 November 2013. The typhoon killed thousands and affected nearly 9.8 million people, displaced some 4 million people and destroyed 500,000 homes, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).The storm also devastated the country’s infrastructure, hospitals, schools and public services, causing $12 billion in estimated damages.Among other field visits, the delegates were also expected to tour the Bislig Elementary School in Tanauan, as well as Barangay Pago, the site of a resettlement project for some 40 displaced families.These visits will supplement discussions on how to apply new technology and innovations into disaster risk reduction policies, as well as how to strengthen the state and other stakeholders in responding to disasters, and how communities can rebuild better. The conference will also explore ways to improve international coordination and specialization in response to disasters. It is expected to agree on an international disaster risk reduction and management framework called the “Tacloban Declaration.” That document will come as the decade-old Hyogo Framework of Action (HFA), adopted by the world community as the global paradigm on disaster risk reduction and management, is due to end in 2015.