The anniversaries of disaster events are like links in a chain of memories that remind us of how precious life is and of our exposure to man-made and natural hazards.

The fifth anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami is an occasion to remember those who lost their lives in that tragic sequence of events and to raise awareness of the dangers of synchronized failure in our technology-dependent world. It was not a coincidence that the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction decided to formally launch the consultations on a new global agreement for reducing disaster losses on the first anniversary of this disaster and that U.N. member-states should meet in the equivalent of the tsunami's ground zero — Sendai — three years later, to adopt the outcome.

The events of March 11, 2011, have profoundly shaped the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, forcing the world to look beyond the self-evident threat of natural hazards that is the usual purview of disaster risk management.