Joint statement on the occasion of the President of the United Nations General Assembly interactive thematic debate on disaster risk reduction
Speech, E&OE, (check against delivery)
Mr President, I am pleased to deliver the following joint-statement on behalf of the Co-Chairs of the Friends of Disaster Risk Reduction group — Australia, Indonesia, Norway and Peru, and the following countries — Denmark, Ecuador, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Philippines, New Zealand, Switzerland, and Timor Leste.
Mr President, dramatic disaster events over the past decade have claimed over a million lives, affected more than 2.5 billion people and caused economic loss totalling over $1 trillion.
We commend the UN Secretary-General’s commitment to disaster risk reduction in his Five Year Action Agenda for the global community.
Mr President, we also welcome your initiative to hold this debate, and the priority you have placed on disaster prevention and response for the 66th session of the General Assembly.
This debate comes at a time of unprecedented international momentum to reduce disaster risk. Governments, international agencies, non-governmental agencies and communities across the globe share the conviction that urgent and sustained actions are needed to reduce the social, economic and environmental impacts of disasters.
Disaster risk is a stark reality for most, if not all, countries, developing and developed.
Climate change is expected to increase the frequency and severity of weather-related hazards.
Rapid urbanisation and environmental degradation are exposing people and assets to higher disaster risk.
The risk of economic loss from a disaster is increasing at a faster rate than economic growth.
As the tragic events of 2010 and 2011 reminded us, disasters do not differentiate between regions or income-levels.
Together, we must resolve to address disaster risk in each of our countries but recognise that the need for action is, of course, most acute in the most vulnerable small island developing states, least developed countries and many countries in Africa.
The 2010 earthquake in Haiti set back development by many years. The nearly 10 billion USD initially pledged to support post-earthquake reconstruction was more than three times the total amount spent on Haiti’s development over the preceding decade.
The drought and famine in the Horn of Africa, and the emerging crisis in the Sahel, demonstrate the extent of human suffering involved when a complex interplay of factors leads to extreme vulnerabilities.
Mr President, following the devastating Indian Ocean Tsunami, 168 states adopted the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters.
Good progress has been made under the Hyogo Framework, and strong regional and international partnerships have contributed greatly to this success. However, much more remains to be done.
We must improve our efforts to systematically account for disaster risks and vulnerabilities. We must set out the wider economic and financial evidence to mobilise political attention and resources to build community resilience.
While we recognise the need to build the evidence base, and strengthen national capacity to do so, we also firmly believe in the imperative to act. We must invest in ‘no regrets’ activities.
We know what works: early warning systems, public awareness campaigns, strengthening and enforcing building codes, and protecting critical infrastructure.
Key sectors of development — such as health, education, water and sanitation, and food security — must ensure that their activities and infrastructure are disaster-resilient.
Sustainability demands resilience.
We must increase resilience through integrated efforts in critical areas such as livelihoods, livestock management, water management, and social protection.
We must factor disaster and climate risk management into development policies and planning, and those most at risk — local communities — must be key partners in building resilience. We must deliver humanitarian assistance in a way that supports recovery and ensures we rebuild safer and more resilient communities.
If we don’t, natural hazards will continue to be disasters and an obstacle to the achievement of sustainable development, including the Millennium Development Goals.
Much could also be gained through better communication, links and synergies among various development frameworks and agendas.
With this in mind, we call for the incorporation of disaster risk reduction in any future framework for sustainable development. We call for strong and strategic language on disaster risk reduction in the Outcome Document of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development — language that recognises disaster risk reduction as fundamental to achieving sustainable development and places it at the heart of the future development agenda.
We call for greater coordination between international agencies, civil societies, private sector, non-government organisations and research institutions with national governments.
We ask national governments, and their development partners, to increase investments in disaster risk reduction and to build the resilience of the most vulnerable communities. The knowledge and experience of both women and men in these communities must be taken into account.
At the second session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in 2009, the UN Secretary-General called for a target to halve the losses of lives from disasters by 2015, when the term of the Hyogo Framework for Action ends. For this to happen, we ask for all major cities in disaster-prone areas to include and enforce disaster risk reduction measures in their building and land use codes by 2015. We ask that by 2015, action plans for safer schools and hospitals be developed and implemented in all disaster prone countries.
We highlight the recognition that Disaster Risk Reduction has been given in processes such as the Fourth High-Level Forum on Development Effectiveness, the Fourth UN Conference on Least Developed Countries and the 16th Conference of the Parties.
Mr President, we hope that Rio+20 will send a strong message that ensures addressing risk and building resilience underpins the framework for achieving sustainable development.
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