Remarks by Ambassador Elizabeth Cousens, U.S. Representative to the UN Economic and Social Council, at a thematic debate on disaster risk reduction
Thank you Special Representative Wahlstrom, thank you to all of the panelists for their thoughtful remarks, and thank you to the President of the General Assembly for convening this meeting. The United States very much welcomes this debate.
First, let me say that our thoughts and condolences are with the people and Government of Indonesia after yesterday’s earthquakes. This is a powerful reminder of the imperative of preparedness and risk reduction. And the apparently relatively limited damage is a powerful testament to the choices Indonesia has made since the devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2004.
The United States is committed to working with our international partners to reduce disaster risk. We are always reminded of the importance of this issue when we join the international community in responding to devastating natural and manmade disasters, and assist in efforts to rebuild. We have all seen the staggering human and economic impacts of disasters. Disaster Risk Reduction is therefore critical to our broader commitments to sustainable development and must be a cornerstone of economic growth and climate adaptation strategies. The United States continues to endorse the goals and apply the principles of the Hyogo Framework for Action.
Madame Chair, the accelerating trend toward urbanization points to increased disaster risks and new vulnerabilities. Clearly we need to improve our planning and building practices in densely populated areas. Through robust disaster preparedness efforts for urban communities, we can minimize the need for humanitarian response. We commend ISDR for its "Making Cities Resilient" campaign, an effort that seeks to meet this objective.
Strategic partnerships are central to successful international disaster risk reduction efforts. The United States will continue to share experiences from our own efforts on disaster risk reduction with the United Nations, other Member States, regional organizations, the World Bank, NGOs, and other actors in the DRR community. This includes numerous disaster risk reduction initiatives in urban areas. For example, in the wake of the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010, we worked with members of the Haitian diaspora with expertise in urban planning, civil engineering and architecture to assist the Government of Haiti, local communities, and international partners in developing basic natural hazard maps. We also reaffirm our commitment to engage at the grass-roots level to promote greater resilience in communities across all regions of the world.
The United States is committed to the promotion of disaster risk reduction at home and abroad, and we look forward to continued close cooperation with the United Nations, its Member States, and other stakeholders in improving our ability to address all phases of the disaster management cycle, from prevention to preparedness to response and reconstruction.
Thank you again for your efforts.
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