Latvian State Secretary highlights the role of effective international cooperation in disaster risk and consequence mitigation

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia

On 15 March, in Japan, the Latvian Foreign Ministry’s Parliamentary State Secretary for European Affairs, Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica addressed the Third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction emphasising the necessity of preparedness for the possible challenges.

Although a natural disaster cannot be prevented, effective international cooperation can facilitate a more rapid and effective response to a disaster, thereby mitigating the consequences. Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica pointed out that the level of international cooperation can be increased by conducting regular training and meetings which enable countries to react more speedily and effectively to any catastrophe. Ms Kalniņa-Lukaševica also emphasised that expertise and experience can play a decisive role when dealing with and overcoming the consequences of a crisis.

The Third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction is taking place in the Japanese city of Sendai from 14 to 18 March. In 2011, Sendai was severely affected by an earthquake and the tsunami that followed in its wake, but has been able to successfully recover. The conference brings together 4,000 participants representing governments and the civil society, including 20 Heads of State, and 100 officials at the ministerial level. Also taking part in the event is UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon. The objective of the conference is to agree about a new framework for disaster risk reduction.

The previous ten-year plan was approved in Hyogo in 2005. Within the Hyogo Framework, the 168 member states of the United Nations voluntarily committed themselves to pursue five priorities of action for increasing the resilience of nations and communities to disasters. The action plan sets out a number of concrete actions, devoting particular attention to the ability to identify, assess and monitor disaster risk and enhance early warning. A decisive role in the implementation of the Hyogo Framework is played in the building of an effective international cooperation platform and improvement of practices applied in response to disasters.

The conference in Sendai, Japan, is connected with a number of high-level UN conferences which are held this year. The year 2015 sees the deadline for the UN Millennium Development Goals, and this year, the UN member states must agree on new sustainable development goals, which will be approved at the UN New York Summit in September. To agree about the financing and implementation of the new goals, preparations are also underway for the third International Conference on Financing for Development scheduled to take place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, this July. Both processes are also closely related to preparations for the UN Climate Change Conference to be held in Paris in December.

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