UNISDR Press release 2009/5
Bahrain - The Kingdom of Bahrain and Gulf States’ countries renewed their commitment towards reducing disaster risk at national and regional level and proposed a number of initiatives and partnerships that will better protect people against disasters in the Gulf region, during the launch of the United Nations first Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction yesterday (Sunday) in Bahrain.
Speakers and participants at this landmark event were unanimous that Gulf States are far from immune to catastrophe and more action is needed now to face weather related hazards that already represent more than 90 per cent of world disasters.
Drought and rising sea levels are among the major weather related disasters threatening the region: earthquake risk is also very high.
The Secretary-General of Gulf Cooperation Council, H.E Abdulrahman Hamad Al Attiya, announced that a new regional disaster management center will be established in Kuwait to enhance cooperation on disaster risk reduction and management among Gulf States.
UN Messenger of Peace, HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, a compelling advocate of the imperative to reduce human suffering caused by disasters, called for the introduction of urgent and practical measures to review hospital and school safety worldwide leading to a structural assessment of all schools and hospitals. This is a practice already adopted in Dubai, with surveys of the first 50% of the buildings to be completed during next year and the remainder by the end of 2011.
Her Highness also recommended to move the disaster risk reduction agenda forward and proposed that at least ten percent (10%) of humanitarian aid and one percent (1%) of development investments should be allocated to disaster risk reduction measures.
The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon thanked the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Bahrain for hosting the launch of the Report. He applauded the region’s pioneering role in placing disaster risk reduction efforts in the context of adapting to climate change. Based on the conclusions of the Report, he urged more governments to invest in disaster risk reduction and place climate change adaptation and poverty reduction even further up national agendas.
Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General for the World Meteorological Organisation called for collective action at international, regional and national level to ensure that vital climate information is available to decision makers and operationally appropriate. He noted that the upcoming Third World Climate Conference in Geneva in August, offers another opportunity to raise the issue.
Ibrahim Osman, Deputy Secretary General for the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent stressed the importance and the role of community based organisations in preparing and persuading people to adopt priorities and practices which reduce disaster impacts.
UN Assistant Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction Margareta Wahlstrom said: “Unveiling the Global Assessment Report in Bahrain has added an important dimension to the risk reduction imperative across the whole Arab region. The various initiatives and activities proposed are substantive, also with global application. In the lead up to the Copenhagen Climate Change conference (December 2009), the launch of this landmark Report has proved a pivotal event in focusing world attention on the causes and consequences of disaster.”
The Report recommends 20 actions to reduce risks that will be considered in detail at the forthcoming Second Session of the Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction, to be held in Geneva, 16-19 June 2009.
Notes for Editors
1. The full Report and related documentation is available via: www.preventionweb.net/gar09.
2. The Report is a collective effort of the ISDR partnership, including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), World Meteorological Organization (WMO), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the ProVention Consortium, regional inter-governmental and technical institutions, national governments, civil society networks, academic/scientific institutions and many other specific contributors.
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