Governments need to create options for people, says UN’s top disaster official

 

In an interview with BBC World News, Margareta Wahlstrom, UN Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, stressed the importance of urban planning and creating safe living environments following the flooding and landslides that have hit Australia and Brazil.

In the case of Brazil’s deadly landslides, which has killed over 500 people so far, illegal settlements and the fragile homes the poor build on steep, slide-prone hills are only one side of the issue.

"People want to live in cities where there are jobs, modern life and education,” she said. Without job options or access to public transportation to get to and from work, illegal settlements and homes will continue to be built on high risk areas making it difficult to uphold good local legislation.

As extreme weather events increase in frequency and severity, and urbanization continues to grow, countries should invest in infrastructure improvements. Building resilient societies and long-term sustainability is a development investment.

Over 150 cities worldwide have already joined the “Making Cities Resilient” campaign, as UNISDR continues to work with local governments and organizations to build disaster resilient communities. Governments and disaster practitioners will have the opportunity to share their experiences at the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction -- the world’s foremost gathering on reducing disaster risk and building the resilience of communities and nations to be hosted by UNISDR in Geneva, from 8-13 May 2011.

Regional Platforms for Disaster Risk Reduction take place from Africa to the Pacific Regional Platforms for Disaster Risk Reduction take place from Africa to the Pacific.
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