Malabo (Guinea), 30 June 2011 – As the 17th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union wrapped up in Malabo, Guinea, talks of a common voice on sustainable development have continued to dominate agendas in Africa ahead of the United Nations climate talks to be held in Durban in December. The need to address the issue of disasters and climate change continues to at the fore of various platforms of implementing the extended Africa Regional Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction.
Various circles have urged African leaders to make strong commitments for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation to address the severe drought and resulting food shortages.
Leading up to the African Union Assembly, the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary General for Disaster Risk Reduction, Ms. Margareta Wahlström, stressed that effective disaster risk management implies political authority, realistic decentralization and a culture of partnership during the launch of the Global Assessment Report on Disaster Reduction (GAR 11) held on 20 June in Nairobi.
“Investment in risk management is long term, but in the end it is crucial for a country that hopes to achieve its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” she stated. Ms. Wahlström also advocated for regional cooperation and practical collaboration to effectively address the challenges of disasters risks.
The launch was preceded by an inter-agency consultative meeting with key United Nations partners and relevant government institutions convened by the UNISDR Regional Office for Africa. The inter-agency group was formed to respond to the increasing demand within the United Nations family to have a dialogue and consult internally on disaster risk reduction initiatives and programmes to ensure the “One UN Approach”. The progress of other working groups in supporting partnership and coordination in risk reduction was acknowledged along with the added-value of the inter-agency group.
Prior to the GAR11 launch, Ms. Wahlström attended the Annual General Meeting of the New Partnership for African Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (NEPARC). She asked the national societies which are the lead agencies in risk reduction to increase transparency in their activities to attract more donor funding.
The NEPARC brought together some 150 delegates from national and local bodies, and private sector as well as donor agencies to map out ways to increase the capacity of relief organizations to expand their revenue base in order to cover the growing needs caused by climate change.