Geneva, 11 July 2011 - The United Nations secretariat of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) joins the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in observing World Population Day 2011 – The World at 7 Billion. We welcome the campaign 7 Billion Actions which will spur commitment and spark actions vis-à-vis the opportunities and challenges presented by a world of seven billion people.
The opportunities presented by a planet with seven billion people are immense, but confronted, however, by disaster risks and the spiraling cost of increasing catastrophes which are affecting at least 230 million people each year. Around 20 percent of our planet is at risk from at least one natural hazard and more than half the world’s seven billion population is exposed. In the briefest of moments one disaster can take hundreds of thousands of lives, destroy entire communities as well as hard-earned development gains. The 2011 Global Risk Assessment Report "Revealing Risk, Redefining Development" provides the evidence on this trend. Today disaster risk reduction must underpin any actions to improve the human condition. We would therefore hope that it is a key consideration in the 7 Billion Actions campaign.
Achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will have a positive impact on vulnerability. Yet 85 percent of people around the world who are exposed to earthquakes, cyclones, floods and drought, live in developing countries, where the MDGs are critical to improving resilience and lives.
Today we have improved health and education, are combating HIV and AIDS as well as other diseases, advancing gender equality and the empowerment of women, reducing child mortality and improving maternal health, while people are living longer and healthier lives. Yet such precious gains become tenuous in hazard prone communities with high vulnerability and where investments in disaster risk reduction remain a vision to be achieved. Reducing inequities and improving living standards for people, particularly the most vulnerable, women, children, the aged and those living below the poverty line, will require innovation, access to information and knowledge, lateral thinking and unparalleled global and regional cooperation. We do urge that risk reduction and disaster prevention are included in the unfolding MDGs that are addressing the need for an equitable and sustained development for the world.
Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction