By Rosa Abruzzese
Brussels, 22 September 2011:
The UN-EU Partnerships Report for 2010 highlights the increasingly important role of disaster risk reduction in the joint activities of the United Nations and the European Union. The report was released following the opening of the 66th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations on 13 September.
“It is imperative that we, the international community and partner countries, do our utmost to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and urgently tackle those areas where we still lag behind,” stated José Manuel Durão Barroso, the President of the European Commission, in the foreword of the report.
The MDGs, declared by 189 Head of States at the UN Millennium Summit in 2000, reflects a global commitment to the poor worldwide. Achieving the goals by 2015 will need to factor in risk and vulnerability of communities to disasters. For example, the UNISDR’s 2011 Global Assessment Report found that in Russia 41,300 more people died in August 2010 than in 2009 due to extreme heat and smoke pollution from a heat wave and wildfires.
This is the first time UNISDR has contributed to the UN-EU Partnership Report signifying the shift in perspective of the partnership from addressing crisis to strengthening resilience. “There can be no question that reducing vulnerability to risks is infinitely preferable to fighting the human suffering and economic consequences of crises,” says the report.
The UNISDR-led “Making Cities Resilient: My city is getting ready!” campaign was a clear example in the report of addressing underlying vulnerabilities and intensifying efforts in prevention and risk reduction by engaging mayors and local government officials.