NEW YORK, 29 September
- As the international community gears up for the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development to be held in June next year, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is calling for any future framework for sustainable development to include a “clear prescription for incorporation of disaster and climate risk management.”
The UN General Assembly which started its 66th session on 13 September and runs until December before its suspends, will take action on over 150 critical items including a report of the Secretary-General on the Implementation of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (A/66/301).
The issue of disaster reduction featured prominently during the General Debate of the 66th Session of the UN General Assembly which concluded on Tuesday. In his closing remarks at that debate, Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser said that in addition to other key issues, the spotlight during the General Debate had also focused on the humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa, where the worst drought in more than 60 years had left much of Somalia in a declared state of famine.
“This concern brought up the need to urgently improve disaster prevention and response — a reform that the Assembly will tackle this session through an important draft resolution,” said Al-Nasser. “As President of the General Assembly I will be fully committed to focusing the General Assembly’s attention on this humanitarian crisis.” He stated that now was the time to shift attention to the next crucial step “turning talk into real impact”.
In his report on which the Assembly is expected to take action, the Secretary-General recommends that national disaster loss registers, disaster risk mapping and financial tracking systems be established and further developed to effectively support future development planning and investment choices.
This recommendation follows on the heels of the UNISDR’s 2011 Global Assessment Report (GAR) on Disaster Risk Reduction entitled Revealing Risk, Redefining Development which was launched in May, and highlights the need for systematic accounting of disaster losses and impacts as well as comprehensive assessment of disaster risks.
Stressing that effective risk reduction can only take place when local governments and their communities are effectively part of the process, the Secretary-General underscores both the need for the appropriate authority as well as human and financial capacity to participate in defining national risk management policies.
“I encourage a commitment from donors and developing countries to focus more clearly on supporting local and community resilience in their programming, using creative solutions and innovations and through stronger collaborations as part of their aid-effectiveness commitments”, states the Secretary-General.
He further urges Member States and organizations to “scale up their financial, human and technology investments for disaster risk reduction, including the development of private and public sector partnerships”.
Margareta Wahlström, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, believes that with Rio+20 around the corner and expiration of the Hyogo Framework for Action looming in 2015, now is the time to include disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation in the sustainable development discourse.
“We have been asking for this for the longest time and it still has to happen concretely. Why? We see what disasters are doing to development progress. They destroy precious gains, particularly those in the area of poverty reduction. I think the writing on the wall is clear – in this day and age, if we don’t seriously factor in disaster risk management and climate change adaptation then it is really futile to think about advancing sustainable development in any real terms”, states Wahlström.