By David Singh
GENEVA, 21 November 2011
- UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, has highlighted disaster risk reduction as a major area where the UN and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) can work together to assist vulnerable people.
Following the 4th ASEAN-UN Summit which ended on Saturday, the Secretary-General welcomed the Joint Declaration on Comprehensive Partnership between the UN and ASEAN. “Today’s Joint Declaration builds on a strong foundation and introduces new avenues of cooperation, including mechanisms for more regularized communication and common action”, he stated.
“The economies of ASEAN nations continue to grow. Millions of people have been lifted out of poverty; many more will be. Yet there is a paradox. While Asia gains in power and influence, it has yet to fully take up its responsibilities for the larger world we share.
“This is the message I delivered at today’s summit. Now is the moment for ASEAN to step into a truly global role – the world needs your help, your leadership – the world needs Asia to fully engage on the great challenges of the day.
“The UN is ready to work closely with a newly global ASEAN on sustainable development and climate change; on disaster risk prevention and preparedness; on food and energy security; on human rights; on women’s empowerment; and the whole range of regional as well as UN issues”, said the Secretary-General.
Citing Indonesia as an example of a country that is working to reduce its vulnerability and as a leader in disaster risk reduction, the Secretary-General said: “No country has suffered more over the past decade. This is why this morning, I recognized Indonesia’s President, His Excellency Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono […] as the first Global Champion for DRR. I thank him for his leadership.”
The Secretary-General said that since the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami and the establishment of the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters ¬- the blueprint for the international community to prepare itself for disasters - Indonesia had established disaster risk agencies in all its provinces.
“This is possible only by very strong leadership and commitment. This is why we appreciate President Yudhoyono and why we decided to recognize him as the first Global DRR Champion. I hope that this example can be emulated by many countries […] There are many countries which are disaster-prone – we have to make this happen on the ground”, said the Secretary-General
The Secretary-General said disasters were a global issue and more extreme weather patterns could be expected due to climate change. “We may not be able to predict earthquakes or tsunamis, but depending upon the level of preparedness on the ground and policies, we can make a huge difference in saving lives and protecting our priorities.”
Drawing from his trips earlier in the week to highlight the benefits of prevention and preparedness, the Secretary-General highlighted Bangladesh where Typhoon Sidr claimed 4,000 lives in 2007 compared to 140,000 lost during the 1991 Bangladesh Cyclone. “The difference is preparedness and prevention - good policy and good investment”, he added.
Highlighting the global campaign for DRR launched by the UN, the Secretary-General pointed to established institutional mechanisms such as the Geneva-based United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) to illustrate the commitment by the UN.