From left to right: Jean-Pascal van Ypersele (IPCC Vice Chair and Professor of Climate and Environmental Sciences at UCL Belgium), John Coomber (Board member of Swiss Re and Chairman of ClimateWise) Chris Field, Co-chair of IPCC Working Group II, Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the IPCC, Margareta Wahlström, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, and Jamie Shea, NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges. © Belspo / Nevens.
Brussels, 11 May 2011 - The UN Special Representative of the Secretary General for disaster risk reduction, Margareta Wahlström, has urged governments to commit resources to building national disaster loss data bases so they can better target spending on infrastructure to avoid recurring losses and damages.
The Head of UNISDR was one of the keynote speakers yesterday at the European launch of the IPPC's Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX) which was first proposed by UNISDR and the Government of Norway in 2008.
She said that “governments are calculating unemployment rates, population increase and other elements important to sustained development but need to make an equal effort to count their losses due to disasters if they are to understand risk and make key infrastructure disaster-proof.”
Ms. Wahlström said the whole of society is affected when disasters strike key facets of national life including schools, hospitals, housing and cultural artifacts. There is a fundamental need to understand our growing vulnerability and take risk reduction in a time when we can expect more extreme events.
She said that disaster risk reduction was being well served through the close partnership that exists between the European Commission and UNISDR.
IPCC Chairman, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri pointed out how rapid urbanization and growth of megacities, especially in developing countries have led to the emergence of highly vulnerable urban communities. Vulnerable populations also include refugees, internally displaced people, and those living in marginal areas.
He said that although risk is often viewed as a humanitarian issue it is mostly a sustainable development and economical one. Dr. Pachauri called for the support of the EU towards the promotion of climate change research in developing and least developed countries.
Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Change, said the IPCC report “has undermined bad excuses for not taking timely action.” The report clearly explains the link between climate adaptation and risk reduction measures as a component of sustainable development. Ms Hedegaard indicated the necessity of reflecting this important dimension in the upcoming Rio +20 discussions and outcomes. Ms. Hedegaard added that the EU is working towards two Adaptation Strategies, respectively addressing EU Member States and Developing Countries.
Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, said that in her day-to-day work, “I stare in the face of the consequences of the events described by the report.”
The costs for natural disasters across Europe are constantly increasing mounting up to 150 billion EUR and in the course of the last 10 years approximately 100,000 persons have died as a direct result. In Europe we spend roughly Euros 1.1 billion on Humanitarian Assistance and only 8-10% of it is devoted to disaster preparedness and reduction, yet we know that investing in resilience means saving in response. Commissioner Georgieva asked: "When we know it, why don't we act it?”
The Head of UNISDR, Ms. Margareta Wahlstrom, participated on 10 May 2012, as a key note speaker during this event, held in Brussels, Belgium Speakers included Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Change; Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response; Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, the Chair of the IPCC; Paul Magnette, Belgian Federal Minister of Public Enterprises, Science Policy and Development Cooperation. The European Commission, the United Nations, NGO's, Civil Society, Academia and Permanent Representations in Brussels were all well represented.