Norway gets ready for more extreme weather events

Deputy Minister Paal Martin Sand told the European Forum for Disaster Risk Reduction in Oslo today that "international cooperation is of the essence".
 
By Andy McElroy

OSLO, 23 September 2013 - Norway today declared it is taking stronger measures on land use and building regulations as recommended in the global agreement, the Hyogo Framework for Action, to combat the frequency of extreme weather events.

The Norwegian Deputy Minister of Justice and Public Security, Mr Paal Martin Sand, also told the opening of the European Forum for Disaster Risk Reduction in Oslo that "international cooperation is an essential part of efforts" to reduce the country's vulnerability and exposure to hazards.

"In Kvam (near Lillehammer, north of Oslo) we have had a once-in-every-50-years-flood twice in the last two years; houses were rebuilt after the first floods and then were destroyed again the next year," Minister Sand said. "We could say that we were unlucky but in reality we must realise that we will continue to face such extreme weather because of climate change.

"We need to be better prepared for such events and smart in the way we plan and build infrastructure, for instance. We also need to coordinate within regions and across borders using a holistic approach. Indeed, international cooperation is of the essence."

Deputy Minister Sand told representatives from 28 European countries that the challenge was to shift from a focus on preparedness and response to one that concentrates on prevention.

He identified the importance of legislation in strengthening disaster risk reduction and that municipalities were the key to successful action on the ground.

Norway is seeking to better analyse future development through a disaster risk management lens as well as looking to reduce existing risk. Standards require domestic dwellings to be resilient for a one-in-100-year flood and for critical infrastructure and industry to be resilient for a one-in-200-year-flood.

Deputy Minister Sand said Norway was moving from "intellectually acknowledging disaster risk to more and more addressing it". He concluded: "We need to invest today for a safer tomorrow."

The 4th European Forum for Disaster Risk Reduction is hosted by the government of Norway and organized in collaboration with the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and the Council of Europe. The Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection (DSB) is the current chair of the European Forum.

The Forum advocates for strong implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action on disaster risk reduction and acts as a knowledge sharing platform for various European partners involved in this area.
The United Nations General Assembly requested UNISDR to facilitate the development of a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction The United Nations General Assembly requested UNISDR to facilitate the development of a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction.
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