(l. to r.) UNISDR Chief, Margareta Wahlstrom, with IPU co-Rapporteurs, Sabir Chowdhury, and Philippe Mahoux, Belgium at today's session of the 130th IPU Assembly
By Denis McClean
GENEVA, 19 March 2014 - Parliamentarians from across the world are participating this week in a wide-ranging debate on disaster risk at the 130th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) which is set to adopt a ground-breaking resolution on risk-resilient development tomorrow.
The keynote address was given by UNISDR Chief Margareta Wahlström who said that the collaboration generated by the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) - the current global agreement adopted by UN Member States in 2005 and outlining the priorities for reducing the risk of disasters, was “extraordinary” - drawing in many different new stakeholders and constituencies such as the IPU.
She said that thanks to Rio+20, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, disasters are now a key issue for sustainable development.
Speaking directly to her audience, Ms. Wahlström said: “The world needs your engagement and support in the consultation process around the new global framework agreement on disaster risk reduction. We want you to be visible in the consultation process for HFA2.”
Ms. Wahlström said that since UNISDR launched the consultation process on a successor to the Hyogo Framework for Action five major issues had come to the fore: climate change and disasters are inter-linked; concerns over impacts of natural hazards on technology; the principle of inclusiveness in the consultation process; access to and availability of information as a “means for sharing information are still not effective”; and the failure to implement existing legislation.
She said the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in March 2015 presents a major opportunity to address these issues and to ensure that disaster risk reduction influences the sustainable development agenda.
Co-Rapporteur, Saber Chowdhury, from Bangladesh, recalled that during the period 200-12 disasters killed 1.2 million people, affected 2.9 billion and caused economic losses of approximately $1.7 trillion. Mr. Chowdhury is also a recognized UNISDR champion.
Advocating for adoption of the resolution which was first proposed by Bangladesh at the 128th Assembly of the IPU, a year ago, Mr. Chowdhury said: “This is an area where we have a really good opportunity to engage.” He added that disaster risk reduction was a strategic entry point for discussion of other issues including poverty, food security, education, health and water.
His co-Rapporteur, Philippe Mahoux, from Belgium, emphasized the importance of linkages between demographics, population issues, disasters and climate change.
The draft resolution underlines that demographic dynamics are a significant contributor to climate change and disaster risk insofar as they strain natural resources and ecosystems and heighten the vulnerability of communities – primarily to meet increasing demands for food, fresh water, timber and fuel.