Mr Kim Kihyun of Incheon City reflects on the completion of a safe Asian Games last month. (Photo: UNISDR)
By Andy McElroy
INCHEON, 5 November 2014
– Forty city officials from China, Japan and Republic of Korea today joined in a toast “to work towards zero casualties from disasters” as the countdown continues to the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, in Sendai, Japan, next March.
The General Officer of the Disaster Management Division of Incheon, Mr Kim Kihyun, welcomed delegates to the opening of the Trilateral Local Government Exchange Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction with a challenge to step up efforts to strengthen urban resilience.
“We have just managed to organize a successful and safe Asian Games here in Incheon and we are committed to make greater efforts to make our city even safer as when you forget about disasters that is the time one comes to you. I urge all of us to work towards zero casualties from disasters,” Mr Kihyun said.
The Local Government Exchange Conference is organized by the Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat (TCS) and is being held at UNISDR’s Global Education and Training Institute (GETI), hosted by the City of Incheon.
TCS is an inter-governmental body for China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea. At its 2014 Annual Conference, TCS described disaster management as a “key area” of progress in regional relations.
The Secretary-General of the TCS, Ambassador Iwatani Shigeo, said cities from all three countries needed to “explore cooperation on disaster risk reduction” in this era of climate change.
“This conference will help cities to continue building their capacity in disaster risk management and it will act as a useful platform for local governments to share their policies and experience,” Amb. Iwatani said.
The Trilateral Joint Statement on Disaster Management Cooperation issued by the heads of the respective government agencies for disaster commits to “enhance the three countries’ cooperation in international and regional conferences on disaster management held in each country, including the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction”.
The Head of GETI, Mr Sanjaya Bhatia, said that as climate-influenced disasters become more intense, frequent and unpredictable it is even more important to protect our cities “which are the engines of future growth and prosperity”.
“Local capacity in disaster resilience is set to be a priority in the post-2015 international framework. Disaster-resilient cities will be the cornerstone of future economic prosperity in North-East Asia and around the world,” Mr Bhatia said.
China, Japan and the Republic of Korea are home to 22 percent of the world’s population, much of it in urban areas, and collectively are also responsible for 20 percent of global trade volume.
UNISDR’s 2013 Global Assessment Report – entitled the Business Case for Disaster Risk Reduction –highlighted the “soft underbelly” of the spectacular development across North-East Asia over recent decades in that many economic, social and environmental assets exist on hazard-exposed coastlines and river basins.
Several cities in North-East Asia are highly exposed to natural hazards. Increasing the disaster risk management capacity of municipalities has emerged as a major theme of the post-2015 international framework on disaster risk reduction, due to be adopted at the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, held in Sendai, Japan, in March 2015.
City officials from the following are present at the Conference - Japan: Myagi Prefecture, Hyogo Prefecture, Niigata Prefecture, Shizuoka Prefecture, Ibaraki Prefecture, Tottori Prefecture; and The Japan Council of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR); China: Qinghai Province, and Sichuan Province; and Republic of Korea; Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries: Incheon Metropolitan City; Gyeonggi Province; Gyeongnam Province; Gapyeong County; and the Governors Association of Korea.