The attendance at the opening today of the 1st Asia Science and Technology Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction
By Andy McElroy
BANGKOK, 23 August 2016 - Scientists and researchers were today urged to provide "solutions and guidance" so that policymakers are able to effectively address the challenge of escalating disaster risk.
The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (SRSG) for Disaster Risk Reduction, Mr Robert Glasser, said successive record-breaking hot months because of climate change were a "frightening development" that makes the need for risk-informed policymaking even more pressing.
“This is a critical time in the history of the planet when many look to the science and technology community for solutions and guidance. Politicians and policymakers are challenged on a daily basis by extreme weather events, poverty, environmental decline, population growth, rapid urbanisation and – most fundamentally – climate change. In short, the major drivers of disaster risk,” Mr Glasser said.
“Last year was the hottest year on record. We saw a large increase in the number of major heatwaves and droughts. Millions of people are living with the consequences of the first major El Nino event now visibly occurring on the back of climate change.”
He continued: "The January-July 2016 global land and ocean temperature was the warmest such period on record at 1.03°C above the 20th century average.This a frightening development considering that in December last year the world agreed in Paris to try to keep global temperature rises at no more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels. And the Paris Agreement on climate has still not cleared the threshold for ratification."
Mr Glasser was speaking in a video address to the 1st Asian Science and Technology Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction, in Bangkok, which has attracted more than 300 policymakers, community practitioners, scientists, researchers and academics, and business representatives.
“We need to respond to this crisis with the same sense of urgency that countries in Asia discovered after the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004, which propelled the creation of the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System with the engagement of the region's science and technology community,” Mr Glasser said.
Dr Sumet Tantivejkul, the Chairman of Utokapat Foundation and Honorary Chairman of the Hydro and Agro Informatics Institute (HAII), said Thailand’s extensive experience of integrated climate and disaster resilient development at the community level demonstrated that researchers and policymakers could rise to the challenge again.
“We have learnt that science and technology can be effective tools for governments, communities, NGOs and the private sector to reduce disaster risk and losses,” Dr Tantivejkul said.
The meeting is expected to adopt an Outcome Document that will provide a series of recommendations for the upcoming Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, to be hosted by the Government of India, in New Delhi, 02-05 November.
These recommendations will also feed into the Roadmap agreed at the UNISDR Science and Technology Conference on the Implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 which was held earlier this year in Geneva.
Science and technology has been identified as a key element to the successful implementation of the Sendai Framework, the world’s most ambitious plan to date to substantially reduce disaster losses and strengthen resilience by setting seven targets against which to measure progress.
The 1st Asian Science and Technology Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction was organized by the HAII with the support of UNISDR and its Asian Science Technology and Academia Advisory Group (ASTAAG), the Integrated Research on Disaster Risk programme, and Future Earth.