UNISDR Chief, Mr. Robert Glasser, lights the lamp today at the opening of the Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in New Delhi, watched by the Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, and colleagues (Photo: UNISDR)
By Denis McClean
NEW DELHI, 3 November 2016 - Over 4,000 delegates, including representatives from over 40 countries, flocked to the opening today of the Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction which is the region’s first opportunity to review progress on implementing the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the global plan for reducing disaster losses.
The Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, issued a rousing call to “wholeheartedly embrace the Spirit of Sendai” and delivered a wide-ranging speech on the progress and challenges of disaster risk reduction in India and Asia (see story).
In a message to the Conference, UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, said: “The journey from Sendai continues here in Delhi, where the outcomes of your efforts will influence the disaster risk reduction agenda not just in Asia but in the world at large.”
He observed: “Perhaps the most important driver of disaster risk is weak disaster risk governance. Clear vision, plans, competence, guidance and coordination are essential. Many of you are already taking steps to ensure that your national disaster management agencies are focussed not just on managing disasters but also managing the risk which can lead to those disasters.
“I am confident that this Conference will bring further improvements in your already considerable efforts to reduce disaster losses across the region. I wish you every success.”
The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, Mr. Robert Glasser, said that “In order to achieve a substantial reduction in disaster losses by 2030, there is a clear need to build on Asia’s success in reducing mortality from floods and storms in particular.
“And as we look towards the deadline of 2020 for the delivery of a substantial increase in national and local plans for reducing disaster risk, we must embrace the other elements of the 2030 Development Agenda.
There is an opportunity to avoid duplication of effort by ensuring that plans for climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction complement each other and make the best use of available resources.”
Mr. Rajnath Singh, India’s Home Minister, told the gathering that he came from a State in India where he had witnessed at first hand the suffering that disasters can bring and it was a matter of great satisfaction to him that “our focus is moving from disaster management to disaster risk management.”
India adopted its first National Disaster Management Plan in June this year and it is fully aligned with the priorities for action of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.
Mr. Singh said that disasters know no boundaries and both disaster risk reduction and relief need to be supported by regular bilateral and international cooperation. India is moving towards resilience based on an understanding of disaster risk.
The Asian Ministerial Conference continues until Saturday when there will also be a commemoration of the first World Tsunami Awareness Day. A strong advocate for the creation of the day, Mr. Toshihiro Nikai, spoke at today’s opening and emphasised how important the day can become for the many countries in the region which suffered loss of lives in the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004.
The agenda includes three sessions for Ministerial statements and six technical sessions covering a wide range of topics. There are also four featured events today and tomorrow on the priorities for action in the Sendai Framework: understanding disaster risk; disaster risk governance; investing in disaster risk reduction; and disaster preparedness, response and recovery.