Hurricanes spur calls for disaster resilience

UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed and UNISDR head Robert Glasser last met at the Global Platform in Cancun, and both spoke this week at a special ECOSOC session on disaster resilience
 
By David Singh

Geneva, 26 October: Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Amina J. Mohammed, has called on Member States to do “more at all levels to manage disaster and climate risk and to prepare for future extreme weather events, which are likely to grow in severity and frequency.”

Addressing a Special Meeting on ‘the Aftermath of Recent Hurricanes: Achieving a Risk-informed and Resilient 2030 Agenda’ which was held by the United Nations Economic and Social Council in New York this week, Ms. Mohammed stressed that “Risk-informed sustainable development is an absolute necessity and should inform our policies and investment criteria.”

The Deputy Secretary-General said risk-informed development also required risk-governance systems that could overcome the policy, institutional and programme siloes in which work on climate change, disaster risk reduction and environment is often pursued.

“The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction gives us the tools to address new challenges and opportunities,” she said.

“Disasters can erase, in an instant, development gains made over many years, leading to death, displacement, damage, disruption and despair. The international community has a responsibility to support affected countries to become more resilient; to promote a risk-informed approach to reconstruction; and to strengthen their financial systems so that they can cope with such large-scale shocks," said Ms. Mohammed.

The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) continues to stress risk-informed investments as the means to save countless lives and significantly reduce the economic impact of disasters. Mr. Robert Glasser, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, said, “Recent hurricanes in the Caribbean, and earthquakes in Mexico, highlight the importance of the quality of the built environment. And, if investment is to facilitate the achievement of the sustainable development goals (SDGs), then it is critical for disaster risk reduction to be embedded in national development and financial plans.”

Mr. Glasser said that the Sendai Framework outlines how countries can “Build Back Better” after a disaster to reverse the trend of risk creation. “Reconstruction is an opportunity to avoid creating new risk and building more resilient societies by improving and enforcing building standards and land-use planning that protect people, infrastructure, social services and economic assets from all types of disasters prevalent in a country,” he said.

“The international community has a responsibility to do more to ensure support it provides to reconstruction and development reduces disaster risk rather than creates it. More can be done to ensure investments in infrastructure and housing are resilient, to bring these investments to scale, and to make resilience affordable. Much more can be done to properly discuss disaster risk reduction/management in the forums where financial policies are set,” Mr. Glasser stressed.

Addressing the Special Meeting yesterday, Mr. Miroslav Lajčák, President, United Nations General Assembly, revisited the devastation in the Caribbean by recent hurricanes and said: “The impact of these disasters has made clear that vulnerability is an obstacle to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The loss of income and productivity will constrain economic activity and growth. The cost of long-term recovery and rebuilding dwarfs the financial means of most of the affected countries.”

The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030) outlines clear targets and priorities to substantially reduce disaster risk and disaster losses over the next 15 years with a particular focus on reducing mortality, reducing the numbers of disaster affected, reducing economic losses and reducing damage to critical infrastructure.

Regional Platforms for Disaster Risk Reduction take place from Africa to the Pacific Regional Platforms for Disaster Risk Reduction take place from Africa to the Pacific.
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