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CEOs: 'We have resilience tools, let's use them'

More than 50 CEOs and top managers from the insurance, bank, airline, retail, real estate and other industries in Asia gathered today in Manila to consider incentives and benchmarking tools to make their corporations more resilient against disasters. The meeting comes two weeks after the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan, which, according to latest official figures, killed 5,209 people and continues to affect more than 10 million Filipinos. The host of the forum, Mr. Hans T. Sy, President of SM Prime Holdings Inc, the country’s largest mall operator, said: “The effect of climate change is coming sooner than expected. In the Philippines alone, we have experienced 104 significant typhoons and 72 floods since 2002.”
22 Nov 2013 News briefs

UNISDR launches new video competition

The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) is launching a new video clip competition under the theme “Promoting Investments for Resilient Nations and Communities”. The initiative, in partnership with the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM) of Thailand and Thai Public Broadcasting Service, follows the success of the Film Festival at the Fifth Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, in Indonesia, in October 2012. “We invite all participants, youth, students, media, film makers, experts and the general public to participate in the video competition and to see how they view disaster risk reduction issues. Their voice matters to us especially now we are discussing the successor of the Hyogo Framework for Action” said Brigitte Leoni of the UNISDR Asia Pacific office.
25 Nov 2013 News briefs

DRR takes centre stage of typhoon recovery

Disaster risk reduction is emerging as central to the Philippines’ recovery and reconstruction plans in the wake of the devastating Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as Yolanda. One of several leaders supporting increased investment in resilient structures is Mayor Ian Christopher Escario of Bantayan municipality, who oversaw a mass evacuation that limited the number of deaths to 15 people out of 90,000 in the face of the typhoon. “We were able to evacuate 30,000 people a couple of days before using sirens and radio messages. People were informed but nobody could foresee the violence of the storm surge,” Mayor Escario said. “Now we need to invest more in resilient infrastructures as all the roofs of the buildings have been blown away. Economic losses are huge and we are still assessing the damages and will take the necessary lessons of what happened.”
26 Nov 2013 News briefs

The ‘silent disaster of local losses’

Largely unreported disasters across the Americas over the past two decades account for the majority of economic losses and more than half of all disaster-related deaths, according to new findings from the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. A 22-year analysis of 16 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean reveals that smaller, localized and more recurrent disasters that rarely, if ever, make the news cumulatively account for 90 per cent of the total number of people affected by disaster and are also responsible for 90 per cent of destruction or damage of homes. “This is irrevocable evidence on the cumulative impact of those disasters that are small, occur locally and are often ‘invisible’,” said Ricardo Mena the Head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) for the Americas.
27 Nov 2013 News briefs

Arab region pushes for decentralized post-2015 framework

A major Arab regional consultation on the post-2015 international framework for disaster risk reduction has pinpointed governance and accountability and better local and national coordination as the key issues to strengthen. The League of Arab States hosted representatives from governments, specialized organizations, UN and international partners and civil society representatives as they developed a unified regional position on priorities for post-2015. The new agreement is expected to be adopted at the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan, in March 2015 as a successor to the current Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015.
27 Nov 2013 News briefs

Cities campaign at core of island development plans

The 10 essentials of the Making Cities Resilient have formed a key part of a series of ambitious local action plans to strengthen sustainable development in Lanzarote. A coalition of political representatives and 33 community sectors who comprise the Biosphere Reserve Committee have joined to drive the impressive effort to strengthen local resilience on the Canary Island, in the Atlantic, off the north-west coast of Africa. An integrated management system has been developed covering 10 sectors, including energy, water and waste management, to strengthen climate change mitigation and adaptation.
28 Nov 2013 News briefs

Haiyan experiences confirm disability survey findings

This year’s International Day for Disaster Reduction published a survey that revealed how people living with disabilities are extremely vulnerable during times of disaster. Eighty percent would be unable to evacuate immediately without difficulty in the event of sudden disaster. Six percent said they would not be able to evacuate at all. The survey, published on October 13, also revealed that 71 percent of respondents have no personal preparedness plan for disasters. Only 31 percent always have someone to help them evacuate while 13 percent never do. On the plus side, respondents and their care-givers told vivid stories of resourceful people struggling against exclusion. In the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, in the Philippines, a similar picture of people living with disabilities and their care-givers in times of disaster is emerging: they are both vulnerable as well as remarkably resilient. Below, five snapshots tell how people living with disabilities and their care-givers were affected by Typhoon Haiyan and how they are now facing up to rebuilding their lives and livelihoods. The stories were originally told by Chelsea Huggett of CBM International.
29 Nov 2013 News briefs

Tunisia’s database a DRR ‘game-changer’

Tunisia has taken an important step to strengthen its national disaster management with the establishment of a new disaster loss database The database was validated at a major disaster risk reduction forum that also saw 120 practitioners and policymakers recommend that the post-2015 international framework for disaster risk reduction be a more accountable and legally binding charter or convention with funding attached for its implementation. The new database includes previously unreported localized (known as extensive) disasters as well as the more widely reported, bigger disasters (known as intensive).
2 Dec 2013 News briefs

Indian Ocean islands move to strengthen DRR

Indian Ocean states are taking important steps to strengthen their individual and collective disaster risk management. Five islands – the Union of the Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, and Zanzibar – are working to establish and manage disaster loss databases. The 2005-15 Hyogo Framework for Action highlights the importance of accounting for past losses that can provide a basis for better risk assessments, more appropriate disaster planning and effective measures to reduce vulnerability and exposure. The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), in a joint effort with the Indian Ocean Commission’s (IOC) ISLANDS Project, is supporting the strengthening of local capacities and expertise so that the countries are able to produce their own risk assessments and loss databases.
3 Dec 2013 News briefs

30 days on Tacloban remembers

Sunday marked thirty days since Typhoon Haiyan (known as Yolanda locally) tried to rip the heart out of the Eastern Visayas region of the Philippines with winds from hell that sucked the sea along with them to take the lives of thousands and leave millions homeless. The strength of the Philippine people in the wake of one of the worst typhoons ever to make landfall, is something special to behold. Yesterday they even managed to turn on some Christmas lights in the centre of Tacloban, the commercial heart of the disaster zone, despite the continuing curfew and absence of street lighting. The predominantly Catholic city remembered its dead on the Second Sunday of Advent as hundreds packed into the partly roofless Church of Santa Ninõ to give thanks for the gift of life and to receive the only kind of psychological support available here for those who have been traumatized by the loss of family and friends: the age old solace of religion.
9 Dec 2013 News briefs

Global insurance group boosts DRR partnership

A global insurance company has provided a significant boost to public-private partnerships aimed at reducing disaster risk. The Chairman and CEO of the AXA Group, Mr Henri de Castries, signed a Statement of Commitment by the Private Sector for Disaster Prevention, Resilience and Risk Reduction, at AXA’s head office in Paris, during a meeting with the Chief of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) Ms Margareta Wahlström. “The AXA Group is already supporting the work of UNISDR’s Private Sector Advisory Group so it makes sense now to become a full member of the Partnership,” said Mr. de Castries, whose AXA Group has 160,000 employees in 57 countries.
9 Dec 2013 News briefs

New legislation strengthens EU disaster risk management

The European Parliament today paved the way for stronger cooperation in responding to disasters by adopting new legislation on the EU Civil Protection Mechanism set to come into force at the beginning of 2014. The EU Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Ms Kristalina Georgieva, welcomed the vote, which she said would benefit Europe's citizens and communities globally. “A rising trend in natural and man-made disasters over the past decade has demonstrated that coherent, efficient and effective policies on disaster management are needed now more than ever”. Ms Georgieva said.
10 Dec 2013 News briefs

Tacloban to call typhoon summit

The City of Tacloban which accounts for almost 50% of the dead and displaced in the Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as Yolanda) disaster, is to hold a summit inviting mayors and other public representatives to come to the city to talk about the lessons learned for disaster risk management. The announcement comes with recognition by the city authorities that there were several barriers to compliance with evacuation procedures despite many sweeps through the most exposed neighbourhoods – or Barangays as they are known in the Philippines – by teams of local volunteers and officials led by the Barangay captains. Three days before Typhoon Haiyan struck, a meeting was called by the City Mayor, Alfred Romualdez, of all 138 Barangay Captains to be briefed on the coming storm and they were all instructed to order their constituents to evacuate. The meeting was reportedly attended by about 75% of all Barangay captains.
10 Dec 2013 News briefs

Private sector to the fore in Haiyan response

Private sector representatives took their place today alongside the usual line-up of NGOs and international organizations who came together to brainstorm a rehabilitation plan for those parts of Cebu province which suffered significant losses because of Typhoon Haiyan (known in the Philippines as Yolanda). Governor Hilario Davide III said the plan would be ready for launch in mid-January and praised the private sector for its active partnership with the provincial government in both the relief effort and now in the planning for the rehabilitation phase. “Public-private partnerships will become increasingly important as we move from the response phase to rehabilitation and seek to build back better,” he said.
11 Dec 2013 News briefs

UN sets the stage for adoption of a new global agreement on disaster risk in 2015

The United Nations General Assembly has set the stage for a new global agreement on reducing the impact of disasters by confirming that the 3rd World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction will take place in Sendai City, Japan from 14 to 18 March 2015. The main item on the Conference agenda is agreement on a successor to the Hyogo Framework for Action which was adopted at the last such Conference in 2005 within weeks of the Indian Ocean tsunami and which was attended by representatives from 168 UN Member States. Over 8,000 people are expected to attend the 2015 event including heads of State, government ministers, parliamentarians, academics, NGO and other civil society representatives. UNISDR Chief Margareta Wahlström said: “The 3rd World Conference provides us with a rare opportunity to forge universal agreement on how to build disaster resilience across all sectors of society. It is particularly important that we have a strong urban focus as we expect 75% of the world’s population to be living in towns and cities by 2050.” Sendai City is the capital city of Miyagi Prefecture in the Tōhoku region with a population of one million people. In March 2011, it was one of the cities affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, which killed over 15,000 people and is one of the costliest disasters in history. Ms. Emiko Okuyama, the Mayor of Sendai City, today unveiled the Conference logo. She said: “This logo was designed by a local designer and represents people joining hands to create a chain of action. The five colours stand for the five priorities of Hyogo Framework for Action (2005-2015): Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters which brought the concept of resilience into the mainstream of development thinking. We look forward to hosting the Conference and to welcoming the world to the Tohoku region which has made a strong recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake.”
12 Dec 2013 Press release

Re-location, re-location, re-location…

The ground floor patients including those in intensive care had a narrow escape. Indeed, as the tidal surge broke through the hospital’s perimeter wall security guards had to come and rescue the director of Leyte Island’s largest public hospital, the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center (EVRMC), as he struggled waist deep in water in his hospital residence overlooking the sea. Dr. Cirilo R. Galindez who is now on secondment from Luzon as acting hospital director, describes the frenetic activity following the slow realization that the hospital was about to be inundated by sea-water as a result of Typhoon Haiyan in the early dawn hours of November 8. “In about twenty minutes they had to move all the patients from the ground floor to the second floor including those in the intensive care unit. The staff did a superb job and there were no casualties among the patients,” he said.
12 Dec 2013 News briefs

Incheon clicks into DRR advocacy action

A major ‘City to City Learning’ forum on resilience heralds a renewed effort of global knowledge sharing ahead of the post-2015 international framework for disaster risk reduction. Ten cities in South Asia and Iran and 27 from the Republic of Korea have agreed to share experience and consolidate their commitment for local action, as part of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction’s (UNISDR) Making Cities Resilient Campaign. The 37 cities focused on urban risk management, risk sensitive urban planning, local action and critical infrastructure safety with specific focus on school safety as part of their discussions on the post-2015 framework.
12 Dec 2013 News briefs

Bieber puts spotlight on disaster zone schools

Pop idol Justin Bieber paid a surprise visit to the San Jose Elementary School in Tacloban this week. He stayed about 30 minutes, hugged the kids, sang a few songs, signed some autographs and landed on the front pages of all the Philippine newspapers. If nothing else, his visit brought a spotlight to bear on the precarious lives of thousands of children with no school to go to for the last four weeks. Over 600 schools were destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan. Despite a government instruction for classes to re-open on December 2, many, such as the Anibong Elementary School overlooking the ship-strewn shoreline of the neighbourhoods known as barangays 68 and 70, remain packed with evacuees.
13 Dec 2013 News briefs

Cebu ready to build back better

The Philippines Province of Cebu prides itself on its zero casualty policy when it comes to disasters. As of yesterday, it had recorded just 73 of the 6,057 deaths so far attributed to Typhoon Haiyan despite the widespread damage and loss to housing, critical infrastructure and agriculture especially in northern Cebu where Haiyan made two of its six landfalls in the Philippines. Governor Hilario Davide III explained: “I would credit the low fatalities first to the people themselves and the local government units who heeded our advice and warnings to evacuate people from the areas that were most vulnerable to the typhoon.” Some estimates put the number of people who evacuated in Cebu as high as one million. The Governor also said that the earthquake which hit in October may have been a strange blessing in disguise as it gave people a sharp reminder of the threat posed by natural hazards.
16 Dec 2013 News briefs

Historic snow storm challenges Middle East preparedness

The worst snow storm in decades affected large parts of the Middle East and tested disaster preparedness and management in the region. ‘Alexa’ affected several states, including Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and Syria, causing evacuations, blackouts, damage to thousands of homes, road closures, and livestock losses. Snow fell in the Egyptian capital Cairo for the first time in more than 100 years ago, according to local news reports. In Palestine, heavy flooding across the Gaza Strip displaced approximately 10,000 people to temporary shelters. Heavy snow cut off dozens of communities across the West Bank and tens of thousands of homes were left without electricity. Significant loss of livestock occurred.
18 Dec 2013 News briefs

Cyclone evacuation to become a global example

The effective evacuation of almost 1 million people in Odisha ahead of Cyclone Phailin will be highlighted as a global example in the lead-up to the 3rd World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, in 2015. The Head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), Ms Margareta Wahlström, lauded Odisha for its ‘landmark success’ actions in limiting the number of deaths directly caused by the cyclone to 21. “We have started work on documenting the Odisha success story and will highlight it as an example at the World Conference. It is easy to talk about problems and failures. We have to bring into people’s minds what works,” Ms Wahlström said.
23 Dec 2013 News briefs

Local leaders pinpoint key to early warning success

Local leaders in cyclone-hit Odisha said their successful early warning ahead of the recent Cyclone Phailin was down to good information that was delivered on time and acted upon quickly. On a tour of cyclone-ravaged Ganjam district, the Head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), Ms Margareta Wahlström, heard that 30,000 people had been evacuated in less than 30 hours. The District Collector of Ganjam, Mr Krishan Kumar, said the prompt movement of people from villages within 5km of the coast was crucial in dramatically reducing the number of casualties.
24 Dec 2013 News briefs

Dominican Republic approves disaster risk plan

The Dominican Republic has adopted a new ‘National Plan for Comprehensive Disaster Risk Management’. The President of the Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina, approved the plan that will define policy guidelines and basic principles for public and private institutions and civil society organizations. The plan focuses on the implementation of programmes that reduce disaster risk, ensure the safety of citizens and protect the country’s economic, social, environmental and cultural heritage.
26 Dec 2013 News briefs

Philippines unveils dedicated disaster risk budget for 2014

The Philippines’ national budget for 2014 has ensured dedicated funding for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation programmes. The move, just weeks after the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan, represents a significant change in the country’s funding priorities to include proactive disaster risk management as well as a focus on response and rehabilitation. A new US$293 million National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund replaces what was previously known as the Calamity Fund, which had a previous budget of US$158 million.
30 Dec 2013 News briefs

Hard-hit herders move to reduce their disaster risk

Herders whose livestock was devastated by a cyclone are taking steps to reduce their vulnerability and exposure to future disasters. A combination of freakish freezing temperatures, high winds and severe floods after a cyclone in November in Puntland, Somalia, hit several communities hard. Dozens of people died and up to one million livestock were wiped out, according to a post-cyclone operations update from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). In the wake of the disaster some herders have sought to reduce their disaster risk by finding areas that afford better protection from extreme weather events for themselves and their livestock.
8 Jan 2014 News briefs

Local self-assessment leads to resilience

UNISDR’s Local Government Self-Assessment Tool (LGSAT) is an effective tool to assess a city’s institutional capacity to build resilience, a new report has found. The study said the LGSAT opened up dialogue and enabled the establishment of baseline data for the Ten Essentials of UNISDR’s Making Cities Resilient Campaign “that can be used to track progress as the cities continue to build disaster and climate resilience”. The report, titled ‘Assessing City Resilience: Lessons from using the UNISDR Local Government Self-Assessment Tool in Thailand and Vietnam’, said the LGSAT enabled local discussions to take place within an internationally-applied framework of common issues. The study looked at four cities – Hue and Lao Cai, in Vietnam, and Udon Thani and Hat Yai, in Thailand – and identified gaps between policy and practice, and between planning and implementation.
10 Jan 2014 News briefs

GETI supports model Haiyan recovery effort

The Philippines province of Cebu is emerging as a model for recovery four months after Typhoon Haiyan devastated large parts of the country. Cebu Resilience Taskforce Coordinator Baltz Tribunalo identified several factors behind progress, including vital capacity building support from the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR). Expert trainers from UNISDR’s Global Education and Training Institute (GETI), based in Incheon, South Korea and International Recovery Platform, based in Kobe, Japan, provided hands-on mentoring at a Disaster Recovery Planning workshop in Cebu City, drawing on the province’s recovery plans as well as feeding in lessons learnt on resilience building from around the world. “The most useful element of the training was its consistent message that disaster risk reduction has to have a central part in the complete package of recovery and rehabilitation,” said Mr Tribunalo, who is also adviser to Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III on climate smart disaster risk management.
10 Jan 2014 News briefs

Pooled knowledge key to food security

More than 100 of the world’s leading food system researchers, practitioners and policymakers heard today how dynamic new approaches are strengthening risk management and resilience. The forum, titled ‘Visualising the World’s Food Systems to Better Manage Risk and Resilience’, was told that ‘the new normal’ of fast-accelerating demand for food, energy and water in a changing climate and era of volatility had potentially devastating human and environmental consequences. As the global population grows from 7 billion to almost 9 billion by 2040, and the number of middle-class consumers increases by 3 billion over the next 20 years, the demand for resources will rise exponentially.
14 Jan 2014 News briefs

SDGs open way for ‘resilient development’

“Disaster risk reduction should not be seen only as an imperative to protecting investments in development, but also as an opportunity for a transformative shift towards resilient development.” This rousing statement from disaster-prone Bangladesh was one of several calls from governments for disaster and climate risk considerations to be incorporated at every stage of development. The seventh session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals heard consistent support for the integration of disaster risk management within each sector that may be addressed by the goals, such as poverty eradication, energy, health, food security.
15 Jan 2014 News briefs

Study outlines EU approach to loss databases

– A comprehensive study has outlined the path towards a standardized European approach to systematically record and manage disaster loss databases. The report, titled ‘Recording Disaster Losses: Recommendations for a European approach’, is in response to the European Union’s desire to find a mechanism to record systematically disaster losses and provide European loss data to international initiatives so that global trends can be charted. “Risk assessment requires accurate recording of previous disasters and in particular the associated losses in terms of human casualties, property and environment damage as well as economic loss,” the report says.
16 Jan 2014 News briefs
The United Nations General Assembly requested UNISDR to facilitate the development of a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction The United Nations General Assembly requested UNISDR to facilitate the development of a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction.
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