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Pacific unites on development agenda

The small islands of the Pacific continue to lead the world in efforts to unite climate change and disaster risk reduction initiatives under one development agenda. “Sustainable development for us is a matter of national security,” said Mr David Sheppard, the Director General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), before a packed forum entitled ‘Meeting the sustainability challenge in the post-2015 era: A vision for resilient nations, large and small’. “We are working to protect people and the environment and that means we have to support livelihoods in a way that reinforces sustainable development and builds on the rich tradition of human settlement in the Pacific. There are many examples of Pacific solutions being tailored for Pacific problems.”
20 Nov 2013 News briefs

Senator urges ‘don’t rebuild risks again’

As the Philippines embarks on a massive recovery effort in the wake of super typhoon Haiyan, one of the country’s leading senators said it is vital that “we do not rebuild the risks again”. Senator Loren Legarda lent her full support to ongoing efforts in search and rescue and emergency relief but also emphasized the need for a longer term vision of reconstruction that will reduce the vulnerability and exposure of communities to hazards. “Affected citizens immediately need food, water, clothing, shelter and medicines but we must now also start addressing the need to rehabilitate affected communities,” said Sen. Legarda, who is Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change. “It will not be enough to build people’s lives and communities to where they were before the disaster; we need to rebuild communities with the confidence that we are not rebuilding the risks again.
13 Nov 2013 News briefs

Super Typhoon Haiyan "a turning point" for disaster risk management

The Head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, Margareta Wahlström, today extended her condolences to the Philippines government and people on the heavy loss of life and extensive damage to critical infrastructure, homes and workplaces caused by the devastating Category 5 Cyclone Haiyan or Yolanda as it is known in the Philippines.
12 Nov 2013 Press release

Philippines plea: 'stop this climate madness'

The Philippines’ lead negotiator at the UN Climate Change Convention, whose home town was devastated by super typhoon Haiyan, told today’s conference opening that “disasters are never natural”. “We must stop calling events like these as natural disasters,” Mr Yeb Sano said in his address to the Convention's 19th Conference of the Parties in Warsaw. “It is not natural when people continue to struggle to eradicate poverty and pursue development and get battered by the onslaught of a monster storm. “Disasters are never natural. They are the intersection of factors other than physical. They are the accumulation of the constant breach of economic, social and environmental thresholds.
11 Nov 2013 News briefs

Biggest storm of 2013 set to hit Philippines

The Philippines’ comprehensive disaster risk management strategy has swung into action as the country braces itself for the arrival tomorrow of the planet’s strongest storm this year As super typhoon Haiyan bears down on the Philippines, the country’s President, Mr. Benigno Aquino, has directed maximum efforts to achieve the government’s zero casualty goal, which lies at the heart of the country’s disaster planning. A series of risk management and preparedness measures have clicked into action across regions and provinces that potentially lie in the typhoon’s path, including the planned evacuation of almost two million.
7 Nov 2013 News briefs

Seoul Declaration strengthens regional cooperation

The Heads of disaster management from China, Japan and the Republic of Korea have agreed to boost regional cooperation in the key areas of technology, information management and training programmes. The 3rd Trilateral Heads of Government Agency Meeting on Disaster Management issued a Joint Declaration emphasizing the vital role of regional cooperation to reduce disaster risk. The Vice Minister of Civil Affairs of China Gu Zhaoxi, Senior Vice-Minister of the Cabinet Office of Japan Nishimura Yasutoshi, and Administrator of National Emergency Management Agency of the Republic of Korea Nam Sang-ho announced a series of collaborative initiatives.
1 Nov 2013 News briefs

New York moves on from Sandy

Exactly a year ago, Sandy proved to be the most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, severely impacting lives and economies in seven countries. For the United States, it was the second-costliest hurricane in its history and affected the entire eastern seaboard, causing an alarming economic bill of up to $50 billion. New York City was one of the worst affected. On the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy this week, however, the city appears occupied with its future rather than its past. Heeding the signs of a changing climate, in June this year, New York City released its plan to protect the city from coastal hazards and climate change impacts called A Stronger, More Resilient New York.
1 Nov 2013 News briefs

Farmers reap fruits of risk management

Fijian papaya farmers and exporters whose businesses were devastated by a 2012 cyclone are emerging from near bankruptcy with better protected livelihoods thanks to a stronger approach to disaster risk management. Last December’s Cyclone Evan decimated crops and slashed papaya exports by almost 90 per cent prompting an industry-wide rethink on how such a catastrophic experience could be minimized in future. As a result, beleaguered farmers and exporters are changing practices to address increasing climate extremes: production is spreading away from traditional crop heartlands; budgets increasingly factor in contingency for disasters; planting is on smaller blocks and a more regular basis; seed trees are selected to suit local conditions more; and bigger stocks of seed are in store to accelerate post-disaster recovery.
31 Oct 2013 News briefs

Albania looks to regional insurance

As disasters continue to cost Albania dearly the country is cooperating on the launch of an innovative regional insurance scheme to complement a stronger domestic approach to disaster risk management. The Albanian Government has joined with Europa Re, the World Bank and the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) in preparatory work to launch the South Eastern Europe and Caucasus Catastrophe Risk insurance Facility. The mechanism should reduce the country’s significant fiscal exposure to disasters as a result of various hazards and man-made risk drivers. The insurance facility aims to provide cover for earthquakes and floods. Further risk models are due to be developed for extreme weather insurance.
29 Oct 2013 News briefs

Build resilient towns to avoid loss during disasters

Today marks the anniversary of the 1999 Super Cyclone that killed almost 10,000 people and washed away decades of development in the Indian State of Odisha. In the 14 years since the disaster, Odisha denotes 29 October as National Day for Disaster Reduction. This year’s event has added resonance as it comes days after Cyclone Phailin caused widespread devastation in Odisha. In today’s edition of The Pioneer, the second oldest English newspaper in India and one of the country’s leading publications, Dr Piyush Ranjan Rout, an Advocate for UNISDR’s Making Cities Resilient Campaign and cofounder of the Local Governance Network in India, says Odisha’s disaster management has improved dramatically but still more needs to be done. An edited abstract appears below. Odisha has 480km of coastline, from Baleswar in the north to Ganjam in the south, drained by six peninsular river systems: Subarnarekha, Budhabalang, Brahmani, Baitarani, Mahanadi, Rushikulya and their tributaries.
29 Oct 2013 News briefs

Millions back 'Disability is not Inability' message

One tweet on 13 October this year, "Disability is not inability! I am supporting this year's International Day for Disaster Reduction", was the simple message that galvanized over five million people all over the world on social media around the critical issue of persons living with disabilities and disasters.
28 Oct 2013 News briefs

Cities campaign helps reduce cyclone losses

Last week's devastating Cyclone Phalin is so far estimated to have cost $700 million. This figure would be higher but for the affected Indian State of Odisha's strong record in disaster management, according to a leading urban activist based in the State capital of Bhubaneswar. Dr Piyush Ranjan Rout, who is an advocate for UNISDR's Making Cities Resilient Campaign, said the focus on accountability and reducing disaster risk had avoided an even worse outcome.
23 Oct 2013 News briefs

UNISDR training puts DRR top of the news

A global initiative to increase coverage of disaster risk reduction issues in the media culminated last week in the Pacific. ECHO and the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) jointly organized the series of workshops, which has trained more than 100 journalists from 45 countries. An intensive two-day forum in Suva, Fiji, was the final event of the series, which also included trainings in Lao PDR, Myanmar, Philippines, Tanzania, Tunisia, and Switzerland.
22 Oct 2013 News briefs

Earthquake disrupts hospitals and schools

The death toll in Tuesday’s 7.2 earthquake in the Philippines has risen to 156 with 3.2 million people affected including 47,000 displaced. There have been 1,213 aftershocks recorded including 24 of which were felt. An assessment released today by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council cites damage or destruction of over 2,000 homes and damage to seaports, airports, churches, government/public buildings, hospitals and private establishments in the Provinces of Bohol, Cebu, Iloilo, Negros Occidental and Leyte. Two bodies were recovered yesterday from the inside the collapsed Congressman Castillo Memorial Hospital and city engineers declared three other hospitals in Cebu City unsafe to be occupied.
17 Oct 2013 News briefs

Disasters big threat to reducing extreme poverty says ODI

Disaster risk management should be a key component of poverty reduction efforts, focusing on protecting livelihoods as well as saving lives, a major report launched today urges. The post-2015 development goals must include targets on disasters and climate change, recognising the threat they pose to the headline goal of eradicating extreme poverty, the study from the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) says. “This report provides a glimpse of what we can expect to happen to the world’s poorest people if we pursue a business as usual approach to helping them prepare for disasters,” said Mr Tom Mitchell, one of the authors of ‘The geography of poverty, disasters and climate extremes in 2030’.
16 Oct 2013 News briefs

Open data makes disaster risks visible

As UNISDR makes its final call for input to the Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction (GAR15) the role of open data and risk information is emerging as an essential element of sustainable development. Preparations for the UN flagship report are gathering pace and there is growing research into the modeling of disaster risks, which can provide the type of information to help governments plan better, educate people to make informed decisions, and assist companies to ensure their investments are secure. “We are in a relationship with risk and we need to manage that relationship. In fact, we like risk in many ways but need to make sure we are risk aware. In order to do this, people need access to the best possible information,” said UNISDR’s Information Management Coordinator Craig Duncan.
15 Oct 2013 News briefs

DRR champion launches national Resilience Award

Philippines Senator Loren Legarda marked the 2013 International Day for Disaster Reduction with the launch of a national Resilience Award to inspire local leadership to build safer communities. The United Nations Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation unveiled the initiative on the same weekend in which Typhoon Nari left at least 13 people dead in the northern provinces of the Philippines; a sobering reminder of the urgent need to strengthen resilience in this highly-hazard prone country. At least 750,000 people were affected before the typhoon made its way out into the South China Sea towards China and Viet Nam.
14 Oct 2013 News briefs

UN global survey explains why so many people living with disabilities die in disasters

The results of the first-ever UN global survey of persons living with disabilities on how they cope with disasters, illustrates why they die, or are injured, in disproportionate numbers in disasters. An estimated 15% of the world’s population lives with some form of disability. Whether in multi-hazard prone United States of America or Bangladesh, earthquake-prone Italy or flood-prone Thailand, people living with disabilities across the world say they are rarely consulted about their needs and only 20% could evacuate immediately without difficulty in the event of a sudden disaster event, the remainder could only do so with a degree of difficulty and 6% would not be able to do so at all. If given sufficient time, the percentage of those who could evacuate with no difficulty rises from 20% to 38% but 58% feel they would still have either some, or a lot of, difficulty while 4% would still not be able to evacuate.
10 Oct 2013 Press release

74 parliaments, one message: Reduce disaster risk

Legislators from 74 parliaments around the world yesterday agreed that building safer and more resilient communities requires a paradigm shift towards a “disaster risk-sensitive development model”. In a debate entitled “Towards risk-resilient development: Taking into account demographic trends and natural constraints” the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s (IPU) 129th Assembly’s moved a step closer to adopting a resolution on the issue at its Spring 2014 assembly. One of the most striking interventions came from Chilean National Congress Deputy Dr Fernando Meza Moncada who described how, as a 14-year-old in 1960, he witnessed the most powerful earthquake in recorded history as it “swallowed houses whole killing hundreds of people”.
8 Oct 2013 News briefs

Call for post-2015 urban development goal

The World’s biggest forum of local leaders has called for sustainable urban development to be integral to the post-2015 development agenda. The Rabat Declaration at the conclusion of the Fourth United Cities and Local Governments Congress stated: “The new (post-2015) agenda should include specific goals for Sustainable Urban Development.” The Declaration also emphasized the importance of inclusion and a local focus. “The right to the city, inclusion, equality, access to essential services, decent work, adequate housing, culture, and a balanced environment are essential elements in the sustainable future for all.
7 Oct 2013 News briefs

Cities key to mitigating flood risk

Increased urban flooding poses a direct threat to the wellbeing of several metropolitan areas unless cities became more inclusive in their approaches to reduce disaster risk, the world’s biggest congress of local leaders was told Last year 116 million people around the world were affected by floods and many millions were forced to flee their homes. The Head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), Ms Margareta Wahlström, told participants at the Fourth United Cities and Local Governments Congress that “inclusive cities are resilient cities”.
4 Oct 2013 News briefs

Desert Oasis Towns May Disappear

The mayor of an isolated oasis town yesterday warned that these 'desert islands of humanity' may disappear as a result of climate change unless drastic action is taken.
3 Oct 2013 News briefs

African universities reach out to local disaster managers

A leading academic has called on universities to engage more with vulnerable communities and to empower local disaster managers in their efforts to address various daunting challenges.
3 Oct 2013 News briefs

Finland set to launch HFA peer review

Finland is set to follow in the footsteps of the UK this week and launch a peer review of its national implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA), the global agreement on disaster risk reduction. The 4th European Forum for Disaster Risk Reduction (EFDRR) heard that Finland is aiming for the same impact as the UK’s peer review – the world’s first – which served as a catalyst for high-level engagement and reflection. As Finland prepared for its review, which gets underway on 5 October, EFDRR members called for a better understanding of advances in governance and accountability of disaster management. They agreed to consolidate Europe’s learning in this regard.
1 Oct 2013 News briefs

Climate change will lead to dramatic escalation of disasters and economic losses says UNISDR

Based on current disaster trends and economic values, the world is looking at a minimum cost in the region of 25 trillion dollars in disaster losses for the 21st century if there is no concerted response to climate change, one which puts the emphasis on practical measures to reduce disaster risk and exposure to future extreme events. Margareta Wahlström, the Head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, said: “The robust science behind the latest Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change report translates into a world of catastrophic losses unless there are wholesale changes in how we allocate resources to prepare for extreme weather events. We are looking at losses the equivalent of one-third of annual global GDP. Clearly this is neither sustainable nor acceptable.
30 Sep 2013 Press release

Let’s go beyond the death toll in disaster data collection

UNISDR Chief, Margareta Wahlström, made a special plea this week for improved data collection in disaster situations in order to provide a better insight into disability-related injuries. In parallel with high-level proceedings at the United Nations General Assembly, leading disability and disaster risk reduction advocates came together in New York to share lessons from disasters past.
27 Sep 2013 News briefs

Disaster risk forum honours champion of local action

A champion of local action to reduce disaster risk was this week honoured for his years of commitment in support of building safer and more resilient communities worldwide. The European Forum for Disaster Risk Reduction presented Dr Ilan Kelman with the Damir Čemerin Award for Local Change for his work to link disaster risk reduction with climate change adaptation.
26 Sep 2013 News briefs

Old Oslo airport becomes HFA showcase

An innovative Norwegian development is successfully addressing the most challenging priorities of the Hyogo Framework for Action: reducing underlying factors that drive urban disaster risk.
25 Sep 2013 News briefs

Local and regional leaders meet in Rabat to discuss 21st century agenda for Cities

With less than ten days left for the 2nd World Summit of Local and regional Leaders and the 4th United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) Congress, the city of Rabat is preparing to host from 1-4 October 2013 one of the biggest assemblies of local and regional elected representatives from across the world.
25 Sep 2013 News briefs

People with disabilities: a power for change not a burden

BANGKOK, 20 September 2013 – Chaiyaphon Phupharat knows what he is talking about when he speaks about disability and how people living with disabilities are more vulnerable when disasters happen. In 1995, when he was 33 years old, Mr Chaiyaphon was involved in a road accident and has been in a wheelchair since. The incident prompted him to join the Council of Persons with Disabilities in Thailand and he has since become the organisation’s director.
20 Sep 2013 News briefs
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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