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Safe schools key to sustainable development

A new programme on school safety launched yesterday in the Philippines less than two weeks after the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan urges pupils, teachers and communities to proactively assess the resilience and preparedness of their schools. The unveiling of the "How Safe Is Your School?” initiative in the Philippines is the first step of what the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) intends will be formalized as a global initiative at the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, in Japan, in March 2015.
21 Nov 2013 News briefs

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

Tsunami city ‘starts from zero’

The Mayor of a Japanese city devastated by the March 2011 tsunami aims to make his municipality a global leader of inclusive redevelopment. Mr Futoshi Toba, the Mayor of Rikuzenkata City in Iwate prefecture, said: “We can start from zero and make sure that every citizen is integrated in the planning and reconstruction process, in particular those persons with disabilities and the elderly people who were the most exposed by the 11 March disaster.” The Mayor was speaking during the visit of Ms Margareta Wahlström, the Head of the UN office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR). “Rikuzentakata has the opportunity to become a model city for the world,” the Mayor said. “Our city will have a lot to showcase on inclusive reconstruction processes that can help other cities in the world to be better prepared against disasters. We hope to share this experience to the world.”
5 Nov 2013 News briefs

Disaster-proof development

OVER the last three decades, economic losses associated with natural disasters like floods, storm surges, hurricanes, and droughts have risen in lockstep with the steady climb in global temperatures. Data from a growing number of governments suggest that, so far this century, such losses have amounted to around $2.5 trillion. And, as the latest report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns, the worst is yet to come. This escalation will, of course, be driven largely by the increasingly frequent and intense weather events associated with higher global temperatures. But inadequate preparation will exacerbate the problem considerably.
4 Nov 2013 Statements & speeches

Odisha braces itself for floods

The State Government of Odisha in India is now bracing itself for the possibility of additional flooding as the remains of Cyclone Phailin move inland filling rivers and reservoirs to the brim. A State Government MP, Baijayant Panda, told UNISDR today that the flood situation is unpredictable and that early estimates are that 500,000 hectares of farmland have been inundated by the tidal surge and the heavy rains. “It is still too early to say the full extent of the damage to crop lands but it is significant. We may need help from central government with food stocks,” he said.
14 Oct 2013 News briefs

Disasters lead to new Europe housing strategy

A meeting of ministers and heads of agencies for housing, urban development and land administration from 55 countries in Geneva this week adopted a new Strategy for Sustainable Housing which will boost implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action, the current global agreement for reducing disaster risk, across wider Europe. The Ministerial Meeting on Housing and Land Management for the region covered by the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) recognized that “Natural as well as human-generated disasters, including those created by a changing climate, have resulted in large-scale damage to housing across the ECE region and present serious challenges for governments.” The Strategy calls for “common efforts by member States to develop frameworks for climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction. This includes emergency preparedness, contingency planning and risk-prevention measures through building safer houses in safer places and locating hazardous industry and other activities at safe distances from housing.”
11 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

OECD survey finds Hyogo Framework boosted donor funding for disaster risk reduction

19 September 2013, GENEVA – The head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, Margareta Wahlström, today welcomed the results of a new OECD survey of eleven donors which finds that “all respondents reported that their DRR funding has either slightly, or significantly, increased since the launch of the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) in 2005.” The Hyogo Framework for Action was adopted by all UN member States following the Indian Ocean tsunami as an action plan for reducing mortality and economic losses from disasters. It expires in 2015 when it will be replaced by a new global framework to be agreed at the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in March, 2015, in Japan.
19 Sep 2013 Press release

‘The fact we learn so slowly means we pay for it in dollars’

“Neither disasters nor climate change is an issue for the future it’s an issue for today. The fact that we learn so slowly means we are paying for it – and we are paying in dollars” – the Head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) Ms Margareta Wahlström challenges the world to strengthen its approach to disaster risk management and reverse the escalation in direct economic losses from disasters. Ms Wahlström was interviewed for this TVNZ news report while at the 2013 Joint Meeting of the Pacific Platform for Disaster Risk Management and Pacific Climate Change Roundtable in Fiji, this month.
22 Jul 2013 News briefs

'This bridge has been destroyed six times so now we build it higher and stronger'

The leader of Fiji’s disaster-hit Western Division has pledged to forge an integrated cross-sectoral strategy to achieve a safer and more resilient future. Western Division Commissioner Mr Joeli Cawaki and his team of technical experts told the head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), Ms Margareta Wahlström, that integrated planning and action was vital after being hit by two serious floods and a major cyclone in 2012.
19 Jul 2013 News briefs

UNISDR chief urges next generation of leaders to help make their world safer

The head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), Ms Margareta Wahlström, signalled the importance of the next generation taking up the challenge of building a safer and more resilient future. Ms Wahlström urged a group of youth ambassadors from the Republic of Korea, China and Japan to take leadership roles in advocating for disaster and climate resilient development.
18 Jul 2013 News briefs

UNISDR chief: integrated action will help billions and save trillions

The Head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), Margareta Wahlström, today hailed the Pacific as it committed to a world first of integrating action in disaster risk management and climate change in one strategy to secure a sustainable future for this increasingly threatened region.
8 Jul 2013 Press release

UNISDR chief honours Canberra as a role model city

The Head of UN office for Disaster Risk Reduction, Margareta Wahlström today officially acknowledged Canberra as a Role Model city for UNISDR's Making Cities Resilient Campaign by presenting a certificate to the Australian Capital Territory Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Simon Corbell.
28 Jun 2013 News briefs

2013 floods a "turning point"

The Head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), Margareta Wahlström, today predicted that the year 2013 will be a turning point in how governments around the world view the threat of floods in a new age of extreme weather events.
25 Jun 2013 Press release

Climate change declared public enemy No. 1

The Head of UNISDR, Margareta Wahlström, today welcomed the emphasis placed on the links between poverty reduction and disaster risk reduction in the report of the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda which identifies climate change as the main obstacle in the way of ending extreme poverty.
6 Jun 2013 News briefs

Global Platform calls for immediate start on developing targets for risk reduction

The three-day 4th Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, attended by a record 3,500 people and representatives from 172 governments, ended today with a call for "the immediate start of work to develop targets and indicators to monitor the reduction of risk" in the Chair's Summary at the closing plenary.
23 May 2013 Press release

Bangladesh tragedy underlines how deficient building codes can fuel disasters

The Head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), Margareta Wahlström, today extended condolences to the families of those who have lost loved ones in the collapse of an eight-storey building in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and reiterated that Dhaka is also in a high risk earthquake zone.
25 Apr 2013 Press release

UN convenes major conference on economic losses from disasters

There are just four weeks to go before 3,000 people arrive in Geneva to attend the largest-ever event staged by the United Nations to discuss how to stem the rising tide of economic losses from disaster events around the world which now regularly surpass $100 billion each year.
23 Apr 2013 Press release

No sustainable development without sustainable water

Statement by Margareta Wahlström, the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction on World Water Day 2013
22 Mar 2013 Statements & speeches

Aqaba’s resilience protects investments

The host of this week's First Arab Regional Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, the busy Jordanian Red Sea port of Aqaba, has become the first city in the region to be recognized by UNISDR's Making Cities Resilient Campaign as a role model.
20 Mar 2013 News briefs

Petra joins UNISDR Cities Campaign

Petra is the first of the "seven wonders of the world" to join UNISDR's Making Cities Resilient Campaign, an event which was officially marked this week during a visit to Jordan by UNISDR Chief, Margareta Wahlström.
19 Mar 2013 News briefs

Jordan sticks with HFA despite refugee crisis

UNISDR Chief Margareta Wahlström met yesterday with senior government ministers of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan who briefed her on the challenge to disaster risk management in the resource-starved country as it seeks to meet the needs of an estimated 440,000 Syrian refugees.
18 Mar 2013 News briefs

UNISDR Chief returns to tsunami affected town

Almost two years after the devastating Great East Japan Earthquake, UNISDR Chief Margareta Wahlström, paid a return visit to one of the worst-affected towns, Minami-Sanriku, in Miyagi Prefecture, and met with the Mayor, Mr. Jin Sato.
11 Mar 2013 News briefs

UNISDR Chief meets children of Fukushima

UNISDR Chief Margareta Wahlström today announced that children from Japan who continue to live with the consequences of the Great East Japan Earthquake, will attend the Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction in May.
11 Mar 2013 News briefs

New HFA to ensure women involved in disaster risk management says UNISDR

The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, UNISDR, today marked International Women's Day with an announcement that women will play a central role in developing the next global framework on disaster risk reduction.
8 Mar 2013 Press release

Fukushima women re-build their lives

UNISDR Chief, Margareta Wahlström, met with active women leaders in Fukushima city last month on a visit to Fukushima Prefecture in the lead-up to the second memorial day of the Great East Japan Earthquake on Monday, March 11.
8 Mar 2013 News briefs

Nablus to be first Palestinian city to join UNISDR Campaign

The UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, Margareta Wahlström, today welcomed Nablus' commitment to become the first Palestinian city to join UNISDR's Making Cities Resilient Campaign.
28 Feb 2013 News briefs

Palestine establishes disaster loss database

The Government of Palestine supported by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) has taken steps to establish its first national disaster loss database. The initiative was launched in the presence of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction and UNISDR Chief, Margareta Wahlström, who began a visit to Palestine this week.
25 Feb 2013 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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