By Brigitte Leoni
BANGKOK, 4 October 2012
- The UN disaster risk reduction chief today urged Asian and European Parliamentarians to work towards a new framework for action on disaster risk reduction that will protect more people and their assets from disasters as the current framework will end in 2015. The Hyogo Framework for Action -- Building the Resilience of Communities and Nations to Disasters came into force in 2005 for a period of 10 years.
Margareta Wahlström, the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, began a four-day visit of the Lao People's Democratic Republic today and met with Mme Pany Yathotou, President of the National Assembly. She told 300 participants at the 7th Asia European Parliamentarian Partnership (ASEP) meeting in Vientiane that, "The role of parliamentarians is critical to help executives developing policies and legislation that are making communities safer from disasters.
"Parliamentarians have been a driving force for progress in many countries and they will continue to do so in the Lao people's Democratic Republic, in countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and globally," noted Wahlström.
The UN Disaster Risk Reduction Chief cautioned that developing policies was only the first step. "Translating these policies into right investment decisions and implementation that is inclusive, accountable and transparent is much harder and will need more cooperation and collaboration between national and local governments," said Wahlström.
Wahlström also met ministers responsible for disaster risk reduction in the Lao PDR - the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment and the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry. She invited them to work very closely and in a more coordinated manner to minimize disaster threats.
According to the World Bank, the Lao People's Democratic Republic is experiencing economic growth of more than eight per cent per annum and is among the fastest growing Asian economies.
"The Lao People's Democratic Republic has an ambitious development programme; to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 and to graduate from the list of the least developed countries by 2020. These are commendable objectives and the UN system supports them. The way Lao PDR manages development in the years ahead will determine its successes", said Wahlström.
On Friday, Wahlström meets with NGOs and other UN partners to further promote the integration of disaster risk reduction policies into climate change adaptation and sustainable development programmes. On her last day, she will visit Sebangfay in Khammouane province and two other villages where housing facilities have been built to reduce flood impacts.
Asia is one of the most disaster prone continents. The Lao People's Democratic Republic regularly suffers from floods and mudslides caused by typhoons. In 2009, Typhoon Ketsana caused more than USD 58 million of damage which was borne by small farmers.