Fifth Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction - Opening address by Margareta Wahlstrom

Fifth Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk reduction, Indonesia - Opening Address by Margareta Wahlström, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction (check against delivery)


I hope that the findings of this new report will serve as a useful source of information on disaster trends in the region and inform the discussions now taking place on the post-2015 development and risk reduction agendas, as we consider the development of both new sustainable development goals and a new international framework for disaster risk reduction.

I am pleased to present the Asian Pacific Disaster Report 2012 to the Governor of Yogyakarta and the representative of the Indonesian National Agency for Disaster Management (BNPB) and share it with all governments here present.

The report provides clear evidence of how economic development is exposing ever-growing numbers of people and assets to disasters and an urgent reminder of the importance of building resilience to disasters to avoid unnecessary loss of life, jobs, housing and all public infrastructures, which is essential to community life.


Your Excellency Mr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President of Indonesia, Excellencies, distinguished delegates and participants,

I am honoured to open the Fifth Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction and it is particularly pleasing to note the presence of so many government ministers among the record attendance from 44 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Your presence here today is a confirmation that disaster risk reduction and building resilience is high in your political agenda and I am very encouraged by your commitment.

Let me thank the Indonesian Government for co-hosting this conference. It is particularly relevant to host it in the city of Yogyakarta that has been affected by major earthquake in 2006 and a big volcanic eruption in 2010.

Over the last two years, Asia as a region has been hit by two major disasters in Japan and Thailand. These two disasters have represented nearly 80 per cent of the $294 billion economic losses in Asia during that period. Asia is also being increasingly affected by many small scale disasters as stated in the new Asian Pacific Disaster Report 2012 that we have just launched. These small scale events are just as damaging as the big ones in terms of damage to housing and infrastructures.

From 1970 to 2010, the population in Asia and the Pacific has almost doubled from 2.2 to 4.2 billion. In the same period, the average number of people exposed to yearly flooding has more than doubled from 29.5 to 63.8 million and the number of people living in cyclone-prone areas has also gone up from 72 million to more than 120 million people.

Disaster losses since 1980 have increased by 16 times in Asia while the GDP per capita has grown only by 13 times. The new report that we just launched here today provides further evidence that the rate at which wealth is being lost is faster than the rate at which it is being generated. Never before has the need for collaborative action to reduce risk, vulnerability and exposure of populations and assets been more obvious and urgent.

Much of the momentum and inspiration for the world's first universally accepted agreement on disaster risk reduction, the Hyogo Framework for Action -- Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters (HFA), came out of Asia. It was debated, agreed and signed here against the tragic backdrop of the Asian tsunami. The HFA was created to offer to countries a set of actions to take in order to strengthen its risk governance capacities and substantially reduce mortality and economic losses from disasters. Since 2005, many countries in the region have made important progress against the HFA principles and I would like to take this occasion to underline some key aspects of governance, the driver that conditions all the other underlying drivers and therefore the single most important priority for reducing disaster risk.

Today, 133 countries worldwide are using the HFA to measure their progress and 27 countries here in Asia have reported major progresses in disaster preparedness, in strengthening their institutions and legislation on disaster risk reduction, and in establishing early warning systems. Developing policy and legislation is only the first step. Translating the policies into the right investment decisions is what really counts. And implementing those decisions in a way that is inclusive, accountable and transparent is where progress is badly needed.

Globally, there are 81 National Platforms for Disaster Risk Reduction, including 7 here in Asia Pacific. They have been established to mobilize all segments of society to participate in disaster risk management. Regional Platforms are functioning in all continents and Asia has three.

Progress in reducing disaster risk at the local level is lagging behind due to lack of appropriate instruments and resources. This fifth edition of the Asian Ministerial Conference is dedicated to strengthening local capacities for disaster risk reduction. Decentralization of roles and responsibilities for disaster risk reduction is key and should be accompanied by budget allocation and capacity building, so that local authorities working with communities have the necessary resources and are equipped to use them effectively.

The remaining two years of HFA implementation provides us with a great opportunity to review what we have done well, what needs to be improved and to determine the direction and the desired outcomes of the next disaster risk reduction framework. In fact, we have now started to work on shaping an international disaster risk management framework for 2015 and beyond, and this conference is an important opportunity to make a significant contribution to this process. This gathering is also a landmark event as we prepare for the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in May 2013 in Geneva and the next World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in 2015 in Japan. Now is the right time to think about and discuss what we would like the post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction to look like and I look forward to hear your views on this.

I wish you a successful conference and look forward to a promising final declaration that will inspire and guide us to take the right actions for making our nations and communities safer against disasters.
VI Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas, Cartagena, Colombia 20-22 June 2018 VI Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas, Cartagena, Colombia 20-22 June 2018.
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