Reducing the risk of disasters such as flooding is key for sustainable development
MANAMA, 13 May 2015 - More than 300 Arab government representatives from the finance, economic, social, environment and technology sectors have developed a regional position for the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals due to be adopted at a UN summit this September.
Meeting in the Bahraini capital Manama last week, the Second Session of the Arab High-Level Forum on Sustainable Development (AFSD) underscored the fact that disaster risk reduction is part and parcel of sustainable development.
The main outcome of the forum, the Bahrain Document, stresses the importance of recognizing the increasing frequency of disasters caused by natural hazards, particularly drought, and urges the region to take measures to develop early warning systems, as well as to strengthen risk management and resilience to reduce existing risks and work towards achieving sustainable urban development.
The AFSD is the key forum to support Arab regional preparations for the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, which will be held in New York from 26 June to 8 July and is a key stepping stone towards the 25-27 September summit.
Sustainable development is an issue that is etched into the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, a 2015-2030 global roadmap which was adopted at the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Japan in March.
The new framework is the first major agreement on the post-2015 development agenda, coming ahead of the expected outcomes of a conference on Financing for Development in July, the Sustainable Development Goals summit in September, and December’s COP21 talks which will set the agenda on climate change.
The UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, Margareta Wahlström, who participated in Manama forum, underlined the importance of a coherent approach.
“Building resilience and managing disaster risk cut across various international frameworks and processes under discussion in post-2015 development agenda, including on SDGs, Financing for Development and Climate Change,” she said.
Ms. Wahlström called for “a shift from managing disasters to managing risks” and stressed that the new Sendai Framework is great opportunity for an integrated approach to prevent new risks, reduce the existing ones and strengthen social and economic resilience.
Disasters linked to natural hazards and climate change associated risks are on the rise both in terms frequency and losses. This trend is global and regional, with the Arab region's rapid urbanization, water scarcity and fast-growing population amplifying vulnerabilities and disaster risk and add stress to governmental policies on development and risk management.
The session was organized under the patronage of His Royal Highness Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia and the United Nations Environment Programme, in cooperation with the 21-member League of Arab States.