Appointed by UNISDR, our champions advocate for building resilient communities and reducing disaster risk.
Champions are key political figures who are active and committed to disaster risk reduction.
UNISDR recognizes individuals as Disaster Risk Reduction Champions for using their political influence to lobby for disaster risk reduction in their country, region and beyond. Their motivation often goes beyond professional interest, spurred by a passion for public service and an abiding commitment to build community resilience. This is a non-remunerated honorary position.
Only the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction may appoint a Disaster Risk Reduction Champion, by issuing a letter of designation. The following individuals are our active Disaster Risk Reduction Champions.
Global Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction
The title of Global Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction recognizes individuals who provide leadership to build the resilience of nations and communities from disasters. A Global Champion has three main roles:
Encouraging the highest political leadership in countries to increase investment in disaster risk reduction
Promoting disaster risk reduction to a wider set of decision makers to influence opinion and action for sustainable development
Czech model and entrepreneur Petra Nemcova is the official UNISDR World Tsunami Awareness Advocate. She was officially recognized by Robert Glasser, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction in a ceremony held at the Japan Society in New York in November 2017.
Petra Nemcova not only survived the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami in Thailand under terrible circumstances but also found a way to continue living, sharing her experience and putting her entrepreneurial spirit at the service of people affected by disasters.
Today, Petra Nemcova is the head of All Hands and Hearts - Smart Response which has financed 232 safe and disaster resilient schools in disaster-affected communities in more than 12 countries such as Peru, Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Haiti, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines and Nepal to the benefit of over 100,000 children.
All Hands and Hearts works with 53,000 volunteers from 116 countries and aims at addressing the immediate and long-term needs of communities impacted by natural disasters.
To learn more about her work visit: www.allhandsandhearts.org
Senator Loren Legarda, who comes from a country often affected by typhoons, floods, landslides and volcanic eruptions, was recognized at the December 2015 Paris UN Climate Conference, COP21, as a Global Champion for Resilience. Since her appointment as the Asia-Pacific Regional Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction during the Third Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in 2008, she has been a high-profile advocate of disaster risk reduction policies. She has been at the forefront of policy advocacy and leadership in the Philippines and has authored various laws on protecting the environment and reducing climate and disaster risk, including the Climate Change Act of 2009 which created the Philippines' Climate Change Commission. Another result of her tireless advocacy work on sustainable development, climate change and disaster has been the country's Paris Agreement ratification process.
Ms. Tarja Halonen, UN Global Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction, is a Finnish politician and former President of Finland with a notably long career in Finnish politics and the non-governmental sector. President Halonen was the 11th President of the Republic of Finland 2000-2012 and Finland's first female head of state. Throughout her a career, she has been an important partner on disaster risk reduction in her work with the UN and beyond on human rights, democracy, civil society and gender equality. President Halonen has played a significant role, particularly at the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan in 2015, at the 2011 Global Platform for DRR and as co-chair of the UN Secretary-General's High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability. President Halonen has championed the importance of inclusive societies to be truly disaster resilient and the importance of women in disaster risk reduction. She is a member of the UN Secretary-General's High-Level Advisory Board on Mediation.
As part of his role of Global Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono accepted to undertake the following actions when he was in office from 2004 to 2014, and has continued to use advocate for them since then:
Host meetings at regular ASEAN Summits to lead action and progress on disaster risk reduction of South East Asian Nations
Prioritize the safety of schools, hospitals and other critical infrastructure in ASEAN member countries
Convene a high level discussion on the post-Hyogo Framework of Action instrument
Include messages pertaining to disaster risk reduction at UN General Assembly debates and other international gatherings
Call for more enhanced local action including incorporation of disaster resilient initiatives in urban development planning and the integration of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation
Be part of advocacy and communication materials to promote disaster risk reduction
In addition to the Global Champions, UNISDR also advocates for disaster risk reduction through regional champions and its Making Cities Resilient campaign.
India's Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju
Minister Rijiju was named a champion in November 2015, in honour of his relentless commitment to the cause. He is known for a series of policy decisions to strengthen disaster risk governance and partnerships in education, disaster preparedness and response in India. Minister Rijiju has vowed to work towards converging individual efforts of UN Member States into a larger inclusive and collaborative mechanism for recovery, rehabilitation and rebuilding of affected communities and assets.
Chief Executive Officer for the World Bank Kristalina Georgieva
Ms. Georgieva, who took up her position at the World Bank in January 2017, was formerly the European Commission's Vice President for Budget and Human Resources and previously held it International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response portfolio. She has been an important partner in disaster risk reduction to the UN family, and UNISDR, for many years. She has contributed significantly to enhancing the prioritization of climate and disaster resilience actions in the European public investment agenda, and is directly responsible for many of the joint achievements of the United Nations and European Commission in disaster risk reduction.
Mr. Gabrielli, Head of the Italian Police, is the former head of the country's Civil Protection Department. He was named a Disaster Risk Reduction Champion in recognition of his tireless efforts to deal with the threats posed by hazards such as the devastating Abruzzo earthquake of 2009.
Former Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly Abdirahin Haithar Haji Abdi
As a member of the UNISDR Advisory Group for Parliamentarians, Mr. Abdi delivered a speech on behalf of Margareta Wahlström, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction at the 2nd session of the African Ministerial Conference on Meteorology (AMCOMET) in Zimbabwe.
Mr. Sané was first appointed as UNISDR's Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Champion for West Africa in 2010. As a champion, Mr. Sané advocate for the integration of disaster risk reduction in national budgets, as well as promoting the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction in Africa.
Ms. Saumura is currently a Member of Parliament for the Sam Rainsey Party, representing Phnom Penh and has been Vice-President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union Standing Committee on Sustainable Development, Finance and Trade since 2007.
Ugandan Member of Parliament Alex Byarugaba Bakunda
Mr. Byarugaba is a member of the Ugandan parliament, representing the Isingiro District. He also serves as Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament, Member of the Public Accounts Committee and Member of the Forum on Climate Change Uganda. He created a DRR Forum which lobbies for implementation of the National Policy for Disaster Preparedness and Management and the development of a legal framework for DRR.
President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union Saber Chowdhury
Mr. Chowdhury, of Bangladesh, took office as President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in October 2014. Previously, he headed the IPU Standing Committee on Peace and International Security. He also chaired the Bangladesh's All Party Parliamentary Group on Climate Change and Environment, was a member of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Union’s Task Force on Climate Change, and a founder of UNISDR's Parliamentarian Advisory Group for Disaster Risk Reduction.
Since 2010, UNISDR has been recognizing as "Making Cities Resilient" Champions individual who use their political influence to lobby for disaster risk reduction in cities throughout their country or region.