We must learn to reduce risk – UN
… on Wednesday 11 May, delegates from all over the world approached the end of the third day of the Third Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, convened in Geneva from 8-13 May, in conjunction with the World Reconstruction Conference. * * * Indeed, a UN report published at the Global Platform highlights the increased intensity and frequency of disasters, which unites leaders in their common aim: protect vulnerable communities from disasters.
The Third Session of the Global Platform builds upon the growing political momentum embodied by the Thematic Debate on disaster risk reduction held in February at the United Nations General Assembly. Under this year’s theme: “Invest today for a safer tomorrow: Increase investment in local action,” the forum, a wide diversity of stakeholders, from national and local governments to civil society to private sector, discussed how international and national actions can ensure that communities at grassroots level can have a voice in reducing disaster risks.
Local Authorities play an essential role in making cities more resilient to disasters. The World Disaster Reduction Campaign, ‘Making Cities Resilient’, has been the backbone of the discussions throughout the week, with Mayors of Cities from all over the world sharing best practices and learning from each other. Although still under revision, the main outcomes of this session highlighted three main areas of consensus, which will lay the basis for future action.
Firstly, participants recognized the centrality of recovery efforts in the aftermath of catastrophic events. The result of discussions was strong commitment to explore a common vision that might cover areas such as cooperation among different actors, more efficient coordination efforts and stronger accountability measures. But in the end, whilst pursuing this approach, the capacity of national and local authorities to lead domestic recovery must be upheld.
Secondly, the economic benefits of judicious investments in disaster risk reduction were a key theme acknowledged throughout the conference. Countries around the world have incurred massive and costly damage in the first quarter of 2011 alone, including US$ 300 billion as a result of Great East Japan Earthquake; US $ 8.5 billion from the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand; and US$ 9.5 billion from the floods in Australia.
Lastly, participants agreed that actors across the world need to ‘step up their game’ when it comes to integrating climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction. The Chair Summary of the Second Session of the Global Platform in 2009 outlined the unequivocal link between climate change and the increase in disaster risks. Some national governments, such as Viet Nam, the Philippines, Colombia and South Africa, are already putting in place legal and institutional measures to merge disaster risk reduction and adaptation mechanisms. Those countries must be emulated.