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International Community Must “Risk-Proof” Development

disaster relief

13 March 2015 - On Saturday 14 March world leaders and representatives of civil society gather in Sendai, Japan, for the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR). Margareta Wahlström, head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) has said that climate-related disasters now dominate disaster risk management.

“Despite many successes and greatly improved performance in disaster management, it is sobering to note that 700,000 people have died in disaster events over the last ten years. A total of 1.7 billion people have had their lives disrupted in some way. Economic losses in major reported disaster events come to $1.4 trillion.”

Ms. Wahlström said that climate-related disasters now account for over 80% of all disaster events.155 million people have suffered short or long-term displacement since 2008.

“It is very important that the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction should provide clear, action-oriented guidance to governments, local governments, the private sector and civil society in general on how best to tackle the underlying drivers of risk such as poverty, climate change, poorly planned urban growth, land use and the decline of protective eco-systems.”

A crucial conference

WCDRR 2015 is due to adopt a major revision of the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) which will guide disaster risk management efforts for the next ten to 15 years depending on the time frame adopted by the Conference. Coordinated by UNISDR, the conference is expected to attract around 8,000 participants with several thousand more participating in related public events.

The last World Conference on Disaster Reduction was held in Kobe, Hyogo, Japan, from 18 to 22 January 2005. It produced the following four documents:

"The international community must "risk proof" development because disasters are taking a heavy toll on rich and poor countries as well as outpacing their ability to respond."
-- Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

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