BET­TER RISK MAN­AGE­MENT CAN RE­DUCE DIS­AS­TER DIS­PLACE­MENT

The UB Post - - Front Page - By Mami Mizu­tori*

No other re­gion in the world il­lus­trates the now chronic na­ture of dis­place­ment caused by ex­treme weather events and cli­mate change more than Asia and the Pa­cific. Last year, 18.8 mil­lion peo­ple were forced to run for their lives from floods, storms and earthquakes in 135 coun­tries across the globe. Once again, it was the most dis­as­ter-prone re­gion in the world which bore the brunt of this hu­man ex­o­dus, 11.4 mil­lion peo­ple from across east and south Asia and the Pa­cific is­lands.

This year has not started well for the re­gion with re­ports al­ready that a mil­lion peo­ple have been dis­placed by heavy mon­soon rains, floods and land­slides in In­dia and Bangladesh where the cy­clone sea­son also threat­ens.

De­spite suc­cesses in re­duc­ing loss of life in re­cent years thanks to early warn­ing sys­tems and im­proved pre­pared­ness, Asia still ac­counted for al­most 50% of the world­wide loss of life from disas­ters last year.

Eco­nomic losses were in the re­gion of US$ 34 bil­lion, a loss which many de­vel­op­ing coun­tries can ill af­ford if they are to suc­ceed in erad­i­cat­ing poverty.

This forms the back­drop to the dis­cus­sions which will take place in the Mon­go­lian cap­i­tal, Ulan Baatar, at the Asian Min­is­te­rial Con­fer­ence on Dis­as­ter Risk Re­duc­tion, July 3-6, which has been con­ven­ing ev­ery two years since 2005.

The fo­cus of the dis­cus­sions will be on the clearneed for ac­cel­er­ated implementation of the Sendai Frame­work for Dis­as­ter Risk Re­duc­tion 2015-2030, the global plan to re­duce dis­as­ter losses which was adopted in Ja­pan three years ago.

It sets out seven tar­gets for re­duc­tions in loss of life, num­bers of peo­ple affected, eco­nomic losses and dam­age to in­fra­struc­ture through en­hanced in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion, bet­ter risk information and early warn­ing sys­tems.

That plan also sets a dead­line of 2020 for a sub­stan­tial in­crease in the num­ber of coun­tries with na­tional and lo­cal strate­gies for dis­as­ter risk re­duc­tion.

These strate­gies are a golden op­por­tu­nity to get many things right which will help not only to re­duce the scale of un­nec­es­sary losses but help achieve key sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment goals such as the erad­i­ca­tion of poverty, the cre­ation of re­silient cities and ac­tion on cli­mate change.

Two years ago In­dia hosted the Con­fer­ence and Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi urged par­tic­i­pants to "em­brace the spirit of Sendai."

Both In­dia and Mon­go­lia have adopted na­tional strate­gies aligned with the Sendai Frame­work's pri­or­i­ties and both are also in­vest­ing in de­vel­op­ing and main­tain­ing na­tional dis­as­ter loss data­bases which are essen­tial to guide risk-in­formed in­vest­ment at the lo­cal level in crit­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture such as hous­ing, schools, hos­pi­tals, pub­lic util­i­ties and trans­port links.

Their ex­am­ple can be em­u­lated by many other coun­tries across the re­gion be­cause it is at the lo­cal level that the work of preven­tion and risk re­duc­tion starts to pay a re­silience div­i­dend.

It is also at the lo­cal level that most progress can be made on en­sur­ing an inclusive ap­proach to dis­as­ter risk man­age­ment, one which in­cludes the in­sights and ex­pe­ri­ences of those who may be marginalised and dis­pro­por­tion­ately affected by dis­as­ter events. Women, girls, youth, older per­sons, per­sons liv­ing with dis­abil­i­ties and indige­nous peo­ple should be ac­tively re­cruited as agents of change in their com­mu­ni­ties. Mon­i­tor­ing of the Sendai Frame­work tar­gets got un­der­way in March and this Con­fer­ence is an ex­cit­ing op­por­tu­nity to as­sess how well-pre­pared Asia is to de­liver on the com­mit­ments it has made to move from man­ag­ing disas­ters to man­ag­ing the risks which drive those disas­ters.

Those risks in­clude the rapid scale of ur­ban­i­sa­tion across the re­gion which is an op­por­tu­nity to do de­vel­op­ment in a risk-in­formed, re­silient way which avoids cre­at­ing fu­ture disas­ters.

More than any­thing it is the hu­man cost of disas­ters that is the most com­pelling ar­gu­ment for ac­tion. Real progress will bring down the num­bers of fam­i­lies and peo­ple in­ter­nally dis­placed by disas­ters.

*Mami Mizu­tori is the Spe­cial Rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the UN Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral for Dis­as­ter Risk Re­duc­tion and head of the UN Of­fice for Dis­as­ter Risk Re­duc­tion

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