Ex­treme events re­vers­ing de­vel­op­ment goals

The Punch - - MY NEWS.COM -

Pa­tri­cia Scot­land, com­mon­wealth Sec­re­tary-gen­eral:

Cy­clones in the Caribbean and Pa­cific, dev­as­tat­ing bush­fires in Aus­tralia, re­cur­rent floods and droughts in Asia and Africa, in­creas­ingly bring tragic loss of life to our na­tions and com­mu­ni­ties, in­flict­ing phys­i­cal and men­tal trauma on sur­vivors, and caus­ing ir­repara­ble dam­age to cen­turies old ways of life and un­der­min­ing prospects for fu­ture pros­per­ity and growth.

The cur­rent bush­fires in Aus­tralia have been among the most dis­tress­ing man­i­fes­ta­tions, lead­ing the govern­ment to de­clare a state of emer­gency.

The to­tal cost to the econ­omy of the bush­fires with which Aus­tralia is grap­pling seems likely to run into bil­lions of dol­lars. Con­tin­u­ous dry­ing of un­der­growth cre­ates op­ti­mal con­di­tions for bush­fires, lead­ing to tragic loss of hu­man lives and de­struc­tion of in­fra­struc­ture. There is dev­as­tat­ing im­pact on the pre­cious bio­di­ver­sity of flora and fauna, threat­en­ing dras­ti­cally to af­fect the ecol­ogy of the re­gion. Height­ened lev­els of air pol­lu­tion in the af­fected and ad­join­ing re­gions are hav­ing ad­verse im­pacts on the respirator­y health of scores of peo­ple.

Such ex­treme events are oc­cur­ring with ris­ing fre­quency, de­stroy­ing the means of liveli­hood for mil­lions peo­ple in Com­mon­wealth coun­tries, in­creas­ing vul­ner­a­bil­ity and re­duc­ing re­silience. The Com­mon­wealth col­lec­tively recog­nises that with­out well-planned and in­te­grated na­tional and in­ter­na­tional ac­tion, nat­u­ral dis­as­ters and ex­treme events will con­tinue to chal­lenge the re­silience of af­fected com­mu­ni­ties and smaller coun­tries. The Com­mon­wealth Sec­re­tar­iat is work­ing along­side mem­ber na­tions to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­men­tal health of frag­ile and sus­cep­ti­ble ecosys­tems, in­clud­ing through in­creased na­tional pre­pared­ness for tack­ling nat­u­ral dis­as­ters and mo­bil­is­ing re­sources.

For the arid and drought-prone mem­ber coun­tries, which are highly vul­ner­a­ble to dry­ness and bush­fires, the Com­mon­wealth pro­vides sup­port for gov­ern­ments to de­velop projects on sus­tain­able and re­silient land­scape man­age­ment, with the Com­mon­wealth Cli­mate Fi­nance Ac­cess Hub (CCFAH) help­ing to un­lock nec­es­sary fi­nan­cial re­sources. Sim­i­larly, by pool­ing in­for­ma­tion into a stream­lined plat­form for bet­ter and more con­ve­nient ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion, the Com­mon­wealth Dis­as­ter Risk Fi­nance Por­tal cur­rently in de­vel­op­ment will help coun­tries find suit­able sources of fi­nance and sup­port to deal with dis­as­ters.

On be­half of ci­ti­zens of all Com­mon­wealth coun­tries, I ex­press my heart­felt con­do­lences to all fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties who have lost loved ones in the tragic events of re­cent days. I com­mend the courage and com­mit­ment of fire­fight­ers, emer­gency ser­vice per­son­nel and all oth­ers who are bat­tling to res­cue and pro­tect peo­ple and prop­erty, wildlife and nat­u­ral re­sources, or hu­man in­fra­struc­ture. In these test­ing times, the wider Com­mon­wealth fam­ily stands in sol­i­dar­ity along­side the Govern­ment and peo­ple of Aus­tralia.

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