Participants at UN disaster risk meeting pledge to improve preparedness

Loss of life can be minimized with investment in disaster prevention measures (file photo)

13 May 2011 – Government representatives at a major United Nations conference on disaster risk reduction today pledged to put disaster preparedness at the forefront of their plans to protect communities, noting that economic losses associated with natural catastrophes have outpaced wealth creation in some regions.

“Participants at the Third Global Platform have recognized the urgency that we face, and realized clearly that the world needed to act quickly and in concrete ways to make the world safer,” said Margareta Wahlström, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction.

“This helped produce a strong outcome, which I hope will stop the world from behaving recklessly and instead ensure that our development will prevent losses and protect gains and people,” said Ms. Wahlström at the conclusion of the Third Session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Geneva.

The Global Platform coincided with world’s first-ever World Reconstruction Conference, convened by the World Bank, the UN, and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR).

“We are very encouraged that international agencies and disaster prone countries represented by this conference agreed on critical next steps needed to improve support to countries overwhelmed by the scale or cost of reconstruction after disasters,” said Zoubida Allaoua, the Director of the Finance, Economics, and Urban Development Department at the World Bank.

“This begins with an agreement to develop a global framework for international cooperation in reconstruction financing and technical assistance, and a commitment to develop and improve the channels through which this financing flows,” she said.

“On this, GFDRR and the World Bank commit to take this forward as a global leader in the field and as a committed partner of countries weighed down by the growing threat of disasters.”

At the Platform, participants agreed to increase investment in disaster risk reduction at the local level, and complement the responsibility and accountability of local authorities with commensurate allocation of resources.

In a related development, the Munich Re Foundation, the Global Risk Forum GRF Davos and UN Secretariat for the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) joined forces to offer €100,000 to a risk reduction project that will contribute to increasing people’s resilience to disasters, especially in developing communities which are most at risk.

The award partners said they were concerned by the accumulation of risks resulting from increased exposure of people and assets to hazards, rapid urbanization, environmental degradation and climate change. Priority will be on projects focusing on improving infrastructure and technical systems at the grassroots level that are at immediate risks when disasters strike.


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