Europe’s vulnerability to natural disasters quickly rising – UN agency

Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction Margareta Wahlström

11 October 2011 – The number of natural hazards taking place in Europe increased significantly last year, the United Nations disaster risk reduction agency says, warning that the region’s governments need to implement prevention platforms to significantly reduce the danger they pose to their populations.

“In 2010, Europe saw the biggest increase in disaster events – plus 18.2 per cent – compared to the decade’s averages,” chief of the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) Margareta Wahlström told participants at a forum yesterday in Skopje, the capital of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

“In terms of economic damages, it accounted for 14.3 per cent of reported global disaster losses in 2010, with most of the damages caused by climatological and hydro meteorological events.”

Ms. Wahlström said that although this is cause for concern, there is evidence that European governments are slowly implementing adequate disaster risk reduction measures, and they will have a much greater chance of succeeding at minimizing the costs of natural hazards.

“National reports demonstrate a gradual evolution from a mindset of crisis and response to one of proactive risk reduction and safety. Countries who have or are going to establish national platforms (NPs) for disaster reduction are reporting significant and ongoing success in addressing cross cutting risk reduction issues – more than double compared to those countries without NPs.”

Ms. Wahlström also highlighted Europe’s participation in the 2010-2011 World Disaster Reduction Campaign – Making Cities Resilient: “Europe is the most active region in embracing the campaign: 378 European cities have joined the campaign to improve their resilience and to exchange their experiences and challenges.

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