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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

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Deputy Secretary-General's Opening remarks at press conference on launch of the Report ‘Global Estimates 2014: people displaced by disasters’

New York, 17 September 2014

I am very glad to meet with my friend Jan Egeland who was also one of my successors as Emergency Relief Coordinator, some years ago.

I have a great story; when I left the job as Emergency Relief Coordinator, there was a reception and I was thanked profusely. I was slightly embarrassed by the generous introduction until the last line when the lady said: “let me introduce to the floor of the podium Mr. Eliasson, Emergency Relief Coordinator - the man responsible for all disasters in the world!”

[To Mr. Egeland] You were really great out there in the field doing a good job for the UN. We are glad you are now the Secretary-General of the Norwegian Refugee Council.

This is a very important report from the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) and it helps us understand some of the most pressing global challenges, that is: how we better prevent, how we prepare for and, finally, find solutions to the displacement of millions of people caused by natural disasters each year. Jan will tell you the rather scary, worrying statistics about the growth in these numbers. 

In 2009, IDMC produced it’s first report together with OCHA with global estimates of the scale and nature of displacement by disasters, such as floods, storms and earthquakes. Over the last years, the data and analysis in these reports have helped us monitor how we are protecting and supporting people displaced by disasters. 

This year’s report is extremely timely.  As we prepare for the SG’s Climate Summit next week the devastating impact of disasters and the massive displacement we see as a result, highlight the need for strong and decisive action to tackle the catastrophic threat of Climate Change.

According to the report, the risk of displacement due to disasters has more than doubled over the last four decades. The report shows a long-term trend of increasing displacement driven by population pressures and vulnerability to natural hazards.

In 2013, IDMC estimates that 22 million people were displaced in 119 countries as a result of natural disasters. That is almost three times as many people who were internally displaced by conflict and violence in the same period.

In today’s world of increasing and intensifying disasters, early warning systems and emergency evacuations will become ever more important as we have seen around the world recently.

We also need to be more prepared for displacement caused by Climate Change as I said.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has asked world leaders next week to bring bold announcements and actions to the Climate Summit September 23.

Let us ensure that we include mechanisms for early warning and that we devise responses for those who have been displaced by disasters and Climate Change.

The numbers of people who need humanitarian assistance, and the cost of helping them, are skyrocketing. We need to shift our focus to prevention and preparedness in close cooperation with national partners.

The timing is right for this change of approach. The world is gearing up to create a new post-2015 global development  framework where poverty reduction and sustainable development are to be closely integrated. The coming negotiations present an opportunity to ensure that the needs of IDPs are taken into account.

Lastly, in March next year we will also have the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR), to be hosted in by Japan in the city of Sendai.  This Conference will be a major opportunity to formulate our global action plan for responding to, and preventing disasters. We really need to work much harder in disaster risk reduction.

Finally, we also have the opportunity of the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016 in Turkey where the prevention of, and response to, disaster-induced displacement should be at the heart of considerations.

Thank you very much. I now leave the floor to Jan Egeland to brief on the report.

Press Conferences on 17 September 2014