New York

25 September 2014

Secretary-General's message to High-Level Event on Reducing Risks from Water-Related Disasters

I am pleased to convey my greetings to all participants, and thank the Governments of Peru, Switzerland, Tajikistan and Thailand for hosting this valuable platform to discuss the challenge of water-related disasters.
More than 80 percent of the economic damage caused by disasters each year can be attributed to floods, hurricanes and typhoons, tsunamis, storm surges, sea level rise and drought.
Losses are projected to rise exponentially as climate change further intensifies these natural hazards and current patterns of development increase our exposure.
By transforming the way we develop, design and invest in our societies, we can reverse these trends.
We can minimize losses in flood-prone areas by prioritizing effective drainage.  Communities exposed to storms can save lives by investing in people-centred early warning systems.  Coastal cities can protect their future economic growth by accounting for sea-level rise.
We have much to build on.  This includes the Hyogo Framework for Action, as well as your collective efforts to ensure that disaster risk reduction is reflected in the post-2015 framework.
As we look ahead, I invite all Heads of State and Government to join the Third UN World Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan, next March.
Thank you once again for commitment.  Your active leadership on this crucial issue can save lives and safeguard economies around the world.