Saturday, June 21, 2014

Asia can show the way in building disaster resilience

Margarete Wahlstrom at the Thomson Reuters Foundation via UNISDR: Next week, 2,500 delegates from more than 39 countries in Asia and the Pacific are expected in Bangkok, Thailand, for the Sixth Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, to shape future efforts to build more resilient communities and nations.

The outcome of the meeting will have long-term significance for the world at large, as the recommendations will feed into a new global agreement on disaster risk reduction which will replace the current Hyogo Framework for Action, adopted in 2005 by all U.N. member States following the Indian Ocean tsunami.

When Asia speaks on disaster risk management, the rest of the world listens. The region suffers more than 80 percent of the world’s disaster events. Nine of the world’s 10 most significant disaster events last year by fatalities occurred in the Philippines, India, Pakistan, Japan and China. Some 14,500 lives were lost in tropical cyclones, floods, heat waves, cold waves and earthquakes.

...The learning from the last nine years of implementing the Hyogo Framework for Action across the region tells us that while much progress has been made when it comes to reducing the risk of fatalities in the event of a disaster, countries still struggle when it comes to tackling the causes of risk creation and economic losses.

Many countries are forced to spend far too much of their budgets on disaster response, meeting the emergency needs of affected people and, in the longer term,  repairing roads, schools, health facilities and critical infrastructure which should have been disaster-proof in the first place.

If a percentage of response and recovery money were invested wisely in urban planning and land use to reduce the population’s exposure to risk, then the long-term savings would be significant. For every $1 invested in disaster risk reduction, the long-term savings are at least $4 to $8 - more money that can be spent on education, health and job creation....

NASA image of Cyclone Phailin in the Bay of Bengal, October 11, 2013

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