Practitioners guide on water-related disasters launched

United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction
Cover page of the latest Words into Action guide, launched in conjunction with UNECE
Cover page of the latest Words into Action guide, launched in conjunction with UNECE

12 October 2018, Astana – The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) have released an innovative guide for applying the principles of resilience to water-related disasters during the eighth session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Water Convention in Kazakhstan.

The guide, titled: Implementation Guide for Addressing Water-Related Disasters and Transboundary Cooperation: Integrating Disaster Risk Management with Water Management and Climate Change Adaptation, is part of the Words into Action series – a set of guidelines produced through UNISDR in conjunction with partners to demonstrate practical applications of the principles outlined in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

In the joint foreword to the publications, the heads of UNECE and UNISDR, Olga Algayerova and Mami Mizutori respectively, said: “While transboundary cooperation and sectoral cooperation may further complicate the implementation of disaster risk reduction measures, it also offers unique possibilities to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of plans and programmes by advancing synergies arising from cooperation and resulting in more robust risk reduction activities.”

Over the past twenty years, there has been a sustained rise and frequency in the number of climate-related disasters such as floods and droughts. A large part of disaster risk is directly or indirectly linked to water. It is estimated that the global average annual loss from disasters will increase from an annual average of US$ 260 billion in 2015 to US$ 414 billion by 2030. This puts at risk economic growth, poverty reduction, peace, and more generally, the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

This Words into Action guide aims to strengthen the capacity of Member States to implement the Sendai Framework and the Water Convention by offering a road map with concrete examples to help address water-related disasters, especially in situations where the transboundary context adds to the complexity of risk reduction. It specifically targets the water, disaster risk reduction and climate change communities and aims to bring them together so that they may jointly design effective and comprehensive disaster reduction measures.

A public review of the publication has already highlighted the need and appetite for such a text within practitioners’ circles.

Callist Tindimugaya, from the Ministry of Water and Environment in Uganda said: “The Words into Action Implementation Guide…is a very welcome development…[It] highlights the need for employing an integrated water resources management approach following a basin as a means of effectively addressing water related-disasters and adapting to impacts of climate change.

“Awareness about the importance of river basin management and transboundary cooperation in Disaster Risk Reduction is still very low in many parts of the world and I hope that this guide will fill this gap,” said Mr. Tindimugaya.

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