SRSG Mizutori's remarks at Asia-Pacific Regional Review Meeting on the Implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action in Preparation for the Fifth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries

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United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction
Mami Mizutori

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Statement by Ms. Mami Mizutori

Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction

Asia-Pacific Regional Review Meeting on the Implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action in Preparation for the Fifth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (UNLDC-5) 

Session 2: Supporting our climate, recovery from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and building a resilient society against future shocks

CR Tempus 1, United Nations, Geneva

9:00am - 11:00am, 31 August 2021

Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Colleagues.

It is a pleasure to be with you this morning. I thank the Government of Bangladesh as well as OHRLLS and ESCAP for inviting me  to this important session.

In the midst of a global pandemic and an escalating climate crisis, it is clear that reaching the Sustainable Development Goals is contingent on achieving the goal of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction which is to prevent the creation of new disaster risks and and reduce existing ones.

Nowhere is this more obvious than for the Least Developed Countries.

Extreme weather events and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are undermining the economic and social development of LDCs than never before. This is clearly stated in ESCAP’s Asia-Pacific Disaster Report 2021 released last week. Data submitted by LDCs to the Sendai Framework Monitor against the seven global targets of the Sendai Framework confirms their disproportionate high economic and human losses from disasters.

We are six years on from  the adoption of the Sendai Framework, which calls for special attention to be given to the LDCs, and the Istanbul Programme of Action includs disaster risk reduction as a priority area for action. Progress has been made but considerable gaps remain for risk-informed development decisions to be adopted. Despite their commitment to disaster risk reduction, LDCs continue to be left behind due to the impacts of disasters. 

It is therefore high time for a programme of action for the LDCs with disaster risk reduction at its core. The LDC-5 Conference is the last chance to do this before 2030.

It is encouraging to see disaster risk reduction featured prominently in the draft Doha Programme of Action. To achieve the objective of ensuring all LDCs graduate from the category, it is critical to integrate a risk-informed approach to economic and social development throughout the new programme of action.

This will also protect the gains LDCs have made thus far and ensure economies and societies are more resilient to the next shock, be it a pandemic, global economic downturn, or a climate catastrophe.

The COVID-19 pandemic must be a watershed moment for disaster risk reduction. Recent General Assembly resolutions calls upon Member States to design recovery strategies that are risk-informed and build resilience. The Secretary-General also calls on countries to apply the Sendai Framework to support sustainable and resilient recovery from the pandemic.

UNDRR and our UN partners are supporting governments to this end. We are also working with countries, including several LDCs, to collect disaster loss data, conduct multi-hazard risk assessments and to update national disaster risk reduction strategies to include pandemics as part of a comprehensive, multi-hazard approach to disaster risk reduction.

For example, UNDRR provided technical support for the development of a national DRR strategy in Lao PDR. We support Bangladesh to enhance the collection and analysis of multi-hazard risk information and to apply this in development planning. In the Pacific, we support LDCs to revise and update national disaster risk management and climate change acts and to develop local capacities for DRR.

I am happy to report that almost all LDCs in Asia and the Pacific have national DRR strategies in place, and that the remainder are working to develop or finalize them. .

This is indeed welcome news as these strategies represent a key step towards building resilience in LDCs situated in the world’s most  disaster prone region.

That said, the development of a strategy on its own is not enough. They need to be implemented so that decisions in all sectors are risk-informed, and for this, LDCs require much more investment and support.

This should include the development of dedicated, innovative financing instruments for prevention and risk reduction, such as resilience or prevention bonds, blended financing partnerships, adaptive shock-responsive social protection mechanisms, and pooled funds. As the climate crisis intensifies, risk transfer, insurance, and financing of preparedness is not be enough to protect development investments from the impacts of disasters. The Doha Programme of action must be a clarion call for bilateral donors, IFIs and global and regional development banks to align their support to the LDCs with the implementation of the Sendai Framework.

International cooperation to developing countries for the implementation of the Sendai Framework will be the focus of this year’s International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction on 13 October.

As many LDCs in Asia and the Pacific are in the process of graduating from the category, this process is an opportunity to ensure domestic economic and development policy, and international support, prevents and reduces disaster risk. This is essential to ensure graduation is sustainable.

It is extremely concerning that LDCs are graduating with high levels of disaster risk embedded within their economies and societies. This is a systemic weakness in the graduation process that can quickly erode hard won development gains.

The Doha Programme of Action offers an opportunity to  integrate disaster risk reduction into the graduation process and the comprehensive package of international support measures. This is supported by the mandate in the recent ECOSOC resolution to integrate disaster risk reduction into the smooth transition strategies of graduating countries.

With the combination of a global pandemic and a climate crisis, we now realize how inseparable disaster risk reduction is from sustainable development.

The Doha Programme of Action is an opportunity for LDCs and their development partners to embark on a development trajectory that is truly risk-informed and sustainable. Thank you for your attention.

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