SRSG remarks at UNESCO Global SIDS dialogue series - Towards the sustainable development for SIDS

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United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction

 

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Towards the sustainable development for SIDS: UNESCO Global SIDS dialogue series

Theme: Disaster Risk Reduction

22 October 2021

Statement by SRSG Mami Mizutori on the Pacific

His Excellency Prime Minister of the Cook Islands,

Executive Director of UNESCO

Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak at this important event in a very timely moment right before the opening of COP26 organised by our core partner in the UN system UNESCO. And thank you Ambassador Anderson for mentioning the WIN-DRR award for women in leadership for DRR organized by UNDRR and sponsored by the Australian Government.

Let us go back to six years from now, in the middle of the last World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, in Sendai Japan, there was a powerful reminder of the exposure of small island developing states to natural hazards.

Cyclone Pam that hit Vanuatsu was one of the worst disasters in the country’s history.

Many lives were saved by effective early warnings, but the economic losses and damage to critical infrastructure were such, that the country’s graduation from least developed status was delayed for another five years.

This episode is not unique to Vanuatu,  all SIDS face disproportionately high risks from extreme weather events.

Driven by many such experiences, SIDS in the Pacific were among the first to ratify the Paris Agreement.

The outcome next month of COP26 is a matter of survival for many resource-poor SIDS whose very existence is under threat from rising sea levels, volatile rainfall, and drought.

At the same time, the public health infrastructure is being stretched to the limit by the ongoing COVID19 pandemic which complicates operating procedures around evacuations at the time of disaster events, and the need to maintain social distancing in cyclone shelters.

It is now seven years since the International Conference on Small Island Developing States took place in Samoa and adopted the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action Pathway, known as the SAMOA Pathway.

The Pacific has become a role model on how to integrate disaster risk management, climate change adaptation and sustainable development goals.

The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, in the context of the mid-term review of the Sendai Framework, which has just started and will culminate in the year 2023, is now looking at how best to support SIDS to overcome the specific constraints they are facing in reducing their disaster losses.

This will include the development of a monitoring framework for the SAMOA Pathway with particular focus on reducing direct disaster economic loss, implementation of national and local DRR strategies, enhanced international cooperation and increased availability of multi-hazard early warning systems.

The recent report by the Secretary-General on the implementation of the SAMOA Pathway recommends the establishment of a high-level expert panel to finalize a Multidimensional Vulnerability Index for SIDS by 2022. UNDRR strongly supports this recommendation.

This is particularly important given the dire economic and debt situation confronting many SIDS as a result of the pandemic and its impact on their economies.

Potential uses of such an index include acting as a guiding framework for resource allocation, and to inform UN support and country graduation strategies as well as being an effective tool to inform approaches to debt restructuring.

In the meantime, I can assure SIDS of my wholehearted support from the UN system at COP26 next month.

It is vital for SIDS that developed countries fulfill their pledge to mobilize $100 billion annually for climate action in developing countries, and that much more financing is dedicated to climate adaptation.

As it stands, currently far too little of disaster-related ODA goes towards prevention and disaster risk reduction before disaster strikes, it is just some 50 cents out of every $100. Why? Because most governments see this DRR as a cost, but is an investment. And no other groups of countries than the SIDS know this.

Investing in reducing disaster and climate risk is vital for the sustainable development and the future resilience of the citizens of SIDS. We must all come together towards implementing the Sendai Framework so that this becomes a reality.

Thank you very much for your attention.

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