Source(s): United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction

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Remarks by SRSG Mizutori

Intervention at the 146th Committee of the Regions (CoR) Plenary Session


13 October 2021

Dear President Tzitzikostas,

Dear Commissioner Lenarčič,

Ladies and Gentlemen Members of the European Committee of the Regions.

Thank you for welcoming me here today. I am honoured to address the 146th Plenary of the European Committee of the Regions, alongside European Commissioner Janez Lenarčič, on such an important topic.

Europe has seen a number of dramatic events across its territory, many of which exacerbated by the impacts of climate change. Climate extreme events such as flooding and wild fires have caused great trauma across different regions of Europe, as seen with the dramatic forest fires in Greece and the Mediterranean basin, floods affecting Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg this summer and only recently in parts of France, to name but a few. Other natural disasters such as the volcanic eruption severely affecting the Canary Islands demonstrate the very complex risk landscape across the European region and the extent to which solidarity and cooperation in these difficult times is critical.

The compound effects of these events with the COVID-19 pandemic during the last 18-months, clearly demonstrates the need for greater investment in disaster risk reduction and a multi-hazard approach to disaster risk management.

Allow me to share our deepest thoughts for the people and communities affected and our commitment to support efforts towards the reduction of disaster risk.

As we come out of the crisis, we must learn the lessons to build back better, building in resilience, and not creating new risks. COVID-19 has demonstrated the need for a whole-of-government approach that leverages the capacities of all relevant line Ministries, along with national, regional and local government bodies responsible for disaster risk playing a crucial role.

Furthermore, it has reinforced the importance of international cooperation for disaster preparedness. In this increasingly interconnected world, international cooperation is vital for good global risk governance in the face of planetary emergencies, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.

On this International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction, we stand still and take stock of how international cooperation is at the heart of European efforts to build resilience across the continent.

UNDRR and the European Union have worked closely over the years on this critical issue. The collaboration of UNDRR and the European Committee of the Regions to work further on urban resilience, through a Joint Plan of Action and collaboration in the Making Cities Resilient 2030, is a strong political recognition of this reality. I would also like to commend the strong engagement with Commissioner Lenarcic and the European Commission, who are driving the EU’s engagement on the implementation of the Sendai Framework.

To achieve a transformative approach to disaster risk reduction, it is necessary to work together. Especially considering that cities and regions are at the forefront when a disaster strike. They are also the source of numerous initiatives and innovations to building resilience to disasters and reduce the risk to citizens and local systems.

The Making Cities Resilient 2030 initiative, or MCR2030, has been created to support cities to put in place local disaster risk reduction strategies and assist in implementation. It is a unique cross-stakeholder initiative for improving local and regional resilience through advocacy, sharing knowledge and experiences, establishing mutually reinforcing city-to-city learning networks, injecting technical expertise, connecting multiple layers of government and building partnerships. I encourage all cities and regions represented here today to join MCR2030.

Enhancing resilience across the region will also be key to the European Forum for Disaster Risk Reduction, which will convene 55 Member States and stakeholders from the region, to assess progress on implementing national and local disaster risk reduction strategies as set out in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

Taking place right after COP26, from 24 to 26 November 2021 in Portugal, the Forum will serve as a platform to reflect on the lessons learned from the pandemic and the increasing impact of global warming and extreme weather.

My hope is that the Forum will result in greater levels of commitment to reducing disaster risk in general and adaptation to climate change in particular. 

In fact, today marks the launch of UNDRR’s Prevention Saves Lives campaign in the build up to the European Forum and the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction. This campaign seeks to reframe the narrative on disaster resilience, demonstrating that it is an investment and not a cost.

Because investing in prevention builds resilience and saves lives.

I would once again offer my thanks to the President of the European Committee of the Regions for his kind invitation to speak here today. I look forward to working together in advocating for a strengthened engagement of local and regional actors at the EU level and beyond through our joint Action Plan, and to welcoming you at the European Forum in November.

Thank you for your attention. 

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