UN Secretary-General calls on Member States to use disaster risk reduction for climate change adaptation

United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction

Disaster impacts and losses continue to rise globally, and weather related disasters are affecting millions more people around the world. The cyclone in Myanmar, floods in India and the current hurricane season in the Caribbean are just recent examples of weather extremes predicted to worsen with climate change.

To help Member States find solutions to cope with climatic disasters, BAN Ki-moon, the United Nations Secretary-General, convened a ministerial meeting in New York on Monday 29th of September.

The Secretary-General called on ministers to lead the way at Poznan, Poland, in championing disaster risk reduction as a core element of climate change adaptation. He urged Governments to give high priority to implementing disaster risk reduction measures, in order to achieve the goals set by the Hyogo Framework for Action (2005-2015).

“We must not delay,” said the Secretary-General. “If we are too slow to adapt to climate change, we risk making disasters even more catastrophic than they need to be. We must draw on the Hyogo Framework for Action and disaster risk reduction knowledge to protect the world’s most vulnerable populations against climate change.”

Disaster risk reduction measures are already helping to lower the impact of natural hazards. For example, the planting of mangroves in Vietnam, and Chinese investment in flood control, have saved lives and avoided significant economic losses. China’s US$3.1 billion flood control spending between 1960 and 2000 is estimated to have averted losses of about US$12 billion, according to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The meeting gathered 200 participants from 86 Member States to discuss solutions for adapting to the adverse effects of climate change. Member States shared their experiences in reducing disaster risks in their countries and expressed their concern about the increased vulnerability due to climate change and the need for extra financial resources to adapt to climate change, including reducing disaster risks.

The subject will be a focus of a workshop in Poznan in December, which provides an important opportunity for climate change negotiators to discuss risk reduction issues in depth before moving toward the firm language of the agreements needed by December 2009.

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