Wednesday, 03 September 2014

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Countries must aim for more coordinated action to reduce disaster risk – UN report

The earthquake in Haiti on 12 January 2010 topped the list of disasters for last year10 March 2011 – The United Nations office assisting countries with disaster risk reduction is calling for more coordinated and coherent action across different sectors of government to reduce setbacks caused by hazards such as droughts, earthquakes and hurricanes.

In 2005, 168 countries endorsed the Hyogo Framework for Action by which they agreed to achieve by 2015 “the substantial reduction of disaster losses, in lives and in the social, economic and environmental assets of communities and countries.”

The mid-term review of the plan, released yesterday, points out that a majority of countries have road maps for creating and safeguarding wealth, but many are lacking capacity. In some cases, there is capacity but no legal basis for coordination among the different government sectors.

“The report emphasizes that countries need to conduct risk assessments that lead to wiser development plans, to be carried out by institutions that are well-funded, well-coordinated and trustworthy,” says Margareta Wahlström, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction.  

“Whereas it is evident that more efforts are required and that the challenges at hand are complex, we do have the knowledge, the means and the resources to tackle them. In most cases it is a matter of harnessing these resources (financial, institutional, and human) in more creative, integrated and thus effective ways,” she writes in the foreword to the report, released by the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR).

“Strengthening of communities’ resilience requires new and innovative forms of public-private partnerships in the political, economic, financial, and research fields,” she adds.

The report highlights the advances that have been made over the past five years in disaster risk reduction, including laws enacted in many countries relating to the issue. At the same time, it points out that progress in implementing the framework is uneven across the world, reflecting broad economic and institutional differences among regions and countries.

It notes, among other issues, that countries must strive for “a senior, over-arching authority” that can set policies, be accountable for how policies are carried out and ensure enough funds to sustain work in disaster risk reduction.

The report also highlights the need to create a “social demand” for disaster risk reduction so that individuals realize their own share of responsibility in increasing their resilience and in holding governments accountable for the development and implementation of coherent disaster risk reduction plans and investments.

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