Millions of people around the world are vulnerable to natural and man-made hazards. Unsustainable management and use of ecosystems is often a root cause of such vulnerability. Wetlands International calls for better integration of approaches to disaster risk reduction, bringing together expertise from relevant sectors and making optimal use of the natural protection provided by ecosystems.
All around the world, people are increasingly exposed to disaster risk from natural hazards such as droughts, storms and fl oods. As disasters increase in frequency and intensity, there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that traditional approaches to disaster risk reduction (DRR) are often insuffi cient to make a lasting difference. Disaster response and relief, and community development and preparedness remain key pillars of DRR, but practitioners increasingly recognise the need to also address the root causes of risk and vulnerability.
Ecosystem degradation is often one such root cause. Deforestation, overexploitation of water resources, draining of wetlands and other practices that degrade ecosystems often stem from fl awed spatial planning or inappropriate water management policies. As a result, ecosystem services - the benefi ts people derive from ecosystems, such as water purifi cation, pest and disease control, as well as the provision of food and energy - are undermined.
Addressing the often complex underlying causes of risk requires integration of best practices from DRR, climate change adaptation and ecosystem-based approaches to land and resource management. This must be done at various levels, from the community to the landscape level, and across the risk reduction cycle, from immediate disaster relief to longer-term mitigation and prevention measures.