“Without concerted action, we could see natural catastrophes on an unprecedented scale, which could even become threats to international security and inter-State relations,” Mr. Ban told the ministerial meeting on reducing disaster risks in a changing climate, held at United Nations Headquarters. in New York
He noted that in the last few weeks alone, massive flooding hit northern India and tropical storms Gustav, Hanna and Ike caused extensive damage in the Gulf of Mexico, affecting millions of people.
But prudent policies and well-informed community action, such as improved river management, early warning and evacuation, food security, wise land-use planning and the enforcement of sound building codes, can save lives and avert damage.
“The good news is that a natural hazard does not automatically have to lead to a disaster,” Mr. Ban said. “Countries such as Bangladesh, Cuba, Jamaica, Madagascar and the Philippines have shown that good building designs, proper land-use planning, public education, community preparedness and effective early warning systems can reduce the impact of severe weather events.”
He noted that four years have passed since the adoption in 2005 of the Hyogo Framework for Action, a 10-year plan to tackle natural hazards, and that many States had made good progress in integrating risk reduction into national development plans and poverty reduction strategies.
“Still, the world is not yet on track to achieve the Framework’s desired outcome of a substantial reduction of losses by 2015. A major scaling up of efforts and resources is needed,” Mr. Ban warned.
“I call on you to lead the way in championing disaster risk reduction as a core element of climate change adaptation. I also urge you to implement the policies and practices of disaster risk reduction as a first line defence in adapting to climate change. These are important investments in the protection of your people.”