UN chief appeals to int'l community to focus on disaster risk management

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, May 16, 2013
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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon on Wednesday appealed to the international community, both the public and private sectors, to incorporate disaster risk management in their long-term rebuilding strategies.

Ban made the appeal at the launch of the latest global assessment report by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction ( UNISDR).

Entitled Creating Shared Value: the Business Case for Disaster Risk Reduction, the report said that "so far this century, direct losses from disasters are in the range of 2.5 trillion U.S. dollars."

To further emphasize this point, the UN chief said in his remarks that "direct losses from floods, earthquakes and drought have been underestimated by at least 50 percent" in 56 countries around the world and called on governments to look at strategies for change moving forward.

"Looking to the future, the report estimates that average losses from earthquakes and wind damage from cyclones will be 189 billion U.S. dollars per year" because disaster risk is increasing with every passing day, he said.

As of now, "governments bear the primary responsibility for disaster risk reduction," he said.

"But the level of risk is also related to the where and how of investment by the private sector, which is responsible for 70 to 85 percent of worldwide investment in new buildings, industry and critical infrastructure," Ban noted.

At this time, "let us not shy away from the meaning of these numbers: Economic losses from disasters are out of control," he said.

"They can only be reduced in partnership with the private sector, including investment banks and insurance companies" because "for too long, markets have placed greater value on short- term returns than on sustainability and resilience," he said.

The secretary-general further pointed out that "the unprecedented growth of urban areas presents new opportunities for resilient investment."

For example, "in India alone, the urban population is expected to reach 875 million in 2050, more than double current levels. Imagine the long-term benefits, both social and economic, if these investments are resilient to natural hazards, and secure for generations to come," he said.

Following the release of this report, there will be the Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction held in Geneva, Switzerland, from May 19 to 23.

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