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BANGKOK, 15 November 2019 – Bangladesh on Wednesday declared climate change to be a “planetary emergency” and called on the world to work “on a war footing” to combat it and reduce its impacts. Led by parliamentarian Mr. Saber Hossain Chowdhury, who is a global champion for disaster risk reduction and former president of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Bangladesh parliament unanimously passed a motion declaring a “planetary emergency.” While countries such as Britain, France, Canada, Portugal, and Argentina have declared climate emergencies, the Bangladesh parliament is the first to declare a “planetary emergency.” The declaration also makes Bangladesh the first among developing countries to issue such an alert and call for action. The impacts of climate change are already being felt in the Asia-Pacific region, which is experiencing an increase in the frequency, intensity, and duration of climate-related hazards such as cyclones, floods, droughts, and heatwaves. Bangladesh is among the countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The passage of the motion coincides with the 49th anniversary of the 1970 Bhola cyclone, which killed hundreds of thousands of people in the densely populated Ganges-Brahmaputra delta and is considered one of the deadliest disasters in recorded history. The motion calls on countries to step up their commitments under the Paris climate agreement and highlights that developing countries require assistance to build up the resilience from climate-induced disasters: “Planetary justice and climate equity demands that these vulnerable countries are assisted with requisite finance and technology to meet development aspirations.” Commenting on the motion, Mr. Chowdhury, who recently addressed governments and stakeholders in Australia for the Asia-Pacific Partnership Forum for Disaster Risk Reduction, said: “For the first time in human history, our planet faces a series of converging crises, all on the same timeline - global warming, disasters, extreme weather events, bio-diversity loss, acidification of oceans, water stress, food insecurity, planetary overshoot. A perfect storm is brewing and we must act now before it’s too late.” At the Forum, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) called on countries to accelerate their efforts to reduce their risk to disasters and build up the resilience of communities and infrastructure to counter the impacts of climate change. This call resulted in a set of priorities that can help all countries accelerate their national and local efforts. These priorities will shape the agenda of the upcoming Asia-Pacific Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (APMCDRR), which will be co-hosted by UNDRR and the Government of Australia in June 2020, in the Australian city of Brisbane.
BONN, 13 November, 2019: More than 75 participants from 358 countries met in Bonn, Germany last week to review the progress to date on the implementation and use of the Sendai Framework Monitor which allows countries to report on the achievements of the seven targets of the Sendai Framework, the global plan to reduce disaster losses by 2030. The Sendai Framework was adopted in Japan in 2015. The 2019 Technical Forum on the ‘Contribution of the Sendai Framework Monitoring (SFM) Process to Reducing the Risk of the Most Vulnerable’, held from 5-7 November 2019 at the UN Campus in Bonn was organized by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) with the support of the Government of Germany. This is the third time that such an annual technical forum was organized to review the progress made by countries to implement the Sendai Framework. So far 1032 countries have started the monitoring process on disaster losses for 2018. Participants identified urgent actions to accelerate the achievement of all Sendai Framework targets and in particular target (e) which aims at increasing the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020. “Disasters are key obstacles to sustainable development and are increasingly intensified by climate change” said Ricardo Mena, Chief of the Supporting and Monitoring Sendai Framework Implementation Branch of UNDRR in his welcome remarks. Mr. Mena also mentioned that “Disasters exacerbated by climate change are the new reality” and “require that we act decisively and with greater ambition”. Speaking at the occasion, the Deputy Head of the Liaison Office for the UN Campus – Bonn, Federal Foreign Office of Germany, Stefan Kruschke, acknowledged progress achieved so far and emphasized the complex challenges posed by natural and man-made hazards. “Disasters create complex challenges, destroying human lives and dignity which require more action’, Mr. Kruschke said. The Sendai Framework targets and indicators also measure progress on three critical SDGs: Goal 1, end poverty in all its forms everywhere; Goal 11, make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable, and Goal 13, take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. The event in Bonn coincided with World Tsunami Awareness Day, which takes place each year on 5 November. The occasion for participants to further discuss the importance of target (d) of the Sendai Framework which was this year the main focus of the Day. Target (d) aims at reducing disaster damage to critical infrastructure and disruption of basic services. Speaking about the Tsunami Awareness day, Mr. Mena reminded the audience about how tsunami poses a real threat even for people living in countries far away from high tsunami risk zones because often these areas are popular tourist destinations, thus making the visitors vulnerable, especially given that they are less informed than the resident communities.
By Brigitte LeoniMore than 150 government representatives, members of academia and young participants from the 2019 Japan World Tsunami Awareness Day High School Summit commemorated World Tsunami Awareness Day on 5 November at the United Nations Headquarters, New York and discussed innovative solutions to reduce tsunami risks. The Panel discussion- co-organized by the Permanent Missions of Chile, Japan, Maldives, Australia, Indonesia, Norway and Peru as Co-Chairs of the Group of Friends of Disaster Risk Reduction, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, and the United Nations Development Programme- was one of the three events held in New York. “Tsunamis are the deadliest and costliest of all disasters. In minutes, they wipe out decades of investment in development. You may think that very little can be done in the face of a 30-meter wall of water travelling at 60 kilometers an hour. However, when disaster risk reduction is applied, there is concrete evidence that it works. Even for tsunamis. said Mami Mizutori, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, UNDRR in her opening remarks. “Risk-informed planning that limits where people can build to safe zones, ensuring that early warning systems are in place and people know what to do and building infrastructure to last are critical.”, SRSG Mizutori added. Her remarks were strongly supported by Ambassador Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, President of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly who urged Member States to have disaster risk reduction (DRR) strategies in place to accelerate Sustainable Development Goals implementation. “I commend the 95 Member States who have developed national and local DRR strategies and call on all remaining member states who have not done so to include all stakeholders, including civil society, in the decision-making processes as they move forward so as to ensure that the needs of the community – in particular women and youth- are met,” he said. M. Teru Fukui, a Japanese Member of Parliament underlined the important advocacy efforts supported through the 2019 High School Student Summit for WTAD, which this year was held in Hokkaido, Japan. More than 400 students from 44 countries attended. “We are pleased today to have five students from the Hokkaido summit with us at the United Nations. We value their opinions and input. High School Student Summits help us to join up how our predecessors have acted to reduce disaster risk, with ideas for the future,” added Mr.Fukui. The opening remarks were followed by a discussion moderated by Stephanie Speck, UNDRR Chief- Communication, which included presentations from government representatives and young participants from the 2019 WTAD High School Student Summit. Dr. Wisnu Widjaja, Deputy Minister for System and Strategy, National Disaster Management Authority of the Republic of Indonesia briefed the audience on lessons learned after the tsunamis in Palu in September 2018 and Krakatau in December 2018, and promoted a range of new information tools that provide valuable citizen information, including the new Inarisk information system, which can now display multi-hazard risk assessments and better monitor risks in Indonesia. Nicolas Morgado Maldonado from the Colegio Bajo Molle, Chile who attended the WTAD High School Student Summit said he learned a lot from the Summit in Japan and will now work closely with the young people of his country to improve disaster risk reduction awareness. “My country is located on the Ring of Fire. Despite this we were surprised to see how so few young Chileans know about tsunami and earthquake risks. We also noticed, that all our evacuation routes in Chile include stairs, which can prevent a lot of people from being evacuated in time if a disaster happens. We thought we could do something about it through social media campaigns to better inform citizens with special needs.” Robert Kirkbride, Dean of Parsons School of Constructed Environments and Professor of Architecture and Product Design, New School, New York presented a range of initiatives that sensitize future architects on urban resilience, such as the Earth Manual Project and the “Lost homes model restoration project”. These initiatives were inspired by design initiatives undertaken in Japan. Ambassador Milenko Esteban Skoknic Tapia, Permanent Representative of Chile to the United Nations in New York and Ambassador Thilmeeza Hussain, Permanent Representative of the Maldives to the United Nations in New York highlighted the importance of bringing different stakeholders around the same table to reduce tsunami risks in the future. “Risks remain immense “, concluded Mami Mizutori, “Disaster risk reduction is everybody’ business. We cannot forget and this is why, we have a World Tsunami Awareness Day every year. As the Secretary-General has stated, we are now entering the Decade of Action. All countries must move to ensure that disaster risk reduction national strategies are in place to reduce multi-hazard risks.” Prior to the panel discussion, UNDRR and the Japan Mission in New York organized an intergenerational dialogue, which was webcast on UN TV and hosted on Facebook Live, reaching almost 3,000 people. Participants discussed ways to better inform citizens on tsunami risks: young and old. Five students from Chile and Japan representing the WTAD High School Student Summit; Marc McDonald from the AARP Foundation, which helps vulnerable older adults build economic opportunity and social connectedness and SRSG Mizutori joined the dialogue, which strongly underlined the importance of building resilience across generations. WTAD in New York ended with a reception held at the Japan Society attended by 150 people. SRSG Mizutori honored Ambassador Bessho of Japan, thanking him for his support and leadership of WTAD and wishing him well in his future endeavors.
By Denis McCleanSENDAI, 6 November, 2019 - The earthquake and tsunami which occurred in Chile in February, 2010, helped save the lives of 320 people in Japan when it was struck the following year by the strongest recorded earthquake and tsunami ever to hit the country. The tsunami waves from Chile reached Japan’s Tohoku coast and prompted a review of disaster prevention measures at the Arahama Elementary School situated close to the sea in the Sendai region of Japan. The prescient decision was taken to move the school’s tsunami evacuation site from the gymnasium to the main four-storey school building. Emergency supplies kept in the gym were moved to the third floor of the school. The March 11, 2011 earthquake was felt at 14.46 and a tsunami warning quickly followed. The Great East Japan Earthquake was at least magnitude 9 and reached maximum intensity of 7 on the Japanese scale of measurement. Arahama headmaster, Takao Kawamura, ordered the gym to be shuttered and any children inside to leave for the safety of the school’s upper floors where they had a grandstand view of the seven metre high tsunami as it suddenly burst through the forest of pine trees which screened the school’s view of the ocean. The waves destroyed the gym and reached up to the second floor of the school, jamming the stairwell with debris from the remains of the pine forest and vehicles from the car park. The 320 people on the rooftop including schoolchildren, staff and some local people were safe. That is all part of the story shared with the 200,000 people who have visited the school over the last two years. Arahama Elementary School is now partly derelict, left as it was after the tsunami, and has been converted into a place of pilgrimage and learning to spread awareness of tsunami risk among Japanese and many visitors from overseas. One of the guides, Mori Kida (57), survived the tsunami on the rooftop of the school with her ten year old son, Tomoya. She worked part-time in the school library but was at home when she felt the powerful earthquake. She drove as soon as possible to collect her son from the school but decided to stay there when she saw how congested the traffic was on the roads leading away from the coast towards the safety of Sendai city. Mori and Tomoya remained there for the next 20 hours until it was safe to leave. Her mission in life now is to spread awareness of tsunami risk by talking to the many groups that visit the site such as the 20 young student teachers from Miyagi university who visited there yesterday on World Tsunami Awareness Day. Among them was Yukika Eiro who was a young girl living near the Fukushima nuclear power plant which was destroyed by the tsunami and continues to generate radioactive waste. Her main concern as a young girl was the radiation coming off the nuclear reactor. She explained that one reason she wanted to become a teacher was to pass on her own experiences and the visit to Arahama had strengthened her desire to be an advocate for disaster risk reduction for future generations of Japanese schoolchildren. “Coming here has really helped my understanding of tsunami risk,” she said after a visit to a classroom which now uses a model of Sendai’s inundation zone. In March 2011, some 200 people died out of 2,000 who lived in the Arahama district. Many of them were older retired people who were either unable to evacuate on their own or reluctant to leave their homes. Mori’s advice to everyone living in a tsunami zone is simple. “When you feel the earthquake, move immediately to safety and higher ground. Don’t wait for the tsunami alert.”
By Denis McCleanSENDAI, 5 November, 2019 - Tsunami warning sirens sounded across the Sendai coastal plain this morning sending thousands of people to some 40 designated evacuation sites as Japan marked World Tsunami Awareness Day with many such drills. In Sendai, a helicopter flew along the seashore over the designated Tsunami Inundation Area reinforcing the warning that a magnitude 9 earthquake had occurred off the coast. Both the sea and city of Sendai were clearly visible from the top of the Minamo-Gamo evacuation tower where about 90 people gathered on the rooftop shortly after the sirens sounded, including older persons and many students from the local Middle School. On March 11, 2011, Seiko Abe (77) evacuated to the local school to escape the tsunami waves triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake and today she evacuated again, with her dog, and despite her limited mobility. She said her legs hurt a little as she mounted the stairs of the evacuation tower which rises ten metres above the ground but she found the training useful and it made her feel safe. Ramps allow for wheelchair access. Also participating in the exercise were children from nearby Takasago Middle School where tsunami awareness and disaster preparedness are given top priority by the teaching staff. Riku Asano, a third grade student who lives in the neighbourhood, said he has learned many useful skills for disaster situations including CPR, how to use a fire extinguisher and how to set up a portable toilet. “I live nearby so if I had to evacuate I would do so with my family. I don’t remember the 2011 tsunami and so much time has passed that it is good to hear the stories from the older people who did experience it. Hearing the stories is important and motivates us to continue the training.” Kazune Matsuoka who is also in the third grade also agrees that it is good to hear stories from older persons. “It is important to go somewhere high when the warning comes. These trainings lead to good practices and makes sure that everyone knows the route.” Munehiro Takahashi, a fire department officer working with Sendai city’s crisis management section, said that preparedness planning at the time of the 2011 earthquake was based on the experience of a smaller earthquake and one metre tsunami experienced in 1978 and this proved to be inadequate. Another factor in the high death toll was some reluctance to evacuate given that there had been two tsunami alerts in the week before the March 11 tsunami which were not followed by any significant rise in sea level. “We were not expecting the 2011 tsunami to be so large and because of that people were not as prepared as they needed to be. We have taken many actions since then including these regular exercises, building embankments and multiple defences including coastal levees, elevated roads, evacuation towers and hills, and evacuation stairs at five locations along the strategically important Sendai Tobu road,” said Mr. Takahashi through an interpreter. There are also plans to provide tsunami warning messages in foreign languages as the area attracts a high number of overseas visitors. This is the 4th year that the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction has fostered the observance of World Tsunami Awareness Day following adoption of a UN General Assembly Resolution in 2016. Over 15,000 people died in the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami which also triggered a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. History shows that tsunamis though relatively rare, when they occur are the most deadly of all natural hazards. The date recalls the November 5, 1854 tsunami that occurred as a result of the Ansei-Nankai earthquake in Wakayama Prefecture in western Japan. Every Japanese school child knows the story “Inamura no Hi” or The Fire of the Rice Sheaves. The story goes that after feeling the earthquake, Hamaguchi Goryo, a local leader in the village of Hiromura on the Kii Peninsula, anticipated a tsunami would come when he noticed the lowering of the tide and a rapid decrease in the level of well water. He guided his fellow villagers to evacuate to higher ground by setting fire to his precious sheaves of rice, knowing that the villagers would run uphill to help put out the flames. He informed them of the tsunami risk and told them to make sure that everyone left the village for higher ground.
By Denis McCleanSENDAI, 4 November, 2019 - This World Tsunami Awareness Day, November 5, is an opportunity to raise awareness of the huge health risk that so-called “black tsunamis” pose to survivors who swallow their toxic waters. Tsunami waves on coastlines affected by industrial pollution can be both both highly toxic and much more destructive due to their increased density and viscosity, according to Fumihiko Imamura, Professor of Tsunami Engineering at Tohoku University where he is also Director of the International Research Institute of Disaster Science (IRIDeS). Eight years after the magnitude 9.1 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami killed over 15,000 people on March 11, 2011, researchers have examined a sample of the water collected in a sake bottle by a survivor in the devastated city of Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture. The popular image of tsunami waves is that they are clear, salt water but it was evident from TV footage at the time that was not the case with the 2011 earthquake and it was only earlier this year that researchers managed to analyze a sample of the water collected when the tsunami struck. Prof. Imamura explained: “Normal tsunamis only contain the salt water but that is not the case with a black tsunami. When this sample was examined by Professor Taro Arikawa, a specialist in hydraulics and coastal engineering at Chuo University, it was found to contain a lot of mud, sand and pollutants including lead and mercury which is dangerous to the health of those who swallow it when they struggle to escape the waves.” He said the analysis explains why many doctors reported lung problems and illnesses such as pneumonia among survivors. “The higher density and viscosity of this kind of water also makes the front of the tsunami bigger and higher and more turbulent. It is estimated to be three to five times more destructive than a normal tsunami,” he said. Pollution of the oceans - including the discharge of raw sewage - along heavily industrialized coastlines has added a new dimension to tsunami risk. “This is a very important lesson learned that when a tsunami attacks an industrial area it will result in a black tsunami,” he said. The discovery of the preserved sample of water was made when Mr. Katsuro Ueda, a tsunami survivor from Kesennuma city was interviewed by NHK, the Japanese TV network, which then handed the bottle over for expert analysis. Large parts of Kesennuma were destroyed by the 2011 tsunami and the city lost 2,000 people. The town’s fishing fleet caught fire and burned for four days from spilled fuel. An ancient tsunami stone in the city reads: “Always be prepared for unexpected tsunamis. Choose life over your possessions and valuables.”
By Nicholas RamosBrussels, 17 October 2019 - European countries have moved a step closer to aligning their civil protection agendas with implementation of the global plan to reduce disaster losses, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. Experts from 31 of the Union Civil Protection Mechanism (UPCM) participating countries met last month for the first time with their National Sendai Framework counterparts in Brussels to identify how they can improve collaboration to achieve Sendai Framework targets including meeting the 2020 deadline to have national and local strategies in place. Civil protection assistance usually consists of governmental aid delivered in the immediate aftermath of a disaster but assistance made available through the Union Mechanism can also include advice and support to a requesting country on prevention and preparedness measures thus enhancing international cooperation, another key target of the Sendai Framework. “One of the main goals of establishing our DRR plan has been to fulfill the Sendai Framework requirements. We adopted 101 different measures: the majority of them focusing on engaging citizens in risk and disaster preparedness,” said Carlos Lucio Mendes from the Portuguese National Authority for Civil Protection (ANPC). Hosted by United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) and the European Commission’s Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO), this first joint meeting focused on reinforcing complementarity between the EU and UN frameworks on disaster risk reduction. Developing and implementing disaster risk reduction (DRR) strategies under the Sendai Framework is intrinsically linked to the EU-legislated need for countries to carry out risk assessments, risk management capability assessments and disaster risk management plans. Participants discussed the development and implementation of disaster risk reduction strategies and disaster risk management plans at the local level and the critical role of coordinating governance structures such as National Platforms for Disaster Risk Reduction. The European Union encourages more coordination across sectors and stakeholders, working to increase the sharing of best practice in disaster risk reduction. One of the main priorities of the Sendai Framework is the need for improved risk governance, through established and active National Platforms which have assisted in the delivery of several EU legislative requirements in the field of disaster risk management. Beyond activity implementation, understanding progress through regular monitoring is critical. An exploratory exercise by the European Commission and UNDRR demonstrated which global Sendai targets and monitoring indicators may be directly or indirectly linked to a wealth of EU legislation including policies and instruments in civil protection, climate and environment, to infrastructure, agriculture, security and research. The participants were from Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Finland, Croatia, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Latvia, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Malta, Norway, North Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Slovenia, Slovakia, Serbia, Turkey, and UK. The meeting also announced that the 2020 European Civil Protection Forum will take place in Brussels next October, and the 2021 European Forum for Disaster Risk Reduction (EFDRR) will take place in Portugal (dates to be announced).
Throughout my life I have visited many communities affected by extreme weather events and other natural hazards. From the South Pacific to Mozambique to the Caribbean and beyond, I have seen the devastating and life-changing impact of the climate emergency on vulnerable communities. Disasters inflict horrendous suffering and can wipe out decades of development gains in an instant. In the coming decades, the world will invest trillions of dollars in new housing, schools, hospitals and other infrastructure. Climate resilience and disaster risk reduction must be central to this investment. There is a strong economic case for such steps: making infrastructure more climate-resilient can have a benefit-cost ratio of about six to one. For every dollar invested six dollars can be saved. This means that investing in climate resilience creates jobs and saves money. And it is the right thing to do. It can ease and prevent human misery. I am encouraged by the global groundswell of public support for urgent climate action, and by the many commitments made at the recent Climate Action Summit. We all must now focus on increased ambitions. I call on the world to step up their investments by 2020 and ensure that disaster risk reduction is at the heart of the decade of action. Let us all push for greater ambition on climate action, disaster risk reduction and all other efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
By Rebecca Bonello GhioBANGKOK, 12 October 2019 – As one of the first countries in the region to mark the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Government of Thailand took advantage of the occasion to highlight how it is working with partners to build the resilience of its infrastructure. In its 30th year of celebration, this year's International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction, observed on 13 October, focuses on reducing disaster damage to critical infrastructure and disruption of basic services. It highlights the importance of investing in disaster resilient infrastructure, which is relevant to the achievement of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, underpins many of the Sustainable Development Goals, and is key to protecting against the effects of climate change. Thailand, like many countries in the region, is uniquely positioned to take advantage of the dividends offered by resilient infrastructure given the tremendous growth it has experienced in its construction sector due to increasing urbanization and economic growth. As the Chair of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for 2019, Thailand’s commemoration event also celebrated the ASEAN Day for Disaster Management. The event was organized by the Ministry of Interior’s Department for Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM), which has the lead for promoting disaster risk reduction and risk-informed development within the Thai government. A close partner of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, the DDPM sought to highlight its multi-partner and multi-sectoral approach to building infrastructure resilience. Praising the participation of many partners, Mr Chainarong Vasanasomsithi, the Deputy Director-General of DDPM, said in his opening remarks: “For disaster risk management to be successful, they require the strong cooperation that we have here today,” adding that “the event today is a good opportunity for the relevant network partners to share knowledge, activities and projects that have been implemented to create safety in schools, hospitals, and communities.” Investments in infrastructure have reached a record level globally, and Asia is expected to need investments of USD 1.7 trillion per year in infrastructure to maintain its growth trajectory. Thailand is no exception as it has become an upper middle-income country over the last few years with the second largest economy in Southeast Asia. From being a predominantly rural economy, more people now live in the urban areas than in the rural areas. Poverty levels have declined substantially over the last 30 years. Such a rapid transformation puts pressure on existing and increases demand for new infrastructure. However, not all of its infrastructure investments are built to be resilient. This puts its development gains at risk from disasters. Asia is estimated to bear direct physical losses of USD 126 million per day as a result of extreme weather events and geophysical hazards. “Thailand is in the midst of an economic transformation. However, unplanned development, climate change, and hazards like earthquakes, are all risks that Thailand faces. Countries must invest to protect against the disaster risk or pay an even heavier price later. The benefits of investing in resilient infrastructure outweigh costs by a ratio of 4 to 1. Yet, resilience is not an add-on to development – we cannot construct a building and then make it resilient. For the resilience dividend to be realised, risk must be embedded into the development planning and processes,” said Dr Animesh Kumar, Deputy Chief of the UNDRR Regional Office and one of the key speakers at the event. To accelerate this, UNDRR highlighted the potential role of the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure, led by the Government of India with support from UNDRR and other organisations. Launched at the Climate Action Summit this year, the Coalition will function as a multi-country and multi-stakeholder partnership on thematic areas like risk assessments, infrastructure resilience standards, financing and recovery and reconstruction. The event featured various activities organized by partner organizations, such as a knowledge exchange forum, several quiz games, a room-sized earthquake simulator, a virtual reality simulator, and Bangkok Metropolitan’s mobile disaster knowledge car. Sponsors and organizers of the event included the Thai Red Cross, Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, Thai PBS Television Station, Thai Insurance Association Civil Society, UNDRR, the UN Development Programme, World Vision Thailand, the Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre, Plan International, Stockholm Environment Institute, and the School Road Safety Club.
GENEVA, 11 October 2019 – Climate change is contributing to increasing damage to critical infrastructure around the globe, according to a twelve-year survey of damages caused by small- and medium-scale disasters conducted by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. Schools, health facilities and roads are regularly damaged by small-scale weather events which do not grab headlines. The ensuing economic losses and costs of recovery take a heavy toll on the ability of low and middle-income countries to invest in achieving the sustainable development goals including poverty reduction, health and education. A concerted effort has been underway to improve the collection of disaster loss data since the adoption in 2015 of the global plan to reduce disaster losses, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, and some 126 countries are now reporting on disaster losses through the online Sendai Framework Monitor based on data from national disaster loss databases. The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction looked at damage to education and health facilities which were identified as areas of critical concern by UN Member States when it came to measuring progress in reducing damage to critical infrastructure, a key target of the Sendai Framework. Since 2005, on average, more than 3,200 schools have been damaged or destroyed each year in a baseline sample of extensive risk in 83 countries while, on average, over 412 health facilities have been damaged or destroyed every year. The Sendai Framework Monitor data also shows that between 2005 and 2017 over 3,200 kilometers of roads have been damaged or destroyed in these same 83 countries from small and medium disasters alone. “The reports we are receiving are evidence that it is not just the number of extreme weather events that are on the rise but that there has also been a steady up-tick in the number of high-frequency recurrent low-to-medium intensity disasters that are taking their toll in terms of economic losses and disruption of basic services at the local level. This is further proof that the climate emergency is disrupting efforts to eradicate poverty and to put the world on a path to sustainable development,” said Mami Mizutori, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction. Drawn from reports received from 83 countries and territories, the findings are being used to highlight the theme of this year’s International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction which is focused on promoting resilient infrastructure and encouraging more durable and risk-informed construction under the slogan “Build To Last”. Mega-disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunamis have been excluded from the data sets to ensure that the statistics reflect long-term disaster trends, and the focus of the analysis has been on so-called extensive risk which manifests as large numbers of recurrent, low-to-medium severity disasters mainly associated with localized hazards such as flash floods, landslides, urban flooding, storms, fires and other time-specific events. Ms. Mizutori commented: “Extensive disaster risk is magnified not just by climate change but by other drivers of risk such as insufficiently planned and managed urban development, environmental degradation, poverty and inequality, vulnerable rural livelihoods and weak governance. Achievement of the sustainable development goals will need massive investment in critical infrastructure. Such investment needs to take account of the growing risks posed by climate related hazards. “Most of this type of loss is uninsured and tends to be absorbed by low-income households and communities, small businesses and local and national governments which have few resources to spare.”