Marking the International Day for Disaster Reduction, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today stressed the need to implement a strategic response to natural hazards.
In his message on the Day, which is traditionally observed on the second Wednesday of October, Mr. Annan underscored the importance of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, which aims to limit the losses and suffering caused by these calamities. The Strategy calls on local communities to mobilize and urges governments to create and enforce strict building codes. Further, it seeks to exploit scientific and technical knowledge to devise responses that go beyond short-term humanitarian assistance.
"United Nations agencies and their partners are strongly committed to carrying out this Strategy by bringing people and expertise together in the search for solutions," the Secretary-General said. "It is within our power to join forces, address the immense complexities of disaster reduction, and build a world of resilient communities and nations equipped to counter the adverse impact of natural hazards and related environmental and technological disasters."
The President of the UN General Assembly, Han Seung-soo of the Republic of Korea, also emphasized the importance of implementing the Strategy, which, he pointed out, "aims to increase the resilience of all societies to effects of natural hazards and associated disasters, thus reducing vulnerability to such phenomena."
Mr. Han also called attention to the ongoing efforts to reduce natural disasters. "We may never be able to eradicate natural disasters altogether, but we can certainly make our common home - planet earth - more disaster-proof for the benefit of future generations."
According to the UN, incidences of natural disasters continued to increase over the past year. Powerful earthquakes struck India, El Salvador and Peru, while floods ravaged Africa and South Asia. Droughts continued to plague Afghanistan, Central America, and Sri Lanka, and volcanic activity has again struck Ecuador.