UN tsunami envoy Bill Clinton urges immediate steps to prevent disaster

20 January 2006

Thousands of lives and billions of dollars lost in the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 could have been saved if disaster reduction strategies had been in place, United Nations tsunami envoy former United States President Bill Clinton said today, highlighting the urgent need to implement these measures.

In a statement marking the one-year anniversary of an international agreement aimed at reducing the impact of natural disasters – known as the Hyogo Framework for Action – Mr. Clinton urged all governments and international institutions to act on its recommendations immediately.

“Disaster risk awareness education needs to be incorporated into school curricula, communities should be informed about potential hazards, and new construction must adhere to safer building-standards,” Mr. Clinton said.

“These achievable goals were adopted by 168 governments at the World Conference on Disaster Reduction which took place in January 2005, one month after the tsunami struck the region,” he said, emphasizing that there was no time to lose.

The Hyogo Framework, which runs from 2005-2015, calls on governments to invest in measures such as national and local risk assessments, early warning systems, public awareness and education, better urban planning and safer building construction codes.

On Wednesday, Sálvano Briceño, Director of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), said that since the signing of the Framework in January 2005, some 40 countries had put disaster risk reduction at the top of their political agendas, but he called for further actions to strengthen prevention systems.

The 26 December 2004 tsunami disaster killed over 230,000 people and displaced some 1.5 million in more than 12 countries.


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