Countries must step up disaster reduction efforts, UN official says

27 June 2007

As climate change exacerbates and compounds the effects of disasters, countries must improve their readiness to minimize damages, stressed the head of the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR).

As climate change exacerbates and compounds the effects of disasters, countries must improve their readiness to minimize damages, stressed the head of the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR).

The agency’s Director, Sálvano Briceño, cited recent heavy rains in Pakistan, India and northern England, as well as heat waves in Greece, Italy and Romania as indications of what might happen more frequently and severely due to global warming.

“We are not trying to scare people but we want to alert every Government of the urgency to put disaster risk reduction as a top priority of their political agenda as no country will be immune,” he said.

“We cannot wait to be taken by surprise, we know what is going to happen and we can prepare for it,” he added.

Steps that countries can take include devising early warning systems, building flood shelters, establishing contingency plans to evacuate people quickly and protecting homes and key buildings and infrastructures such as hospitals, schools, water supplies, electricity installations and transport systems.

Recent reports by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have warned of increased rainfalls and higher temperatures resulting from global warming.

“We can no longer afford to ignore growing and compelling warnings from the world’s leading experts,” Mr. Briceño said. “The situation is not beyond remedy and building resilience and minimizing costs, through adaptation to climate variability and change, is essential to secure the future of societies and economies.”

Flooding has killed over 200 people recently in India and Pakistan, while people in northern England are struggling to recover from the effects of one month’s worth of rain falling in several hours.

 

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