The United Nations and its humanitarian partners appealed today for stepped-up action on a global scale to boost preparedness for effectively responding to disasters brought on by climate change.
The Inter-Agency Standing Committee – comprising nearly 20 UN agencies and aid organizations – and the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) issued the call in Poznan, Poland, where the latest round of UN climate change talks is under way.
“Climate change is not some futuristic scenario,” cautioned John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs. “It’s happening today, and millions of people are already suffering the consequences.”
Last year’s devastating floods in sub-Saharan Africa and China, the heat waves in South-Eastern Europe, droughts in Eastern and Southern Africa and massive Caribbean hurricanes all serve as a “curtain raiser on the future,” he added.
Nine out of 10 disasters recorded are climate-related, while the number of disasters has doubled to more than 400 annually over the past two decades.
During the course of the next 20 years, it s expected that the intensity, frequency, duration and extent of weather-related hazards will rise around the world.
Better disaster risk reduction, preparedness and response will curtail much of the loss and suffering resulting from such hazards.
According to a press release issued today by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), investing in risk reduction can curb the amount of money needed to respond to emergencies once they have occurred.
For example, China averted losses of some $12 billion as a result of the just over $3 billion it spent on flood control between 1960 and 2000.