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Disaster risk reduction crucial for sustainable development, Assembly told

General Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser.
UN Photo/Mark Garten
General Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser.

Disaster risk reduction crucial for sustainable development, Assembly told

Disaster risk reduction must be incorporated in all sustainable development strategies, the President of the General Assembly emphasized today, noting that the risk of losing wealth to natural disasters is outpacing wealth creation.

“Addressing disaster risk reduction is therefore inseparable from the broader sustainable development agenda,” Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser told the Assembly, as it held a thematic debate on disaster risk reduction.

He pointed out, for example, that over the past three decades, the risk of economic loss as a result of floods rose by over 160 per cent, while economic loss incurred as a result of cyclones surged by 265 per cent in countries that are members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Today’s thematic debate aims to contribute to ongoing discussions on how disaster risk reduction can be best incorporated in the outcome document that will be agreed at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in June.

“Strengthening the resilience of vulnerable communities and building a sustainable future is one of the greatest challenges faced by the international community. Rio+20 is an opportunity of a generation,” said Mr. Al-Nasser.

In his message to the debate, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted that disasters had the tendency to exacerbate poverty and undermine development planning, particularly poverty reduction strategies.

“When we reduce disaster risk, we increase our chances of achieving the Millennium Development Goals [MDGs] and building a truly sustainable world for all,” Mr. Ban said in his message, delivered on his behalf by Susana Malcorra, his Chef de Cabinet.

“You have voiced your conviction that disaster risk reduction should not be a stand alone issue. And you have identified how disaster risk reduction must be integrated into the development agenda. The challenge is to translate this understanding into action,” said the Secretary-General.

He stressed that progress required engagement by governments, civil society and the private sector to ensure that disaster risk reduction is an integral part of all projects from planning to implementation.

“The evidence for investing in disaster risk reduction is clear. The political momentum is growing. Let us continue to be ambitious. Let us work for action in Rio and beyond,” Mr. Ban added.