Lessons from Japan tsunami vital to new disaster risk reduction agreement, says UN official

11 March 2015

Three days before the opening of the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, the head of the United Nations office dedicated to dealing with the threat posed by disasters took part today in a ceremony of solemn remembrance in Tokyo for those who died in the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of 11 March 2011.

“We think today of all those who lost their lives in the tsunami and all those who continue to re-build their lives four years later,” said Margareta Wahlström, the head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).

“The learning from that tragic event has helped in the development of a robust new agreement on disaster risk reduction which will be adopted at the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction,” she added in a news release.

At the Conference, which will begin on Saturday in the Japanese city of Sendai, will see the adoption of a successor agreement to the Hyogo Framework for Action, which was agreed by governments 10 years ago in the wake of the Indian Ocean tsunami.

A key focus of the new framework will be on reducing mortality and economic losses by agreeing on measures to bring down existing levels of risk and to avoid creation of new risks, according to UNISDR.

Over the last ten years some 700,000 people have died in disaster events; 1.7 billion people have been affected; and reported economic losses from major disaster events stand at $1.4 trillion.

A Preparatory Committee meeting will take place on Friday to discuss the current text of the new agreement, which places a strong emphasis on tackling the underlying drivers of risk such as poverty, climate change, eco-system decline, bad urban planning, land use and risk governance.


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