Asia Pacific: UN report calls for better risk management

27 Oct 15

Unparalleled disaster risks in Asia Pacific region need to be addressed before sustainable development in the region can be achieved, a new UN report has said.

The Asia-Pacific Disaster Report 2015 ‒ Disasters without borders: regional resilience for sustainable development report launched today by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific sets out the need for risk reduction in the most disaster-prone region in the world.

Shamshad Akhtar, UN under secretary general and executive secretary of ESCAP, said: “It is a grave concern that disasters are becoming more frequent, much larger and more intense. The majority of disasters in our region are cross-border. Only by coming together in the spirit of cooperation can the Asia Pacific region hope to become truly disaster resilient.”

She noted that this was clearly demonstrated by the 7.5 magnitude earthquake that affected Afghanistan, Pakistan, parts of India and Tajikistan yesterday.

The report outlined successful cases where countries in the region have worked together by sharing technology, information and expertise in disaster preparedness, as well as identifying areas currently lacking in strong cooperation such as cross-border floods and landslides.

It added that there are several neglected disaster management issues that put people, cities, infrastructure and economies at risk, such as drought.

Alongside analysing the effectiveness of multi-hazard systems, the report set out a framework for information sharing systems and for integrating disaster risk reduction plans into developments.

Akhtar said “a fundamental rethink is needed” as many governments were following a short-sighted approach to disasters that focuses on response while paying less attention to adaption, mitigation and preparedness.

Meanwhile, the 2015 Pacific Regional Disaster Resilience Meeting in Fiji was opened yesterday by Margareta Wahlström of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction.

Representatives from national and local government, the private sector, UN Agencies and several non governmental organisations met to discuss how to reduce disaster loss across the region. The meeting comes amid growing fears that the El Niño weather phenomenon will result in more extreme weather events across the region’s hazard-prone islands and atolls.

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