18.11.2012 - Natural Sciences Sector

Improving the UN’s role in disaster mitigation

© UN Photo/Victoria Hazou. A simulated injured victim is assisted by UN peacekeepers of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) during an emergency response training exercise.

Disaster reduction makes humanitarian sense – because putting adequate warning and mitigation measures in place can save lives – and it makes economic sense as well because an ounce of prevention is usually worth a pound of cure. To be exact, every dollar spent on preparedness saves 7 dollars in response.

Over the last four decades, scientific knowledge about natural hazards and the technological means of confronting them has expanded greatly. Yet despite the ample availability of knowledge and expertise, vulnerability is growing because of unsustainable development, climate change and extremes of weather increase the scope and cost of disasters. Ever larger populations are at risk, mostly in the developing countries.

In order to facilitate the elaboration of a United Nations action plan on disaster risk reduction and resilience, UNESCO will host the first UN High Level Retreat on Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience at its Headquarters in Paris from 19 to 20 November 2012.  

The Retreat will produce a consolidated outline for the UN action plan on disaster risk reduction and resilience and a roadmap for its finalization, roll-out and implementation. In particular it will:

  • Look at the UN role and added value,
  • Define areas around which commitments need to be developed and
  • Identify a timeframe for an effective roll-out for the action plan, including key milestones for its finalization and implementation.

Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO, will open the retreat and Margareta Wahlstrom, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, will give introductory remarks.

The exercise will be done in the context of the post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction.

Background
The CEB/HLCP Senior Management Group on Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience has been requested to facilitate the elaboration of an UN action plan on disaster risk reduction and resilience:

The Chief Executives Board (CEB) furthers coordination and cooperation on a whole range of substantive, management and operational issues facing UN system organizations.

The High Level Committee on Programmes (HLCP) is the principle mechanism for system-wide coordination in the programme area in the UN system. It is responsible to CEB for fostering coherence, cooperation and coordination on the programme dimensions of strategic issues for the UN System.




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