International Day Calls for Reducing Number of People Affected by Disasters
UN Photo/Logan Abassi
story highlights

In an interview, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for DRR and Head of UNISDR Robert Glasser discussed, how DRR can help achieve the SDGs, and how climate change adaptation and DRM are inextricably linked.

In a joint op-ed, Glasser, UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner and UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa, emphasize that disasters “strip away livelihoods and progress on health and education” in the LDCs.

A report titled, ‘Global Disaster Displacement Risk: A baseline for future work,’ predicts a continued rise in homelessness among people in the world’s most disaster-prone countries.

13 October 2017: Against the backdrop of recent devastating hurricanes in the Atlantic and in Asia, the world celebrated the International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR) 2017. The event focused on ‘Reducing the number of people affected by disasters by 2030,’ in line with Target 2 of the ‘Sendai Seven’ campaign, which promotes the seven targets of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR). A number of interviews, studies and announcements marked the Day.

In a statement, UN Secretary-General António Guterres cautioned that “we will never achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” if vulnerable countries are “in a constant struggle to rebuild and recover after catastrophic events.” He called for implementation of the Sendai Framework for DRR and the Paris Agreement on climate change in order to prevent disasters, reduce disaster losses and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). [Secretary-General’s message for IDDR]

In an interview, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for DRR and Head of the UN Office for DRR (UNISDR) Robert Glasser discussed, inter alia, how DRR can help achieve the SDGs, and how climate change adaptation and disaster risk management (DRM) are inextricably linked. Glasser said that the estimated annual cost of disasters is around US$500 billion, and that 26 million people fall into poverty each year as a result of disasters, making attainment of the SDGs impossible without addressing disaster risk and climate change. He emphasized that climate change increases the severity and frequency of disasters, and that major disasters also represent opportunities for countries to begin “building back better.”

Regarding the UN role in addressing disaster risk, Glasser emphasized combating climate change and working on early and multi-hazard warning systems, and expressed hope that the current UN reform would help better address these challenges. He also highlighted the need to: integrate and address holistically climate change adaptation and disaster management; and help countries integrate the Paris Agreement and the Sendai Framework for DRR into their economic planning. [Interview with Special Representative of the Secretary-General for DRR and Head of UNISDR Robert Glasser]

In a joint op-ed, Robert Glasser, Achim Steiner and Patricia Espinosa underscore the need to simultaneously adapt to climate change and reduce disaster risk through international cooperation, and to ensure that climate risk management is integrated into DRM as a whole.

In a joint op-ed, Glasser, UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner and UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa, emphasize that disasters “strip away livelihoods and progress on health and education” in the least developed countries (LDCs). The article discusses: the silent catastrophe” of 4.2 million people dying prematurely every year from ambient pollution; disasters forcing over 40 million people from their homes in the last two years; and economic losses from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria likely surpassing US$300 billion. Noting that costly disaster recovery efforts are unaffordable for most countries and regions, the article underscores the need to: simultaneously adapt to climate change and reduce disaster risk through international cooperation “on an unprecedented scale”; and ensure that climate risk management is integrated into DRM as a whole. [Joint Op-ed by UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa and Special Representative of the Secretary-General for DRR and Head of UNISDR Robert Glasser]

The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) of the Norwegian Refugee Council, and UNISDR, released a report titled, ‘Global Disaster Displacement Risk: A baseline for future work,’ detailing the results generated by a global disaster displacement risk model. The report predicts a continued rise in homelessness among people in the world’s most disaster-prone countries mostly in South and Southeast Asia, unless disaster risk is better managed. According to the report, displacement caused by earthquakes, tsunamis, riverine floods and tropical cyclones must be addressed by DRM planning that should provide for safe, secure and affordable housing. [UNISDR Press Release on Global Disaster Displacement Risk Model]

The UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) highlighted the importance of improving industrial safety to call attention to risks from manmade disasters. According to the Commission, the UNECE’s 1992 Industrial Accidents Convention, negotiated following the 1986 Sandoz accident in Schweizerhalle, Switzerland, helps countries reduce and manage disaster risks from hazardous industrial activities by strengthening transboundary cooperation and capacities for prevention, preparedness and response. The Convention also helps implement the Sendai Framework for DRR and relevant SDG targets by: enhancing the understanding of disaster risk; fostering resilience through industrial accident prevention and preparedness; and providing a governance mechanism for regional cooperation to address transboundary DRR. In order to highlight the Convention’s contributions in this regard, the UNECE launched a video titled ‘From Sandoz to Sendai.’ [UNECE News Story] [From Sandoz to Sendai Video]

Additionally, UNISDR released a set of guidelines for national disaster risk assessment in order to support implementation by countries of the Sendai Framework for DRR. [Words into Action Guidelines: National Disaster Risk Assessment][SDG Knowledge Hub Summary of Guidelines]

IDDR, held every 13 October, celebrates people and communities reducing exposure to disasters. The UN General Assembly (UNGA) called for the IDDR in 1989 in order to promote a “global culture of risk-awareness and disaster reduction.” [International Day for Disaster Reduction Website] [IDDR 2017 Website]


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