In this file photo dated Aug 10, 2022, a silhouette of a firefighter is pictured during a wildfire in Manteigas, central Portugal. (PHOTO / AFP)
UNITED NATIONS – The UN warned Thursday that insufficient global progress in disaster risk reduction is jeopardizing the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, and called for more concerted efforts to address the issue effectively.
"Our world is at a defining point in history. As we review our journey halfway to 2030, we must acknowledge that progress has been weak and insufficient," UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed told the General Assembly on Thursday.
Representatives of countries are gathering at the UN headquarters in New York to review progress on implementing the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction – a landmark 2015 agreement to reduce damage, losses and deaths from natural and man-made hazards by the end of the decade.
As countries did not meet climate and sustainable development commitments, natural disasters that could have been prevented have claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and forced millions to be uprooted, mainly women, children, and other vulnerable groups, said Mohammed.
In this file photo taken on June 23, 2022, a Chevron gas station displays the price per gallon at over US$7 in Los Angeles. US consumer price inflation surged 9.1 percent over the past 12 months to June, the fastest increase since November 1981, according to government data released on July 13, 2022. Driven by record-high gasoline prices, the consumer price index jumped 1.3 percent in June, the Labor Department reported. (PHOTO / AFP)
The situation has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the "triple crisis" of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution, the rising cost of living, skyrocketing inequality and the Ukraine crisis, she added.
As countries did not meet climate and sustainable development commitments, natural disasters that could have been prevented have claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and forced millions to be uprooted, mainly women, children, and other vulnerable groups, said UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed
The high-ranking UN official continued to note that further threats stem from structural governance omissions within the banking and global financial systems, while scientists warn of cascading and irreversible impacts of global warming."
Addressing these challenges means changing our response to risk through systemic thinking, collaborative action, and the smart, agile deployment of responses to prevent, manage and mitigate global risks," she said.
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For General Assembly President Csaba Korosi, the midterm review was the "last chance before 2030 to collectively change course," underscoring the critical need for action.
Korosi noted that recent events, such as the earthquake in Türkiye and Syria, as well as the devastating Cyclone Mocha in Myanmar and Bangladesh, have demonstrated that "disasters know no borders."
Addressing disaster risks and bolstering resilience have become "a priority for all countries," irrespective of their geographic location, he added.
Reflecting on the progress made since the adoption of the Sendai Framework in 2015, Korosi acknowledged that the international community's efforts have not kept pace with the urgency of the current situation, calling for "a fundamental reevaluation" of the decision-making processes and systems.
He emphasized the need to align global actions with the finite nature of natural resources and to account for the true costs of the choices of countries.
In this file photo dated June 30, 2022, people wearing face masks to protect against COVID-19 ride a subway in Paris. (PHOTO / AP)
Korosi also stressed the importance of shifting away from profit-driven approaches and towards "inclusive and sustainable development."
Reflecting on the progress made since the adoption of the Sendai Framework in 2015, General Assembly President Csaba Korosi acknowledged that the international community's efforts have not kept pace with the urgency of the current situation, calling for "a fundamental reevaluation" of the decision-making processes and systems
Mami Mizutori, the head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, noted that it has not been all storm and strife since 2015.
For example, she said, a growing number of governments have established or upgraded national loss accounting systems, and there has been a significant increase in the number of countries with national strategies for disaster risk reduction.
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However, progress remains unequal. Risks that become disasters continue to disproportionately impact the world's least developed countries, small island developing states, landlocked developing and African countries, as well as middle-income countries, Mizutori said.
With risks left unattended and disasters outpacing our capacity to manage, the consequences for individuals, communities, and ecosystems are becoming increasingly severe, said Mizutori, noting that "the imperative to realize the outcome, goal and targets of the Sendai Framework is more important today than ever before."
This point was further emphasized by Mustafa Kemal Kilinc from Türkiye, who survived the devastating earthquake in February that killed upwards of 50,000 people.
"I am here today because our building did not collapse. This is because our contractor had applied high standards to make our building earthquake resistant," said the 23-year-old university student.
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"We cannot predict natural disasters. But we can certainly be prepared whenever and wherever they happen," he said. "I hope that as a result of your work, there will be fewer disaster victims like me around the world."