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EC Promotes Resilience of Disaster-Prone Communities

European Union29 April 2014: The first EU Resilience Forum assessed progress made on resilience, exchanged best practices and lessons learned, and laid the foundation for further reducing vulnerabilities in risk-prone environments. Specifically, the event aimed to: serve as a catalyst for efforts to support people in areas facing repeated disasters or conflicts; prepare for, withstand and recover from stresses and shocks; and address root causes of disasters and conflicts, rather than only dealing with their consequences.

The Forum brought together representatives from both the humanitarian and development communities, including EU member States, the UN, the Red Cross, the World Bank, NGOs and civil society, and donors, such as the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID). The Forum, which was organized by the EC's departments for Development and Cooperation (DEVCO) and Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection, met on 28 April 2014, in Brussels, Belgium.

Based on the recognition of the growing importance of resilience due to the increasing frequency and intensity of natural and man-made disasters in recent years, the Forum addressed building resilience through, inter alia: cash transfer programmes for the poorest households in drought-prone areas; early warning systems; disaster insurance; improved delivery of health care services; and enhanced quality, scope and coverage of social safety nets. According to the EU, in 2013, over 20% of the EC's relief funding went for disaster risk reduction (DRR), and two-thirds of its humanitarian projects included DRR activities and reached 18 million people worldwide.

In her address to the Forum, Helen Clark, UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator, underscored that the increasing importance given to building resilience to risk stems from the growing understanding of the interlinkages among poverty, crisis and conflict. She emphasized the importance of “transforming the structures and systems that repeatedly perpetuate fragility and undermine resilience.” Clark focused on three lessons learned from UNDP's work: building resilience requires integrating risk management approaches; resilience involves the capacity to anticipate potential change, disruption and calamity, and to construct timely and appropriate prevention responses; and weak institutions and societies under stress exacerbate vulnerability, and their strengthening must be a long-term endeavor. She urged the EU to consider expanding funding for comprehensive resilience work in crisis contexts. In concluding, she said UNDP sees DRR and climate change adaptation as "two sides of the same coin," and that the 2014 Human Development Report will emphasize reducing vulnerabilities and building resilience. [Resilience Forum Website] [EC Memo on Forum] [Statement of UNDP Administrator Helen Clark]