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UN General Assembly Holds Disaster Reduction Debate

9 February 2011: The UN General Assembly (UNGA) convened a one-day thematic debate on disaster risk reduction (DRR) on 9 February 2011, in New York, US, which included two panels on "invest today for a safer tomorrow," and "addressing the challenges of disaster risk in urban settings."

Organized by the office of the UNGA President Joseph Deiss, with the support of the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UN/ISDR), the debate aimed to encourage governments to invest in effective DRR efforts, and to build resilience in rapidly expanding urban areas, where risk, population and economic assets are concentrated.

Addressing the Assembly, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed that countries that incorporate climate adaptation and DRR into their budgets and development planning are “better placed to protect hard-won development gains and accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).” Looking forward to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD or Rio+20) scheduled to take place in 2012, he underscored that “reducing risk and building resilience will be essential,” underscoring that “reducing disaster risk is a job for all.”

Assistant Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction Margareta Wahlström also addressed the debate, emphasizing the role played by early warning systems in reducing death tolls of disasters over the past 20 years, but highlighting that economic losses from disasters continue to increase.

Outcomes from the thematic debate will inform the third session of the third Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, scheduled to convene from 8-13 May 2011, in Geneva, Switzerland. [UN/ISDR Press Release] [UNGA President Statement] [UN Secretary-General's Statement] [UNGA Press Release] [UN Press Release]