UNGA Debates Incorporating DRR into Rio+20 Outcomes

12 April 2012: The President of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, recently held a thematic debate on disaster risk reduction (DRR) focused on: addressing urban risk through public investment; and increasing resilience to disasters through climate adaptation and risk reduction. Participants also attended a side-event on comprehensive action to sustainably reduce vulnerabilities.

The debate, which took place on 12 April 2012, in New York, US, brought together representatives from national and local governments, the humanitarian community, academia, the private sector and the UN system.

Opening the debate, Abdulaziz Al-Nasser underscored that addressing DRR is “inseparable from the broader sustainable development agenda.” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted that disasters exacerbate poverty and undermine development planning, particularly poverty reduction strategies. As governments prepare for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20), he invited participants to “affirm that DRR is critical to sustainable development.”

Ibrahim Thiaw, Director, UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Division of Environmental Policy Implementation, stressed the importance of investing in ecosystems. He explained that management of forests, coral reefs and seagrasses, wetlands and other ecosystems could reduce disaster risks as these ecosystems act as natural buffers against common hazards and support livelihoods. UNEP also underscored the need to maximize shared priorities among the DRR, climate change adaptation and sustainable development agendas, adding that this integrated approach should be reinforced at Rio+20.

The two panel discussions were moderated throughout the day by Margareta Wahlström, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction and Head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR). She summarized the key threads of the discussions and informed that a Chair's summary from the office of the UNGA President will be available as a contribution to the debate at Rio+20. [UN Secretary-General's Message] [UNEP Press Release] [Ibrahim Thiaw's Statement] [UN Press Release] [UNGA President Webpage on DRR] [UNISDR Press Release]