UNISDR, Columbia University Convene Dialogue on Disaster-Resilient Society

12 April 2012: The UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), Columbia University, the Permanent Mission of Japan to the UN, and the Urban Climate Change Research Network convened a dialogue titled “From Sendai to Rio - Cultivating a Disaster-Resilient Society for Sustainable Development,” which addressed the significance of building climate and disaster resilience in coastal cities.  

Participants to the dialogue, which took place in New York, US, from 11-12 April 2012, considered two topics, namely: building climate and disaster resilience in coastal cities; and a disaster risk reduction (DRR) and sustainable development framework.

Elizabeth Thompson, Executive Coordinator, UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20), noted that the goal of Rio+20 is to identify new ways in which disasters are impeding sustainable development. She said Rio+20 will focus on strengthening disaster response and committing to implementation of the international blueprint for risk reduction, the Hyogo Framework for Action to build resilience at national level. Thompson also predicted that Rio+20 will see agreement on action to catalyze a global green economy, which is expected to increase resilience to disasters.

Margareta Wahlström, the UN Secretary General's Special Representative for Disaster Reduction, drew attention to disaster losses this century, which she said were already in excess of a trillion dollars. She also underscored the impact on poverty reduction when disasters destroy schools, homes and health facilities, and wash away roads.

Participants also heard a presentation from the New York Mayor's Office on the climate risks faced by New Yorkers, including floods, and the city's investment programme in green infrastructure. In addition, a member of Parliament for Dhaka, Bangladesh, stressed his country's vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, including cyclones and sea level rise. [UNISDR Press Release]