UN/ISDR Head Calls for Urgent Action on DRR

24 January 2011: Margareta Wahlström, the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Disaster Reduction and head of the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UN/ISDR), has called on local governments, city leaders and their partners to “act now” to incorporate climate change adaptation into urban planning.

In light of recent widespread flooding across the world, Wahlström stressed that disaster risk reduction (DRR) is a strategic and technical tool for helping national and local governments to fulfil their responsibilities to citizens. She added that "weather-related disasters are sure to rise in the future, due to factors that include climate change." Referring to the data provided by the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), Wahlström outlined the disaster trends for 2010, highlighting that: the Americas was the world's worst affected continent, due to the Haiti earthquake; over a fifth of 2010's disaster-related deaths occurred in Europe due to the Russian heat wave; extreme climatic events in Europe included Storm Xynthia, heavy floods in France, and the extreme winter conditions all over Europe in December 2010; approximately 89% of all people affected by disasters in 2010 live in Asia; and the costliest event in 2010 was the Chilean earthquake in February, which cost US$30 billion in disaster damage. [UN/ISDR Press Release]