Working Together for Sustainable Development
Climate change has sparked a dramatic rise in natural disasters around the world, with over-population, unplanned urbanisation and poor development policy all fuelling the problem, European Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva said.
‘It is the change in climate conditions that is driving numbers of disasters, on average, up,’ she said at a high-level panel during the EU's European Development Days event in Brussels. ‘It is very clear that we will not win the war against hunger, we will not win the war against malnutrition, we will not eradicate poverty, unless we integrate disaster risk management as a priority,’ she said.
Joe Costello, Trade Minister of Ireland which will hold the EU's rotating presidency from January 1, said that many of the advances made in delivering development assistance were being eroded due to the increasing frequency of natural disasters. Risk management, he said, must be factored into planning.
‘We need to strengthen our resilience to disasters by linking relief, rehabilitation and development," he told the panel on Disaster Risk Reduction in an Age of Climate Change. ‘Secondly, we need to strengthen partnerships and work better together. Thirdly, we need to realise that the most important stakeholders are the local people living in the environments at risk.’
Members of the panel praised the way that Bangladesh, Mozambique and Nepal were preparing themselves in advance to tackle flooding or landslides, and they suggested that others at risk – and nations in the North – should learn from their example.
Casimero Abreu, Deputy Director of Mozambique's INGC national disaster management centre, warned of the dangers of individual countries disbursing their own aid in an uncoordinated way. This, he said, had created huge aid management challenges in times of disaster. Mozambique set up a centralised national emergency centre where ‘we plan the rational use of resources, of human resources, financial resources. Because it's no good if everyone does their own thing,’ he said.
Nepal faces a huge challenge in mobilising the resources needed to reduce the impact of disasters. The Executive Director of Nepal's Red Cross Society, Umesh Dhakal, called for a more holistic approach in the country, involving water, sanitation and health policy to properly armour communities against potential disasters. Discussion also turned to the use of the military, with Masato Watanabe, the Vice-President of Japan's International Cooperation Agency (JICA) highlighting the army's important work during the disaster in Japan, and recently in Aceh in Indonesia.
The President of Bangladesh's Institute for Peace and Security, A N M Muniruzzaman, said that in his country ‘army platoons have secondary missions of disaster management in addition to their defence role. When anything happens, they are integrated into its management.’
Joe Costello, Minister for Trade and Development, Ireland
Manuel Bessler, Head of Swiss Humanitarian Aid Department
Lakshmi Dhakal, Joint Secretary from Ministry of Home Affairs, Nepal
Umesh Dhakal, Executive Director, Nepal Red Cross Society
Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response
Casimiro Abreu, Deputy Director General, Nacional de Gestao
de Calamidades - INGC - Mozambique
A N M Muniruzzaman, President of the Bangladesh Institute for Peace and Security
Masato Watanabe, Vice-President, Japan International Cooperation Agency – JICA
Moderator: Madeleen Helmer, Director Policies and Communication, Red Cross Climate Centre
This High-Level Panel was organized by the European Commission, European Community Humanitarian Office – ECHO, European Network of Political Foundations – ENOP, Red Cross / EU Office – RC EU