Helen Clark: Statement on Natural Disasters and Climate Change: Managing Risks and Crises Differently

May 24, 2016

Haime tallies trucks hauling debris from the storm's devestation at Santo Nino. Photo: Lesley Wright, UNDP Philippines

Thank you. I will now make a statement on behalf of the UN system.

Many of you have highlighted that to realize Agenda 2030 and achieve the SDGs, risks must be better managed and resilience must be built. I could not agree more. We cannot afford to allow today’s investments in people and in economies to be lost by tomorrow’s disasters. The Sendai Framework and Paris Agreement will be central to all of our work in this regard.

The UN is committed to doing its part, and I am pleased to share some of our commitments with you now.

First, the UN Chief Executive Board level recently adopted a revised UN Plan of Action on Disaster Risk Reduction for Resilience.  The plan will strengthen system-wide coherence through a risk-informed and integrated approach; build the UN system capacity to deliver co-ordinated, high quality support to countries; and maintain disaster risk reduction as a strategic priority for UN organizations.

Second, OCHA, FAO, WFP, UNDP, and the World Bank are very pleased to join the V20 in a Global Preparedness Partnership (GPP). The goal of this innovative partnership is to help countries reach an essential level of preparedness to disasters and other shocks so that negative impacts can be minimized and development gains safeguarded. There is clear evidence that investments in preparedness reduce loss of life and economic impacts due to disasters, as well as the overall cost of disaster response. The GPP puts at-risk countries in the driving seat and avoids fragmentation of support to countries by joining up the work of humanitarian and development actors. It seeks to end insufficient and ad-hoc financing of preparedness. I commend the Philippines which serves as the Chair of the V20 for its leadership on the GPP, and I urge all of you to support it.  

Third, the UN is committed to strengthening our engagement with the private sector to help countries better manage disaster risks. One example of that is the Insurance Development Forum, a new public-private partnership which I am honored to co-chair alongside Stephen Catlin from the insurance industry and Joachim Levy from the World Bank. With the support of OCHA, UNISDR, WFP and others, we hope that this Forum will succeed in optimizing and extending the use of insurance-related facilities to protect vulnerable populations, companies, and public institutions against risks and shocks. I understand that more innovative partnerships such as this will be discussed over the course of the Summit, including at the special session on connecting businesses later today.

Strong, effective partnerships will be critical to achieve the ambitions of this Summit and Agenda 2030. This is why UNDP is actively working to align our partners’ DRR portfolios under the umbrella of 5-10-50 to achieve disaster resilience in fifty countries over ten years in five critical areas.

As we bring this roundtable to a close, let us carry forward the momentum generated today. We all have important roles to play, and the UN is committed to doing its part, working closely with partners, to contribute to a risk-informed, sustainable future for us all.

I now give the floor to Ertharin Cousin for her concluding remarks.


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