High-Level Panel: Opening Statement by Ambassador Wittig on „The impact of environmental degradation on disasters"

Apr 25, 2013

(Statement as prepared for delivery by Ambassador Wittig at a high-level panel discussion on "The impact of environmental degradation on disasters – Inputs for the Post 2015 debate" hosted by Germany and Costa Rica)

"Excellencies, dear colleagues and friends,

Together with my colleague, Ambassador Weisleder from Costa Rica, I have the pleasure to welcome you all to the German House. A special welcome goes to Jordan Ryan, Assistant Administrator of UNDP, who has volunteered to lead us through today´s discussion. I further welcome Mr. Peter Mucke, President of the “Alliance Development Works” and co–author of the World Risk Report, our expert from the World Bank, as well as our panelists from the UN University and “The Nature Conervancy” who also contributed to the report.

Since the adoption of the Hyogo Framework for Action in 2005, the focus on building societies more resilient to disasters has grown significantly. The devastating effects of natural disasters such as the earthquake in Haiti, the floods in Pakistan or hurrican Sandy have reminded us not only, how vulnerable this world is, but also how important it is to invest in prevention and to solidly integrate disaster risk reduction into development efforts.

The compounding effects of climate change lead to further environmental degradation and prepare the ground for more frequent and more severe natural desasters. Against this backdrop, the need for more effective disaster risk reduction is even more pertinent.

At a time, when we are trying to shape “the future we want” in the discussions on the sustainable development goals and the post 2015 development agenda, the World Risk Report and our event today highlight the importance of effective disaster risk reduction for sustainable development.

While it is clear to us that building resilience will be a growing challenge for development partners, humanitarian actors also need to take on their responsibilities in this regard. We have sufficient scientific proof showing that early action and preparedness help reduce costs of the humanitarian response significantly. We also know that many natural disasters can be anticipated. Yet, too often humanitarian assistance remains reactive.

Under our Chairmanship of the "Good Humanitarian Donorship" initiative and the OCHA Donor Support Group, we have therefore launched a discussion on the two main elements humanitarians can contribute to the broader resilience agenda: early action and emergency prepardness. Discussions with major stakeholders - including many of you - have led to a set of best practices and recommendations which will be finalised at a Conference on Emergency Preparedness in June this year in Berlin. Thus, we hope to anchor the idea of a more forward-looking, proactive humanitarian system in the upcoming discussions of the post-Hyogo Framework and the World Humanitarian Summit in 2015.

Dear participants, I wish all of us an interesting and thought-provoking discussion. I now invite Ambassador Weisleder to say a few words."

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