GENEVA, 16 July 2021-The UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative
for Disaster Risk Reduction, Mami Mizutori, today extended her condolences to
all those affected by the current severe floods across Europe and urged greater
investment in disaster risk reduction against a natural hazard which, until
the arrival of COVID-19, has typically affected more people annually than
any other disaster type.
“I send my heartfelt condolences to the people and governments of Germany
and Belgium where lives have been lost and my sympathy is also with the people
of the Netherlands, France, Luxembourg and Switzerland on the disruption
caused by these record rains. Lives, homes, and livelihoods have been lost
in a flood event of such magnitude that people had difficulty in comprehending
what action they could take to protect themselves from it.
“Europe has seen major flooding before but rarely on this scale and with
such harrowing loss of life. This underlines the importance of getting to grips
with measures to adapt cities, towns and rural areas to the shocks that arise
to our weather systems in a warming world. We need to make our urban areas
more resilient to floods and storms to mitigate the impacts of large volumes
of water and the landslides that usually accompany such phenomena.
“I am particularly concerned about media reports that in at least one incident
nine persons living with disabilities lost their lives. National and local strategies
for disaster risk reduction must take full account of the needs of such persons as
well as others who may have mobility issues including older persons, children, and
pregnant women. It is essential that disability organizations are involved in the
disaster management planning process.
“While linking one disaster event with climate change is complicated, it is undoubtedly
the case that over the last twenty years of record-breaking temperatures there has
been a concomitant rise in the number of extreme weather events across the globe. The
challenge before us is not just to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but to invest in
adaptation to save lives, reduce economic losses and protect critical infrastructure.
“Europe will meet later this year in Portugal to discuss progress on implementing
the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the global plan to reduce disaster
losses. That discussion will be an opportunity to reflect on the lessons learned from
the tragic events now unfolding across Europe due to record heavy rains and to see how
we can better adapt to climate change, improve multi-hazard early warning systems and
strengthen public understanding of disaster risk.”
United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction
Provided by the IKCEST Disaster Risk Reduction Knowledge Service System