Dealing with Disasters and Climate Change

5/12/2008 // Norway underlined the vital importance of swift and constructive action on development, disaster risk reduction and adaptation to climate change on the road from Bali to Copenhagen, and beyond, in a statement at the 16th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) 6 May 2008.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to take the opportunity today to focus on an issue that we consider central to the discussions at this CSD cycle, namely how to establish an integrated and cross-sectoral approach to adaptation to climate change and disaster risk reduction.

In this connection, I would like to share some insights from the recent Oslo Policy Forum conference “Changing the Way We Develop: Dealing with disasters and climate change”. The conference, which was jointly organised by UNDP, ProVention and Norway, was held in Oslo this February. We believe that the conclusions of the conference provide important input for preparing the ground for next year’s CSD policy decisions.

The primary objective of both adaptation to climate change and disaster risk reduction efforts must be to build resilience and adaptive capacity in vulnerable communities. This work must be based upon people-centred activities that provide simple, proven cost-effective ways to reduce damage and losses within relatively short time frames.

The expected increase in exposure to climate-related events over the coming years makes it imperative to improve communication between disaster risk reduction and climate change experts.

It is also vital to bring the development and climate agendas together. We will not be able to reach an effective agreement in Copenhagen next year unless the developing countries are on board. They include countries that are producing an increasing share of the world’s greenhouse gases. It is particularly important that we get Africa, the continent that is most vulnerable to climate change, on board.
 
This means that we have to reduce the widespread distrust in the South regarding the climate change agenda through real improvements in terms of poverty alleviation, health care, access to food, security and so on.

However, national governments must take the main responsibility for defining and developing procedures and measures for strengthening disaster risk reduction. And an integrated approach to adaptation to climate change and disaster risk reduction needs to be mainstreamed into key sectoral policies, such as agriculture, energy, natural resource management and urban development. Of course, these measures must be based on the principles of good governance. The primary objective in all these areas should be to improve the situation of the poor and the most vulnerable groups, including children and women.

Building capacity within civil society, such as community-based organisations, is a key factor. It is also important to build on existing collaborative initiatives such as South-South networks, private-public sector partnerships and diverse multi-stakeholder platforms and alliances, and utilise these to improve the dialogue between climate and disaster risk reduction experts. 

Last, but not least, governments and other actors at all levels must explore and adopt innovative financing mechanisms, such as market-based solutions, to ensure consistent support for longer-term programming, and to draw effectively on private sector and other resources. Donors should seek harmonised approaches to adaptation to climate change and disaster risk reduction, in line with the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness.

To conclude, I would like to underline the vital importance of swift and constructive action on development, disaster risk reduction and adaptation to climate change on the road from Bali to Copenhagen, and beyond. As a forum that brings together a broad range of participants from different sectors, the CSD is an important platform for making real progress towards the MDGs. With this in mind, we hope, therefore, that over the next two weeks we can prepare solid ground for next year’s CSD policy session.

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