Key issues: Emergency Preparedness

As more people and assets are located in areas of high risk, there is an increasing need for measures taken at national and local levels to improve risk management and preparedness for various disasters. New investments must incorporate disaster risk reduction and mitigation measures, otherwise exposure to risk will continue to rise.

In order to meet sustainable development goals, risk management and preparedness must address, in particular, the environmental aspects of disasters and accidents such as ecological degradation, pollution, and disaster waste. Properly maintained industrial sites, together with well-prepared adjacent communities and protected ecosystems, can contribute to cost-effective disaster risk reduction and local resilience.Communities and local people are at the forefront of responding to various emergencies, including man-made disasters like industrial and technological accidents). Reducing risk at the local level therefore is fundamental. The importance of involving local governments and communities in the design and implementation of preparedness measures is generally recognized.But such practice is far from being universally applied. Particularly local authorities in less wealthy nations have limited resources and many competing needs (e.g., education, access to safe drinking water, housing, etc). Despite this, very little assistance is provided to local governments for disaster risk management. A much greater outreach at local and community levels is clearly needed, as adequate disaster preparedness at local level is among the tools required for facilitating the process of sustainable development. It is universally recognized that effective preparedness can save lives and money.While preparedness is everybody’s responsibility, civil society and NGOs have a prominent role in building capacities of local authorities and communities. Currently there is no comprehensive international risk management system, including for such important actors as civil society and NGOs. Taking into account a strong international trend to assist communities in developing countries with preparedness to environmental emergencies, there is a clear need to introduce an additional important element in the nexus of security, environment and poverty in the form of a new GCI project on Environmental Emergencies Preparedness.The issue of emergency preparedness is too large to be addressed by any single entity, and requires concerted efforts of all sectors of an increasingly interconnected global society. Therefore, the GCI Environmental Emergencies Preparedness project will be implemented in close cooperation with United Nations partners such as UNEP and OCHA to create a synergy and comprehensive system on preparedness for environmental emergencies. UNEP and OCHA are developing special tools such as Awareness and Preparedness for Emergencies at Local Level (APELL) and Environmental Emergencies Centre (EEC) to assist communities in preventing and preparing for disasters. Another important partner is the Global Fire Monitoring Centre (GFMC), which is active in building local capacities on preparedness for forest fires.The project would generate a broader involvement of civil society, concerned industries, private sector and corporate associations in international efforts to address risk management and preparedness for environmental emergencies. It is expected that, as a result of the implementation of the proposed project, local capacities would be significantly reinforced to enable them to adequately respond to emergencies without the need for international assistance.The new project will be managed by GCI and implemented jointly with its National Organizations. Related activities will be carried out through networking, creating synergies, exchanging information and best practices, consultations, providing access to specialized expertise and knowledge, initiating and implementing capacity building projects at local level, convening conferences and workshops, and carrying out training courses and simulation exercises.Image thanks to The Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED)Related content: