The ongoing typhoon season in the Pacific, which has wrought havoc in the Philippines and Japan, underscores the increasing global threat posed by extreme weather events and critical need for risk management to prepare and respond to such disasters, according to a senior United Nations official and Green Cross International.
“Our hearts go out to the people who have lost loved ones and homes in the Philippines due to Typhoons Nalgae and Nesta,” said Alexander Likhotal, President of Green Cross International, the global NGO dealing with the nexus between environment, security and poverty. “As extreme weather events like typhoons are becoming more frequent and severe, it is essential governments and communities intensify measures to enhance disaster risk management and preparedness.”
Vladimir Sakharov, the environmental services section chief of the Geneva-based UNEP/OCHA Emergency Partnership, said natural disasters like those currently experienced in the Pacific underscore the need for increased expenditure in disaster management.
“The international community spends a huge amount of money in response to natural disasters, instead of concentrating on a comprehensive risk management and preparedness,” Mr Sakharov said during a presentation at the recently held annual board meeting of Green Cross International.”The increasing number and strength of extreme weather events and other emergencies means that more people, potentially, are threatened by such disasters. Adequate measures should be taken worldwide to make communities safer.”
Governments can take actions including emergency preparedness training, developing early warning and information systems, as well as considering the location and structural resilience of different infrastructure so not to locate them in disaster prone areas, such as low-lying coastal zones, or ensure buildings are designed and built to withstand natural hazards.
Mr Sakharov said: “Future generations will hold us accountable for how we respond to critical issues like disaster preparedness and prevention.”
It is estimated that more than 200 million people are affected annually by various emergencies including natural disasters, underlining the pressing need to ensure communities are designed for and able to respond to such events.
“No matter how wealthy and advanced a country is today, all are at risk from the dangers posed by cyclones, typhoons and other extreme weather events,” said Mr Likhotal. “Governments at all levels must pay heed to what nature is saying and be ready to cope with the ferocious forces associated with such events and our changing climate.”
Green Cross International, founded by Mikhail Gorbachev, is an independent non-profit and nongovernmental organization working to address the inter-connected global challenges of security, poverty eradication and environmental degradation through a combination of high-level advocacy and local projects. GCI is headquartered in Geneva and has a growing network of national organisations in over 30 countries.
Director of Communications
Green Cross International