Topic: Disaster Risk Reduction
Committee: UNITED NATIONS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME (UNDP)
Natural disasters have caused over 730,000 deaths, 1.9 million injuries, and the displacement of 15 million in just the past ten years, according to the The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Additionally, these disasters cost nations an estimated $175 billion in 2016, which is not just a threat to human welfare, but also a threat to the economic welfare of many nations. According to the 2017 World Economic Forum’s Global Risk report, extreme weather events are the most prominent global risk in likelihood and potential impact. The United Nations Development Programme has also recognized natural disasters as a significant threat, and therefore has recommended the immediate need for disaster risk reduction, in order to lower the impact of such destructive disasters. The UNDP has also called for greater national preparedness in order to lower the resulting effect of such disasters when they inevitably do occur. To combat this serious issue, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction was created, which outlined goals and strategies in which disaster risk reduction could be achieved. Additionally, the Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction (GAR), a biennial report on international disaster risk, helps provide countries with crucial information on disaster risk reduction in order to inform them of risks and thereby possible solutions in which to combat and prevent disasters. But still more needs to be done. According to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), only 0.4% of money allocated toward international aid is used for disaster preparation and risk reduction.
Japan, having had a long and perilous history with severe natural disasters, (most notably typhoons, tsunamis, and earthquakes) has recognized the need for improved disaster risk reduction tactics and also increased preparedness for natural disasters. This has been done through many methods, such as through research initiatives and projects which give crucial data to scientists predicting the occurrence and magnitude of natural disasters; the building and reinforcement of infrastructure to protect against disasters, such as Tokyo’s Water Discharge Tunnel and laws that enforce earthquake-proof standards on houses, schools, and office buildings; recovery operations to help protect citizens during disasters; and the improvement of communication systems, such as the development of smartphone regulations so that just before an earthquake, every smartphone warns its user of the impending crisis.
In order to increase disaster risk reduction internationally, the delegation of Japan suggests two main things: first, the implementation of nature-based solutions in order to help reduce the probability of disasters, but also as a cost-effective method to protect populations when a disaster does inevitably strike. For example, the preservation and creation of forests can help stabilize hills and prevent landslides; plant life along coasts, along with natural land formations such as sand dunes help limit the effect of storm surges and wind storms; and coral reefs can reduce the impact of tidal storms. These natural solutions also help lower carbon emissions – one of the main reasons for the exacerbation of natural disasters. The effectiveness of natural-based solutions can be seen through their success in nations which have already implemented them. For example, in the Philippines, when Typhoon Haiyan hit, mangrove forests were attributed to saving the lives of many, and consequently, USD $22 million was allocated for the restoration of mangrove forests. Additionally, after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, Japan created the Sanriku Fukko Reconstruction park, rather than expanding coastal walls, saving an estimated JPY 2.5 billion. Secondly, the delegation of Japan suggests the improvement of communication systems, as well as recovery operations. By harnessing already-present radio facilities, present in 75% of developing nations, warnings could be issued prior to a disaster striking, giving citizens time to prepare. Along with this, mandatory drills should be set in place so as to prepare schoolchildren. Volunteers should be educated and taught how to effectively and efficiently act in disaster situations. In these two ways, disaster risk reduction could be achieved internationally, and tens of thousands of lives would be saved.
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- Christopher Mojares