Press Releases

         28 September 2005

    Secretary-General, in Message to Asian Conference on Disaster Reduction, Underscores Need for Sustained Political, Financial Commitment

    Sustainable Development Also Needed to Reduce Vulnerability, He Says

    NEW YORK, 27 September (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's message to the Asian Conference on Disaster Reduction in Beijing today, 27 September, as delivered by Salvano Briceño, Director of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction:

    When representatives of 168 countries assembled last January in Kobe for the World Conference on Disaster Reduction, they did not need to be reminded that all countries are threatened by natural disasters.  Just a month earlier -- indeed, nine months ago today -- a devastating tsunami laid a path of wanton destruction across the breadth of the Indian Ocean, taking some 200,000 lives and causing billions of dollars in damage.

    The recent tragedy that has befallen the Gulf Coast of the United States of America has only driven home once more the vulnerability of all human societies to natural disasters, and the need to reduce that vulnerability by action at all levels.

    It was clear to all in Kobe that greater political will and financial commitment are required to defend our societies.  To this end, the Conference adopted the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015, which provides a comprehensive road map for building resilient nations and communities.

    Less than two weeks ago, the more than 150 world leaders who gathered in New York for the 2005 World Summit sustained that momentum by pledging to work expeditiously towards the establishment of a worldwide early warning system for all natural hazards with regional nodes.  I am pleased that a trust fund, to be managed by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, was launched earlier this week in Bangkok, to support a regional tsunami early warning system.

    World leaders also reaffirmed the international commitment to fully implement the Hyogo Framework, laying particular stress on the need for assistance to developing countries prone to natural disasters.  You -- the representatives of 29 Asian States and the disaster risk-reduction experts gathered here in Beijing -- will continue your discussion on how the political and financial commitments made in Kobe can be translated into concrete action at the regional, national and local levels.

    I wish you all the best in these important discussions.  Achieving real progress requires sustained political and financial commitment, the adoption of a holistic approach, and the promotion of sustainable development in order to reduce vulnerability.  For its part, the United Nations will continue to work with all our partners in this vital effort to strengthen communities and save lives.

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