Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Assistance at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement on the International Day for Disaster Reduction on 13 October:
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a stark reminder for us all of how important it is to be prepared in the event of a disaster. In the future, we will have to work in a much more precise manner to identify risks in advance. This also means developing systems that cushion the humanitarian impact of disasters.
We have seen that disasters do not stop at national borders. Disaster risk reduction is therefore a task for the entire international community. We must coordinate our efforts even better and promote international cooperation. The better disaster risk reduction is, the more lives we can save and the more human suffering we can prevent.
Such anticipatory humanitarian assistance is already being put into practice – for example during recent floods in Bangladesh where timely joint action was able to avert the most devastating impacts and humanitarian emergencies to a certain extent.
An increase in such extreme weather events has already led to a heightened awareness of such risks in recent years. We must prepare ourselves for the fact that, due to climate change, such natural disasters will occur more frequently in the future – all around the world. The approaches we are developing in this regard must now be applied to other risk situations, from armed conflicts to food security.
In 1989, the United Nations declared 13 October International Day for Disaster Reduction in order to raise public awareness of the issue.
Seventy-five percent of natural disasters are now caused by extreme weather events. Improving adaptation to the growing risks posed by extreme weather is therefore a priority of the Federal Foreign Office’s humanitarian assistance. Humanitarian partners receive support to help them prepare more effectively for such events.
An important element of the package of measures is anticipatory humanitarian assistance, which implements measures based on concrete extreme weather forecasts and risk analyses before disasters occur. The aim of this approach is to predict impending extreme weather disasters more accurately and to reduce their impact and prevent human suffering.
The Federal Foreign Office has been active in the field of disaster risk reduction since 1981 and will continue to promote and expand innovative approaches to disaster risk reduction around the world.