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:
Disaster reduction is essential for survival.
Last year brutally confronted us with this fact. Flooding in the western part of Germany and the devastating wildfires in the Mediterranean region are only a few examples of disasters that struck close to home.
For some time now, it has become clear that the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events is increasing everywhere, also as a result of climate change. Particularly due to the universal nature of our responsibility to slow climate change, joint action is indispensable.
That is why we must join forces on a global scale and take decisive action to prevent natural disasters. I hope that the new German Government will assume a lead role in these efforts.
Specifically, this means we must strengthen the following three areas: first, focus on disaster risk awareness and early detection of hazards; second, better understand how disasters are mutually dependent, as well as how they overlap and amplify each other; and third, take disaster precautions and enhance disaster preparedness.
In 1989, the United Nations declared 13 October International Day for Disaster Reduction in order to raise public awareness of the issue.
According to the World Disaster Report, 83% of all disasters in the last decade were caused by extreme weather events, with the effects being aggravated not least by climate change. 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 municipalities in regions that are particularly vulnerable to extreme weather events better prepare for such events.
An important element of the package of measures is anticipatory humanitarian assistance, which takes early action based on concrete forecasts and risk analyses. The aim of this approach is to predict impending disasters more accurately and minimise their impact. This policy has already proved effective on several occasions, for example in connection with flooding in Bangladesh or extreme winters in Mongolia. The Federal Foreign Office intends by 2023 to spend five percent of its humanitarian budget on anticipatory action.