Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, issued the following statement marking International Day for Disaster Reduction today (13 October):
All too often even just in recent weeks, we have heard and read about natural disasters and the human suffering they cause: the hurricanes in the Caribbean, the flooding in Bangladesh, the severe earthquakes in Mexico. Of course, we cannot prevent these natural disasters, but we can ease the humanitarian impact on the people affected and help them to prepare better for such eventualities.
We cannot wait until a disaster has happened before we respond. The majority of disasters do not come as a surprise. We can help in advance to prevent suffering!
Today's International Day for Disaster Reduction serves as a reminder. We must bring down the number of people affected by such disasters. By reducing risks and strengthening resilience in areas which are at risk, we can save lives and alleviate suffering.
This is something the international community can only do together. We need to coordinate our efforts to reduce disaster risk better and promote concrete cooperation. After all, natural disasters pay no heed to international borders.
The ongoing implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 plays an important role here. The Agreement identified concrete and verifiable targets to be used to judge our efforts. Germany is one of the countries leading the field here and together with experienced partners is engaged in preventive action in high-risk countries. We are helping our humanitarian partners above all to make better use of predictions of imminent disasters to enable them to reduce the risks in advance.
We are also working intensively to protect people forced to leave their homes due to natural disasters or the impact of climate change. Here, it is Germany together with Bangladesh who holds the chair in the Platform on Disaster Displacement.
We must continue to do our utmost because disaster risk reduction can prevent human suffering. This is a point I will be emphasising once more at this year's national conference on disaster risk reduction on Monday in Berlin and in my meeting with Robert Glasser, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction.
In 1989 the United Nations declared 13 October International Day for Disaster Reduction. The idea behind this day is to encourage all citizens and governments to get involved in building resilient communities and nations which can withstand disasters. The Federal Foreign Office has long since been engaged in disaster risk reduction. In 2013, the Federal Foreign Office launched the Preparedness Initiative and the Principles of Preparedness were subsequently adopted on 11 June 2013 at the International Preparedness Conference in Berlin. The Principles focus in particular on the individual role of the various players and their responsibility in the sphere of humanitarian disaster risk reduction.
All elements of disaster risk reduction are guided by the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction adopted in 2015.
Germany was actively involved in shaping the Agreement. It provides clear guidelines on how countries and civil societies around the world can avert the emergence of new disaster risks, strengthen the resilience of populations and institutions to crises and natural disasters, and reduce existing risks – among other things through effective disaster risk reduction and preparedness measures. At national level, the annual specialist conference on disaster risk reduction provides the forum for exchanging views on the subject. This year's conference is to be held in Berlin on 16 October 2017.