Risk-sensitive economic planning and coherence between climate and disaster risk reduction (DRR) policies are vital in building resilient societies and economies as envisioned by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Ambassador A.L.A. Azeez stated. He made these remarks addressing the Sixth Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction held in Geneva from 13 to 17 May 2019.
Sri Lanka is taking a number of initiatives towards this end, he added, highlighting national measures to establish an online damage and loss assessment system for all sectors in line with international standards, a Climate-Resilient Integrated Water Management Project aimed at strengthening the resilience of vulnerable smallholder farmers in the dry zone, and a Climate Resilience Improvement Project focused on building a more climate-resilient economy.
“In Sri Lanka, national strategies for disaster risk reduction have been formulated for the period of 2019-2030 and the National Policy on Disaster Risk Management has been updated to enable risk-informed implementation and monitoring of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, the UN Urban Agenda and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.”
“Among specific measures taken or being taken are the introduction of an insurance scheme against natural disasters for all houses and Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs), National Building Codes for disaster-resilient construction, guidelines to mainstream disaster risk reduction, and mainstreaming DRR into the education sector,” he stated.
Referring to the devastating Easter Sunday terrorist attacks which he said was the manifestation of a global phenomenon that was often a less-highlighted form of disaster in the context of DRR discourses, Ambassador Azeez recalled that Sri Lanka has always demonstrated its ability to rise stronger from both natural and complex man-made disasters in the past decades.
“Our national efforts are now focused on how best and how rapidly we could rise again. In the coming months, we would bounce back with renewed vigor, and emerge even stronger, demonstrating our collective resolve and resilience,” he stressed.
The Global Platform, organised by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) and hosted by the Government of Switzerland, provided an opportunity for the international community to boost the implementation of the Sendai Framework and related Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda, as well as commitments of the Paris Climate Agreement. It was also the last global gathering for stakeholders before the deadline for the achievement of Target E of the Sendai Framework: Substantially increase the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020.
The Sri Lanka delegation to the Global Platform included Mrs. Samantha Jayasuriya, Deputy Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka in Geneva, Mr. W.A. Dharmasiri, Director General and Ms. Anoja Senevirathne, Director at the Disaster Management Centre, and Mr. Chaminda Pathiraja, Director at the National Disaster Relief Services Centre (NDRSC).
In his remarks, Ambassador Manuel Bessler, Head of Humanitarian Aid of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, who co-chaired the Sixth Global Platform with UNDRR, expressed condemnation of the heinous acts of terror on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka and wished the country and its people a speedy recovery.