Asia and the Pacific Calls for Integrating Climate Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction

Integrated approaches that synergize climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction are key to building resilience. This was the resounding takeaway message at the Asia-Pacific Climate Week, which concluded on 6 September 2019 in Bangkok, Thailand. The outcome document of the Climate Week further noted that “a fundamental shift in mindset is essential” for the transformative change required to achieve long-term resilience.

The Asia-Pacific Climate Week was the last of the regional precursors to the global UN Climate Action Summit, to be convened by the UN Secretary-General on 23 September in New York.

The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) and its partners coordinated the Resilience and Adaptation thematic block of the Climate Week, including the lead session on this theme.

Over the course of the Climate Week, there have been multiple calls for accelerating resilience building in the region to get ahead of increasing disaster risks as a result of what is now a climate emergency. The Asia-Pacific region is already one of the most disaster-prone in the world and many of its risk drivers are growing, such as unplanned urbanization, environmental degradation and growing inequalities. Hence, the region must adopt climate-sensitive risk-informed development if it wishes to maintain its economic growth and curtail the threat of disasters.

To advance this consensus into practical measures, participants generated recommendations around topics like coherent planning, multi-hazard early warning systems, the land-water-food nexus, vulnerability reduction and capacity building and tools.

Participants across the thematic topics agreed that “local communities must be at the centre of climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction.” Participants further identified integrating disaster risk reduction into National Adaptation Plans, and the use of climate information to strengthen national and local disaster risk reduction plans, as key opportunities. The availability and accessibility of scientific evidence, data, knowledge and resources were considered essential to ensuring this integration.

Closing the session, Ms Loretta Hieber Girardet, Chief of the UNDRR Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, called on governments and organizations to ensure that the region is not denied the opportunity to prosper because of disasters and climate change.

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