The meeting will review what lessons have been learned since the last conference, which was held months after a quarter of a million people died in the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. It comes after a report by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) said global economic losses from disasters cost an average of US$250 billion (S$348.17 billion) to US$300 billion annually.
“Two thirds of natural disasters come from climate change,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told AFP ahead of his speech Saturday.
Fabius is president of the COP 21 conference on the climate, which will be held in Paris in December.
“A success in Sendai may prefigure that of Paris”, he said, adding that he wants to draw up a scheme in which all territories and vulnerable populations will have a disaster early warning system.
The conference is being held in the northeastern city of Sendai, days after Japan marked the fourth anniversary of a 9.0-magnitude earthquake. The undersea quake on 11 March 2011 triggered a tsunami that killed around 19,000 people, and a nuclear disaster.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who will attend the gathering, has highlighted the rise in extreme weather as global warming has accelerated over the past 10 years.
“Disaster risk reduction is a front-line defence against climate change and it is essential for sustainable development,” he said in New York on Wednesday.
On Friday, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim stressed the importance of finding ways to finance hugely expensive programmes.
“2015 is probably the most important year for global development in a very long time,” he told reporters in Tokyo, referring to new goal-setting for poverty reduction and the COP 21 meeting. “So one of the things we’re trying to do (in Sendai) is to really broaden our sense of all the resources available, to tackle what’s going to be a huge new agenda” that could cost trillions of dollars, he said.
“Developed countries promised 100 billion dollars a year for climate financing, and so going into the COP 21 meeting in Paris we have to find where the 100 billion dollars are going to come from,” he said, noting that “disaster risk management is part of adaptation to climate change.”
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