In a region which witnesses significant tectonic activity as well as other natural disasters, the member states of ECO (the Economic Cooperation Organization) met in Tehran to develop a Regional Framework to mitigate the effects of natural disasters.
The purpose of the 3-day expert-level meeting is to draft the ECO Regional Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.
The initiative is a regional spinoff of the global approach to disaster risk reduction envisaged in the Sendai Framework which aims to promote resilience to disasters at the national and regional level.
Speaking at the opening session, the Secretary General of the ECO, Ambassador Halil İbrahim Akça, reminded the audience that the ECO region (comprising Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) is extremely prone to disasters. It suffers from natural hazards like floods, landslides and earthquakes. He emphasized the need for disaster risk reduction, particularly because disasters can have direct and indirect impacts on social and economic development within the region.
UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Mr. Gary Lewis, in his remarks, identified three reasons why countries need better and more integrated disaster risk reduction: “Disasters do not respect borders. In less developed countries, natural disasters can destroy decades of development gains in a few short minutes. Unsound development policies inevitably increase both the risk of disasters – and the consequent losses.”
Mr. Lewis spoke of the specific commitment of the UN to supporting the efforts of the Government of Iran in disaster risk reduction. He noted that “Natural Disaster Management” is one of the four key pillars of the UN’s new Development Assistance Framework which starts in 2017 and which will guide the UN’s development activities in Iran for the next five years.
Both the Resident Coordinator and the Secretary General of ECO spoke of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and highlighted that sustainable development cannot be achieved without managing disaster risk.
The UN was also attended by representatives of UNESCO, UN-Habitat, UNDP and UNESCAP. UNESCO highlighting the need for safe schools in reducing disaster risk and UNESCAP spoke of its commitment to disaster risk reduction through the provision of policy and technical support for drafting the ECO Regional Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.
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