10:00h – 12:00h CET
25 November 2021
EFDRR Virtual Platform
The COVID-19 pandemic is the biggest challenge we have faced in our lifetime. Millions of lives have been lost, billions affected, and with a huge economic cost. In the EU alone, EUR 3.7 trillion has been spent on COVID-19 response measures and EUR 1.8 trillion planned in the recovery phase. The countries in the Europe and Central Asian region have felt the heavy social and economic impacts of the pandemic. This has been compounded by the deadly climate-related disasters over the summer of 2021, from devastating floods to raging forest fires. Climate extremes and slow onset events due to climate change are happening more frequently and with greater intensity than expected. The recent IPCC report lays out how with every increment of increased warming, the world will face with intensifying disaster risk. UN Secretary General António Guterres warned the report "is a code red for humanity".
One thing is certain, we cannot go back to “business as usual”.
The crises we face – from climate, to inequality, health, security, migration, food security or others – are interconnected and only soluble if we treat them as such. The pandemic has reinforced the urgency of integrating agendas. Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) is part of the thread that connects agendas – without it, hard-won progress on the Sustainable Development Goals is unravelled. The pandemic has exposed how all societies have systematically underinvested in DRR.
As we come out of the crisis, we must learn the lessons to build back better, building in resilience, and not creating new risks. COVID-19 has demonstrated the need for a whole-of-government approach that leverages the capacities of all relevant line Ministries, along with national and local government bodies responsible for disaster risk playing a crucial role. Furthermore, it has reinforced the importance of international cooperation for disaster preparedness. In this increasingly interconnected world, international cooperation is vital for good global risk governance in the face of planetary emergencies, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change. The importance of this is underlined in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, which was the first major agreement of the post- 2015 development agenda and with concrete actions to protect development gains from the risk of disaster.
To achieve a transformative approach to disaster risk reduction, it is necessary to work together. We are only as strong as the weakest and we must leave no one behind. An all of government, all of society, approach is needed. We must map risk from many angles and work in a collaborative, trans-boundary way since hazards do not respect borders or politics. Governments and society need to invest in prevention measures to ensure that we never experience crises of the scale of COVID-19 again and that we are prepared for the climate emergency ahead. Integrating disaster risk reduction into investment decisions is the most cost-effective way to reduce risk, which saves lives.
The focus of this roundtable is on the lessons learnt and charting the transformational approach needed for the way forward. This ministerial meeting takes place right after COP26 where adaptation and resilience is a crucial topic. New commitments coupled with stronger international cooperation are needed to deliver a resilient future. The 2021 EFDRR is the Forum to deliver these commitments for Europe and Central Asia. The governments of Europe and Central Asia are leaders on disaster resilience and can lead the regional and global shift from emergency response to prevention.
We can and must demonstrate that prevention is an investment and not a cost.
Now is the time to work together for increased public awareness for action on disaster resilience, supporting education and creating a culture of risk prevention.
This thought leadership gathered at the EFDRR by the governments of Europe and Central Asia, will be taken to the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction taking place in Indonesia in May 2022.
H.E Eduardo Cabrita
Minister of Internal Affairs of Portugal
UN Special Representative of the Secretary General for Disaster Risk Reduction
European Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs and Crisis Management