Bangkok  (UN ESCAP Strategic Communications and Advocacy Section) – Climate
change  mitigation and adaptation must go hand in hand with efforts to make
development  more  inclusive and sustainable in Asia-Pacific countries, the
top United Nations official in the region said here today.

As  the  world’s most natural disaster-prone region and with climate change
adding  to  its vulnerability, Asia and the Pacific must make disaster risk
reduction  and  climate  preparedness  a  key component of its economic and
social  development agenda, said United Nations Under-Secretary-General and
Executive  Secretary  of  the United Nations Economic and Social Commission
for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), Dr. Noeleen Heyzer.

“The  fight  against  extreme poverty cannot be won without also addressing
the  climate  vulnerabilities  of our most at-risk communities,” Dr. Heyzer
said  in  her  opening  remarks  at  the  Asia-Pacific launch of the United
Nations  climate  change  panel’s  Special  Report on Managing the Risks of
Extreme Events and Disasters to Climate Change Adaptation (SREX).

Among  those  present  at the launch were Thailand’s Science and Technology
Minister,  H.E.  Dr.  Plodprasop  Suraswadi, Association of Southeast Asian
Nations (ASEAN) Secretary General, Dr. Surin Pitsuwan and Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Chairman, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri.

Noting  that  Asia-Pacific  countries  accounted  for 70 per cent of global
losses from natural disasters in 2011, estimated at more than $366 billion,
Dr.  Heyzer  said  the poor and marginalized suffer the most from disasters
related to climate change such as floods and droughts.

Hazards   linked  to  increasingly  variable  climate  conditions,  “become
disasters  in  the  absence of development, where inequalities are greatest
and with inadequate investment in risk reduction.”

“The  Report  is  clear – that exposure and vulnerability to the impacts of
climate  extremes  vary  greatly  ‘based  on inequalities expressed through
levels  of  wealth and education, disability, and health status, as well as
gender,  age,  class  and  other social and cultural characteristics’,” Dr.
Heyzer pointed out.

“The  combination  of disasters and development failures push the near-poor
into poverty, and ensure even greater vulnerability to future disasters. It
is a vicious cycle that must be broken.”

According  to  the  ESCAP  Executive Secretary, climate change presents the
greatest global challenge of the twenty first century, but also the biggest
opportunity  to  make growth more inclusive and sustainable. “Early warning
systems,  more sustainable land use planning, micro-insurance, better local
ecosystem  management, improvements to health, water supply, sanitation and
irrigation   –   these   are  all  important  development  challenges  with
co-benefits for climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction.”

In  closing, she highlighted the opportunity Asia-Pacific countries have to
harness  climate  action  as  a new driver of economic growth. In line with
this,  ESCAP  will  unveil a Roadmap for Low Carbon Green Growth later this
month.

For more information, please contact:
Ms. Francyne Harrigan
Chief, Strategic Communications and Advocacy Section, ESCAP
T: (66) 2 288 1864, M: (66) 81 835 8677, E: [email protected]

About ESCAP
From  its  HQ in Bangkok, ESCAP provides a forum for its member States that
promotes regional cooperation and collective action, assisting countries in
building and sustaining shared economic growth and social equity.
ESCAP provides different forms of assistance to member States:
–   ESCAP promotes rigorous analysis and peer learning through our core
work   areas:  macroeconomic  policy  and  development,  trade  and
investment,  social development, transport, statistics, environment
and development, information communications technology and disaster
risk reduction;
–           ESCAP   translates  these  findings  into  policy  dialogues  and
recommendations, and;
–   ESCAP  provides  good development practices, knowledge sharing and
technical  assistance  to  member  States  in the implementation of
these recommendations.

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