Speech by Minister for Public Administration Ardalan Shekarabi at the seminar about Disaster Risk Prevention and Mitigation

Speech by Minister for Public Administration Ardalan Shekarabi about Sweden’s contributions to Disaster Risk Prevention and Mitigation, Mexico, 13 February, 2017.


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Sweden's contributions to Disaster Risk Prevention and Mitigation

Ladies and Gentlemen, distinguished guests,

Let me begin by thanking the Swedish Ambassador Annika Thunborg and Business Sweden for hosting and arranging this important meeting.

I am happy to be here today to discuss these very important topics – sustainability, implementation of Agenda 2030 and disaster relief and resilience. I think we have much to learn from each other when it comes to sustainability, Agenda 2030 and building capacity for disaster risk reduction.

I look forward to continuing the dialogue with you. Sweden is firmly committed to living up to the commitments of the Paris Agreement and I am happy to see that governments in Latin America are equally committed. Combatting climate change and building climate resilient societies is a task that is common to us all.

The 2030 Agenda is about transforming our world for the better – a holistic plan for action on all fronts: socially, economically and environmentally. We need to build a world where each one of us embraces the challenge of pursuing a sustainable development.

Sustainable development constitutes one main thematic priority for Swedish development cooperation. The reasoning behind this is obvious: to eradicate poverty, we must build resilience and reduce environmental degradation.

An increasing number of people around the world are being affected by various kinds of disasters. Over 70 000 people on average are killed by disasters every year and at least a quarter of a billion people are affected. There are many sad examples of countries being thrown back up to 20 years in their economic development as a consequence of the dramatic effects of disasters.

Needless to say, disasters pose a significant threat to development. They challenge the prospects for achieving Agenda 2030, and absolute levels of disaster risk are increasing due to various pressures, including climate change.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

There is nothing we can do to stop hurricanes, tsunamis and earthquakes from striking. But what we can do is to enhance the use of preventive measures. We need programs of action that include not just early warning systems but above all, more long-term measures.

An important strength of Agenda 2030 in resilience building is the focus on national capacity building for disaster risk reduction, primarily by mainstreaming disaster reduction and climate change adaptation in poverty reduction strategies.

In May, the meeting of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction will be held here in Mexico. It will be an important event for the successful implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. Joint efforts with more energy and determination at all levels – including cooperation between countries like ours – are needed to succeed in in building resilience globally. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mexico for hosting the Global Platform, and congratulate you on your engagement in this crucial factor for achieving sustainable development.

Disaster risk reduction remains high on the Swedish development agenda. It needs to be a key part of development, environmental and humanitarian policies. The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Sida, integrates a risk reduction component into all relevant parts of our development cooperation. We also support disaster preparedness and risk reduction through the UN secretariat for disaster risk reduction. Sweden is the biggest bilateral donor to the organization and we also chairs the organizations group of friends in Geneva. This is, and will continue to be a priority for the Swedish Government.

Before concluding, I would like to address to a dimension that deserves increased attention: the fact that, in many respects, disasters affect men and women in different ways. Women are often more vulnerable as a result of the social structure of which they are part. The earthquake in Haiti last year and its consequences was a clear example.

We need to promote gender-sensitive approaches to disaster risk reduction including in early warning systems. More research and awareness-raising is needed about different vulnerabilities of men and women but also girls and boys. More analysis is also needed on how disaster risk reduction strategies can address these dimensions in a much more focused way.

Dear Friends,

A more integrated approach between climate change, disaster risk and poverty reduction will help us reach our common goals. Sweden is committed to continue to be an active partner with you within the disaster risk reduction system, helping to build resilience in the years to come. I hope that this meeting can make an important contribution to resilience building for both our countries. I look forward to continued cooperation with you.

Thank you.