Welcome speech by Mr. Norimasa Shimomura at the Regional Forum - Meetings of heads of emergency departments of Central Asian countries

May 1, 2018

27 April 2018, 10:00 am

Center for Emergency Situations and Disaster Risk Reduction, Almaty, Kazakhstan


Your Excellencies,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the United Nations in Kazakhstan, I am delighted to welcome you at the annual ministerial meeting on disaster risk reduction in Central Asia. I would like to thank the Center for Emergency Situations and Disaster Risk Reduction for hosting, and the Committee of Emergency Situations of Kazakhstan in particular for organizing the event.

Since its founding five years ago, this Forum has established itself as a unique dialogue platform for discussing joint cooperation to achieve Sendai targets and strengthen disaster resilience in the region. The United Nations has supplemented national efforts undertaken for the sustainable development, and provided support for disaster risk reduction in Central Asia.  And with today’s Regional Forum, UNDP is pleased to be the main partner providing its expertise and technical support to promote regional cooperation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Overall, we are pleased to see that Governments have put tremendous efforts and that they are achieving considerable results in disaster response. However, we must note that the global agenda urges us to shift from disaster response to disaster prevention and mitigation.

Poverty, rapid urbanization, weak governance and gender inequality, the climate change and decline of eco-systems all raise disaster risks around the world.  And the people already suffering from these development challenges are often times most affected by the disasters when they occur. Therefore, effective disaster prevention and mitigation require that disaster considerations are integrated in every aspect of social and economic planning – by the Ministries of Education, Health, Agriculture, Environment & Energy, Investment, Transport, Finance – that is to say by “whole of the Government”, civil society, private sector and much beyond.  Equality important is that multitudes of efforts for disaster risk reduction in different parts of the society are coordinated and resourced adequately.

Many people by now have heard of the Sustainable Development Goals – the 17 global development goals that our leaders pledged to achieve by year 2030.  And yet, many people ask what does that actually mean.  A single disaster could reverse the hard-won gains of economic and societal development of many years, and the costs of disaster management every year deprive the countries of scarce resources that could otherwise be used for forward-looking investments.  So, one thing that is very clear is that we would not be achieving the SDGs if we do not work harder and differently on disaster prevention and mitigation. This is why the seven targets outlined in the Sendai Framework are so essential to achieving any of the 17 SDG goals.

The UN agencies already work actively in helping the countries to build a way towards disaster resilience. In Kazakhstan, UNICEF is currently testing methodology for disaster risk analysis with focus on children’s vulnerability; UNDP introduced cost effective and innovative technology for construction of protective belts from floods in densely inhabited urban environments and remote rural communities; OCHA provided technical assistance and capacity building for information management on disasters to the Disaster Risk Reduction Center in Almaty; and UNESCO supported the formulation of a regional strategy on landslide risk reduction in close cooperation with the Center.  These are only few examples of UN’s engagements.

The UN in Kazakhstan stands ready to continue to provide tangible support in making our countries more resilient to natural disasters.  Let me wish you a successful and fruitful work at this meeting!

Thank you.

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