Address by the United Nations Secretary-General to the Fifth United Nations Special Thematic Session on Water and Disasters [as delivered] – World
“BUILDING BETTER TOWARDS A MORE RESILIENT AND SUSTAINABLE POST-COVID-19 WORLD”
Your Majesty, Emperor Naruhito,
It is a great pleasure to participate in this extraordinary session. I thank Member States, the High Level Panel of Experts and Leaders on Water and Disasters and the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies of Japan for organizing it.
For decades, natural disasters have been one of the main causes of worsening poverty, pushing some 26 million people into poverty each year and reversing development gains.
These natural disasters are almost always water-related, whether they are floods, storms, droughts, tsunamis or landslides.
The climate crisis is now exacerbating and intensifying water-related disasters, creating complex challenges and threatening lives and jobs.
Over the past two decades, the number of climate-related disasters has almost doubled from the previous twenty years, affecting more than 4 billion people. These disasters claimed the lives of millions of people and resulted in economic losses of over US $ 2.97 trillion.
Climate change alters rainfall patterns, affects water availability, prolongs periods of drought and heat, and increases the intensity of cyclones, which can lead to horrific flooding.
These trends create enormous challenges for our efforts to build more sustainable and resilient communities and societies by implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. And they will accelerate during the Decade of Action. , with projections suggesting a 50% increase in humanitarian needs due to climate-related disasters by 2030.
The most important way to overcome these challenges is to limit warming to 1.5 degrees. We need to do this through enhanced Nationally Determined Contributions that together reduce emissions by 45% by 2030, compared to a 2010 baseline, and achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
But we are a long way from achieving these targets, current commitments are insufficient and emissions continue to rise. Global average temperatures are already 1.2 ° C above pre-industrial levels.
Last year, cyclones hit the coasts of many countries that were already grappling with severe liquidity crises and debt burdens, made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. The countries most affected by climate change are also those with the least fiscal space to invest in adaptation and resilience.
Adaptation cannot be the forgotten piece of the climate equation. I have strongly advocated for the developed world to honor its commitment to mobilize US $ 100 billion per year to meet the needs of developing countries.
I have also called for 50% of total climate finance to be spent on building resilience and adaptation, compared to 20% currently, and we need to ensure that this funding goes to those who need it most, especially especially small island developing states and least developed countries.
We must support the nations on the brink of the climate crisis now.
The recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is a valuable opportunity to rebuild stronger and better societies and economies.
Better recovery means investing in resilience, while addressing water management challenges such as floods and droughts, and providing water and sanitation services to all.
The pandemic has highlighted the importance of prevention and preparedness for an effective response and recovery.
The COVID-19 pandemic was caused by the type of biohazard foreseen in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, which emphasizes addressing multiple hazards and interconnected risks.
We need to apply this lens to our policy making on disaster risk reduction, COVID recovery and climate adaptation.
Recovery actions must be transformative, preserving our environment, ecosystems and biodiversity and, where possible, repair damage already done.
Investing in resilient infrastructure is an investment in the future. Every dollar invested to make infrastructure resilient to disasters saves $ 4 in reconstruction.
More than 100 countries now have a disaster risk reduction strategy at least partially aligned with the Sendai Framework. And in at least 55 countries and local governments have their own disaster risk reduction strategies – essential for building resilience from the bottom up.
But this still represents a minority of countries.
I urge all countries and local governments to work together, forge partnerships with the private sector and civil society, and to accelerate implementation.
Disasters undermine sustainable development. Without good risk governance focused on participation, inclusion, transparency and accountability, our efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, Sendai and the Paris Agreement will be further compromised.
The United Nations around the world is your steadfast partner in the fight against water issues and disasters.
The International Decade of Action, “Water for Sustainable Development” and the Water Conference in 2023 are opportunities for the international community to mobilize to transform water management and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals related to water.
I wish you all a successful session and thank you.