Thomas Piesch - intrduction “Making the Connection” – Practical Experiences on Linking Disaster Risk Reduction, Climate Change Adaptation and Ecosystem Management
International Disaster and Risk Conference, Davos, 26-30 August 2012 Session: “Making the Connection” – Practical Experiences on Linking Disaster Risk Reduction, Climate Change Adaptation and Ecosystem Management GIZ et. al, Thursday, 30 August, 1-2:30pm, Location: Flüela Introduction Statement Thomas PieschHead of Division “Recovery and Rehabilitation, World Food Program, Crisis Unit”, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)Ladies and gentlemen,Thank you for giving me the opportunity to dwell onthis subject. Let me start out by saying: The Germangovernment is strongly committed to pro-active riskreduction. We have been supporting disaster riskreduction activities in developing countries for manyyears. How are we doing it?Firstly, we commission bilateral stand-alone projects.Secondly, we promote the integration of disaster riskreduction considerations into other sectors.
And thirdly, we support various multilateral initiativessuch as the World Bank’s Global Facility for DisasterReduction and Recovery – the GFDRR.Let me recall: As a signatory of the Hyogo Frameworkfor Action, Germany is committed to achieve its overallgoal: “The substantial reduction of disaster losses, inlives and in the social, economic and environmentalassets of communities and countries.” Despite progress,reducing risks is particularly challenged by two globaltrends: climate change on the one hand, andenvironmental degradation on the other. Three factsto support my claim:
No 1: The 2009 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Reduction identified the decline of ecosystems as one out of four major drivers of disaster risk. No 2: According to the IPCC, three quarters of today’s natural hazards are climate-related. They account for 45% of deaths and 80% of economic losses – due to climate change, these numbers are likely to increase. No 3: Climate change can also threaten ecosystems that have already been weakened by other human activities such as pollution, development, and over- harvesting.
As we know, disaster risks are caused by a multitude offactors. Therefore, reducing these risks requires holisticthinking. We strongly believe that integrated approachesare crucial for fostering resilience. Why so? Because, onthe one hand, integrated approaches have the potentialto address multiple and converging challengessimultaneously. On the other hand, integratedapproaches also facilitate a more rapid learning processfor adaptation.All of us have experienced it in the past: While the realworld requires cooperation across various sectors toopen up space for sustainable solutions, differentdisciplines are too often self-absorbed. Far too often,they are acting in isolation. Instead, effective use ofresources is at stake! Continued isolation will only
result in duplication of efforts on the ground as well asunnecessary, sometimes harmful competition!Linking disaster risk reduction, climate changeadaptation and ecosystem management might soundcomplex and difficult. However, in reality, the links andbenefits are easily understood. Two thoughts came tomy mind:My first example refers to Switzerland. Here, forests areprotected and managed to reduce the risks ofavalanches. The Swiss federal law -which recognizesforest protection- was already put in place in the 19thcentury. Today, it is of growing importance in times of achanging climate.
Another example and now related to Germany: Morethan 400 hectares of floodplain have been restored nextto the Elbe River over the past few years. This was donein order to prevent a recurrence of the disastrous Elbefloods of 2002. By the way, the Hyogo Framework forAction explicitly mentions the important role ofintegrated flood management and the appropriatemanagement of fragile ecosystem for risk reduction.Secondly, we need to consider the link between disasterand climate change: Due to climate change, it is verylikely that weather-related hazards will increase inintensity, scope and frequency. Thus, it is logical towork together more closely. One has to reduce thedestructive impact of climate change by way of disaster
risk reduction as part of integrated climate changeadaptation.Acting in response to the needs identified, the FederalMinistry for Economic Cooperation and Developmentadopted a new guideline in January 2011. This guidelineensures that climate risks are examined in the planningprocess of all bi-lateral development projects. Thisprocedure is compulsory and it is appliedsystematically. If risks are detected, they have to beconsidered in the implementation phase. Wherenecessary, disaster risk reduction is integrated withinthe framework of climate change adaptation strategies.Having just spoken on bilateral cooperation, what is theGerman approach on a global level? As signatory of
the United Nations Framework Convention on ClimateChange, Germany is one of the largest contributors tomulti-lateral climate funds. In January 2011 animportant facility named Energy and Climate Fund wasestablished by the German government. Its focus is onfinancing projects that directly tackle mitigation andadaptation to climate change.Despite many obstacles and difficulties, our noble taskencompasses the following: Holistic conceptual approaches, promoting objective-oriented networking, interactive implementation between different actors, directly or indirectly involved, and sharing lessons learnt with stakeholders.
To conclude: Disasters, climate change andenvironmental degradation are often inter-linked in oneway or another. Where applicable, creating synergiesbetween disaster risk reduction, climate changeadaptation and ecosystem management makes sense: Itavoids duplication and ensures sustainable riskreduction. I dare to say: many lives would be saved andlivelihoods as well as development gains would bepreserved - even in times of climate change. It is aninvestment that will pay off for all of us. And it is keyfor achieving the Millennium Development Goals inmany parts of the world.
Let me end by saying: Thanks to all contributors andparticipants of this session. Furthermore, I would like toconfirm Germany’s engagement to promote integrativerisk reduction initiatives.I am very much looking forward to the presentationsand the subsequent discussion!Thank you very much!Thomas Piesch