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Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

25 July 2023

ESCAP ES

Excellency Police Lieutenant General Nadhapit Snidvongs, Vice Minister of Interior, Royal Thai Government,

Excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to welcome you all to the eighth session of the Committee on Disaster Risk Reduction.

The Asia-Pacific Disaster Report 2023, which will be launched at this opening session, demonstrates that over the years, disasters have claimed the lives of two million people, with the poorest in the least developed countries bearing the brunt of their devastating impact.

As temperatures continue to rise, new disaster hotspots are emerging, and existing ones are intensifying. A disaster emergency is underway, and we must fundamentally transform our approach to building resilience.

The consequences of inaction are costly. Disaster-related deaths and economic losses are projected to amount to annual losses nearing $1 trillion or 3 per cent of regional GDP under a scenario of 2°C warming.    

The report shows that the most vulnerable subregions, such as the Pacific small island developing States, will experience heightened inequality and devastation in the agriculture and energy sectors, compromising food and energy security.

We have a narrow window of opportunity to embark on a path of transformative adaptation, as laid out in the 2023 Report.

At this session of the Committee, we must prioritize critical actions, starting with increased investment in early warning systems.

Expanding coverage, particularly in least developed countries, is essential in reducing fatalities. Early warning systems can also decrease disaster losses by up to 60 per cent, offering a remarkable tenfold return on investment.

Nature-based solutions must form the bedrock of our adaptation strategies. By prioritizing the management and restoration of degraded environments, we can sustainably reduce disaster risk over the long term.

Transformative adaptation also calls for alignment between social protection and climate change interventions, enabling vulnerable households to protect their assets and livelihoods and thus ensuring that no one is left behind in hazard risk hotspots.

Excellencies,

To turn these aspirations into realities, we must significantly scale up existing financing mechanisms.

Current levels of adaptation finance fall short of the annual average of $144.74 billion required for transformative adaptation. At 0.49 per cent of regional GDP, if we act now, investments in transformative adaptation are still a fraction of the estimated 3 per cent loss in GDP, while effective use of an expanding array of innovative financing mechanisms can help bridge the financing gap.

As climate-related disasters rise, so do their transboundary impacts. A regional strategy that prioritizes common early warning systems and builds transboundary synergies across countries assumes importance.

Consequently, Commission Resolution 79/10 calls on member States to implement and strengthen early warning systems for all as key adaptation strategies in the region and requests the secretariat to develop early warning systems for all at the regional level.

Such work has been at the core of our Multi-donor Trust Fund on Tsunami, Disaster and Climate Preparedness, and I express my deep appreciation to all Governments that have generously contributed to the fund over the past two decades.

Excellencies,

Now is the time for collaboration, united around a common purpose and let us build on early warnings and innovations in science every step of the way, pooling our resources with UN agencies to enhance the collective resilience and response of our region. I look forward to the important work of this Committee in further guiding the secretariat on the implementation of its disaster resilience work.   

Thank you very much

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