[ASC-media] Media release: call for action on global disasters

JCA Media jca.media at starclass.com.au
Sun Aug 13 04:16:08 CEST 2006

International Association of Agricultural Economists 26th Conference
Gold Coast Convention Centre, Qld, Australia
August 12-18, 2006	   ph 07 5504 4057


Sunday, August 13, 2006							


Every year 79,000 people die and 200 million more are directly affected by natural disasters. The global damage bill is running at $A90 billion per annum.  

The number of natural hazard events and the number of affected people has been growing rapidly, Professor Hartwig de Haen, retired Assistant Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), told the International Association of Agricultural Economists conference in Australia today.

Because of the disproportionate impact of disasters on very poor people, Prof. de Haen is calling for a new global approach that integrates disaster planning with food security and the management of development.

"The costs associated with natural disasters are difficult to estimate. However, there is sufficient evidence that they have increased several-fold since the 1950s and strong indications that this trend will continue.  

"Scientific predictions point to a further increase in the frequency and intensity of hazards, with a five-fold global cost increase over the next fifty years, mainly due to climate change and to further concentration of the world's population in vulnerable habitats."  

The combination of rising costs and disproportionate losses and damages amongst the poor makes it urgent to integrate disaster preparedness, mitigation and prevention into development strategies, Professor de Haen says.

"A paradigm shift is needed. For too long, disaster management and development policy have been pursued in parallel. Building resilience in the broadest sense - physical, social and institutional - needs to become a component of investment in development."

A prerequisite for enhanced resilience and effective disaster risk management is improved risk awareness, he says.  Only when people know about the possible risks inherent in their particular environment and are informed about how they can protect themselves can they avert or reduce the effects of natural disasters when these strike.

"It has been estimated that investments of US $40 billion in disaster preparedness, prevention, and mitigation would have reduced global economic losses in the 1990s by US $280 billion," Prof. de Haen says. Investment in better building standards, flood mitigation works, water harvesting etc. can all help lower risk.

"Investments in reducing disaster risk will be most needed where both hazard risk and vulnerability are high.  As agriculture is particularly vulnerable to disaster risk, measures to reduce this vulnerability, i. e. protecting agricultural lands, water and other assets, should get greater weight in development strategies and food security policies."

More information:
IAAE media centre, Gold Coast Convention Centre, +61 (0)7 5504 4057
Prof. Hartwig de Haen,
Media contact: Prof. Julian Cribb, 0418 639245

A copy of Prof. de Haen's paper is available: call 0418 639 245

Conference program & details:

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