Green Infrastructure Nature’s Best Defence Against Disasters

Sourced from UN Environment

UN Member States today called for increased investments in ecosystem-based solutions for disaster prevention. Healthy ecosystems play a crucial role in preventing environmental disasters and mitigate climate change as well as reducing their harmful impacts.

Extreme weather patterns such as prolonged drought, flash floods and cyclones ­contribute to food insecurity, instability and migration. The latest devastating cyclones Idai and Kenneth, which hit Mozambique last spring, are cases in point. According to the UN Development Programme, “more than 100 million people could fall back into extreme poverty due to climate change [by 2030], while over 200 million people could be displaced due to more frequent and severe climatic disasters.”

The Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, held in Geneva, Switzerland from 13 to 17 May 2019 is the world's foremost gathering on reducing disaster risk and building resilience. It provides a platform for Member States to share knowledge and report on the implementation process of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, adopted in 2015.

UN Environment is a co-founder of the Partnership for Environment and Disaster Risk Reduction, a global alliance of 24 organizations that promotes ecosystem-based solutions to disaster risk reduction. The alliance calls for increased investments in ecosystem restoration and protection, with particular attention to lakes, swamps and peatlands to reduce the impacts of water-related disasters.

“Water is life, but water can also be a threat to life,” said Dr. Han Seung-Soo, former Prime Minister of South Korea, during his keynote speech. Water-related disasters account for almost 90 per cent of the 1,000 most disastrous events that have taken place since 1990.

As part of the Global Platform, UN Environment and the Partnership for Environment and Disaster Risk Reduction co-organized a high-level working session on integrating risk management of ecosystems and water-related risks, where participants identified key areas for substantial policy improvements and investments. UN Environment also launched Opportunity Mapping, a geospatial tool that helps Member States identify areas where large-scale ecosystem restoration and protection initiatives could take place. The tool also helps with reporting on green infrastructure, in compliance with international agreements such as the Sendai Monitor.

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