A- A A+

Bad situations ‘only get worse’ without disaster risk governance, UN chief says on International Day

A scene of devastation in the wake of Hurricane Irma, which struck Antigua and Barbuda in the Caribbean region in 2017.
A scene of devastation in the wake of Hurricane Irma, which struck Antigua and Barbuda in the Caribbean region in 2017. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

With nations facing multiple crises simultaneously and a dramatic rise in extreme weather events in recent decades, the UN Secretary-General has called for strengthening disaster risk governance, to build a safer, more resilient world. 

In a message commemorating the International Day for Disaster Risk ReductionSecretary-General António Guterres warned that without good disaster risk governance, “bad situations only get worse.” 

Noting that disaster risk isn’t the “sole responsibility” of local and national authorities, Mr. Guterres highlighted the need for political commitment at the highest level to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction

“Good disaster risk governance means acting on science and evidence,” he added. 

COVID-19 and disaster risk reduction 

The Secretary-General also referred to the coronavirus pandemic and its impact, highlighting that lessons from the global crisis can be applied to strengthen disaster risk governance. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought renewed attention to the importance of strengthening disaster risk reduction … COVID-19 has shown us that systemic risk requires international cooperation,” he said. 

“To eradicate poverty and reduce the impacts of climate change, we must place the public good above all other considerations,” he added. 

Multi-sectoral policies 

Meanwhile, Mami Mizutori, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, also highlighted the lessons from COVID-19. 

In a separate message, she explained that COVID-19 has underscored the need for “clear vision, plans and competent, empowered institutions acting on scientific evidence.”  

“We need to see strategies which address not just single hazards like floods and storms but those that respond to systemic risk generated by zoonotic diseases, climate shocks and environmental breakdown,” she urged. 

“Good national and local strategies for disaster risk reduction must be multi-sectoral linking policies in areas such as land use, building codes, public health, education, agriculture, environmental protection, energy, water resources, poverty reduction and climate change adaptation,” added Ms. Mizutori, who is also the head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR). 


 The International Day 

The theme of this year’s International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction is strengthening disaster risk governance – one of the Priorities for Action of the Sendai Framework – to build a safer and more resilient world. 

Disaster risk governance refers to the way in which the public authorities, civil servants, media, private sector, and civil society coordinate at community, national and regional levels in order to manage and reduce disaster and climate related risks. 

Held every 13 October, the International Day celebrates how people and communities around the world are reducing their exposure to disasters and raising awareness about the importance of reining in the risks that they face. The International Day was designated by the UN General Assembly in 2009. 

Source UN News

back to top


Email: unic.portofspain@unic.org 

The United Nations Information Centre for the Caribbean Area (UNIC) has moved from its office at 16 Victoria Avenue,

Port of Spain (Bretton Hall), and will relocate to new premises in early 2021.  

All current telephone landlines have been deactivated.

UNIC staff can also be reached via our individual UN email addresses. We continue teleworking operations (begun in April 2020)

until the Centre’s move to new premises.

Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago