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U.S. Statement at the Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction First Preparatory Committee
July 14, 2014

 Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America

As Delivered by Head of Delegation Peter Mulrean

Deputy Chief of Mission

Geneva, Switzerland
July 14, 2014


Deputy Chied of Mission Peter Mulrean speaking at the WCDRR Prepcom One

Thank you, Chair.

Since the Global Platform meeting last May, the world has been struck by a number of extraordinary disasters, underscoring that the unrelenting global challenges we face have never been greater, nor our collective efforts more important to reducing disaster risks worldwide.

Governments must have disaster frameworks, policies, and regulations in place, and they must be prepared to adjust policies and practices and consider directing resources to manage risk in order to minimize devastation.  To be sure, resources to address these risks are limited as many countries face significant and complex economic challenges.  Consequently, disaster risk reduction (DRR) efforts must be smarter, accessible at the local level, and aimed at achieving practical results.

The international community must remain steadfast in pursuing the markers set out in the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) even as we lay the groundwork and priorities for the post-HFA agenda in 2015 and beyond.  The United States is pleased to see broad participation in the post-Hyogo framework consultations, including from nongovernmental organizations, the private sector, and academia.  We have already held national consultations and will continue a dialogue with various stakeholders.

There is scope to integrate disaster risk reduction and broader resilience into the post-2015 development agenda in a dynamic and relevant way.  We welcome a post-2015 paradigm that speaks to the ways in which DRR can be viewed as part of a whole, including the post-Hyogo framework (HFA2), the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and in action taken relating to climate change.  DRR, climate adaptation, and wider development efforts are mutually reinforcing and should be tackled in a comprehensive and holistic manner.  At the same time, we must allow each process to fully develop before we can determine how integration among these vital initiatives can be achieved.  While we support discussions in the context of the post-Hyogo framework regarding the vital role of DRR in the post-2015 agenda, the framework itself should not seek to prejudge the ultimate agenda, which will be decided in ongoing intergovernmental negotiations that will continue over the next year.

The United States supports the HFA as a strong basis for the HFA2, recognizing that the follow-on framework must reflect increasingly prevalent challenges and trends, such as climate change.  The United States would like to highlight conclusions from the IPCC’s Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters, stating that disaster risk reduction measures are an effective way to adapt to climate variability and change, and we support closer linkage of these two issues.

In June 2013, President Obama announced his Climate Action Plan, which outlines steps the United States government is taking to prepare for the impacts of a changing climate, including the possibility of increasing extreme weather events and other changing natural hazards.  We are working to implement the President’s plan at the national as well as state and local levels.  We note, however, that climate change is only one of many complex factors, including many non-climatic factors, which determine whether a natural hazard becomes a disaster.

Physical infrastructure, whether publicly or privately owned, provides the vital lifeline to emergency services and relief supplies when disasters occur.  That infrastructure can be highly vulnerable to the destruction wrought by natural hazards.  We therefore believe that strengthening existing physical infrastructure in the face of more frequent and intense extreme events is a vital component of our future action.

DRR is a shared responsibility that demands the involvement of everyone.  Post-Hyogo processes should therefore encourage active participation of a broad range of civil society actors, including affected communities, the private sector, and academia.  The HFA2 must pay increased attention to integrating the whole community into disaster risk reduction and resilience measures, including individuals – such as women, persons with disabilities, and older persons – who may experience a disproportionate impact during and after a disaster.

While these challenges may seem daunting, the opportunities for collaboration are numerous.  The United States remains committed to working with the international community toward the common goal of reducing disaster risk worldwide.

Thank you, Chair.