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UN urges action, long-term measures to tackle disasters

MANILA, Philippines — The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) has called on UN member states and the international community to “act now” and ensure long-term measures to tackle natural disasters.

“With devastating floods, hurricanes and earthquakes that have impacted numerous countries, humanitarian response must be complemented by medium and long-term recovery and reconstruction efforts,” the ECOSOC said in a statement issued by its president Marie Chatardová.

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“Early humanitarian response has been critical for saving lives and livelihoods and the provision of essential services,” Chatardová said following the council’s special meeting on the “Aftermath of recent hurricanes: Achieving a risk-informed and resilient 2030 Agenda” last week.

She said preparedness and partnerships played an essential role in enabling the quick arrival of humanitarian response and emergency supplies during disaster.

Chatardová also issued a statement expressing the council’s condolences to disaster victims and extending solidarity to all the affected people and governments in the hurricane-hit Caribbean, Central America, the United States and Mexico, which was struck by successive earthquakes as well as Africa and South Asia where severe floodings occured.

ECOSOC has been assessing displacements and disruptions to livelihoods of people and their immediate needs such as health, water, sanitation and hygiene, food security and shelter.

It called for greater investment in disaster risk reduction, including preparedness, early warning and early action and urged for greater risk-informed investment in infrastructure and housing.

“We call for stronger collaboration, connectivity and complementarity between humanitarian, development, disaster risk reduction and climate action to define and deliver collective outcomes and to reduce need, risk and vulnerability over multiple years,” said the council.

It said attention must be given to the most vulnerable people facing climate change and extreme weather events.

Elaborating on the measures needed in both the medium and long term, the council called for longer term recovery, development and reconstruction programs, pointing to, among others, the regeneration of industries, including tourism, agriculture and fisheries.

“More importantly, key industries and livelihoods must be made sustainable and resilient to the impacts of future extreme weather events and other hazards. We must support efforts of affected and vulnerable countries to diversify their economies and harness the benefits of digital economy to enhance their economic resilience,” the statement explained.

“We need to act urgently,” council members said, adding that they are committed to continue to promote coordination of UN work in development and progress of countries.