Message by Dr. Joan Clos, UN Under-Secretary-General and UN-HABITAT Executive Director
"The world today is facing ever increasing threats from a wide array of natural hazards which are increasing costs in human lives and loss of public assets. According to UN-HABITAT it is estimated that by 2050 there could be as many as 200 million people displaced by environmental disasters worldwide, many of whom will be forced from their homes by rising sea levels and the increased frequency of flooding and also drought.
Unplanned urbanization exposes more and more people every day to risk from natural hazards. The impacts of climate disruption will be particularly severe in low-elevation coastal zones where many of the world's largest cities are located. And always it is the urban poor, especially slum dwellers, who are most at risk when disaster strikes. We need to stress adequate urban planning to diminish the risk.
The Hyogo Framework for Action provides a strategy for national governments to integrate risk reduction policy into national development planning. United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction's "Making Cities Resilient Campaign" translates this strategy into an approach for implementation in human settlements where the majority of disaster affected populations reside.
UN-HABITAT strongly supports the efforts of the Special Representative of the Secretary General in advancing the cause of resilient cities through both the campaign, and the Hyogo Framework for Action. Our programming continues to integrate risk reduction in all sustainable urban development initiatives including our post-disaster reconstruction portfolio.
On behalf of my agency, I encourage member states, local governments and civil society to increase their efforts for good urban planning and design to prevent climate disruption and to encourage disaster risk reduction.
"It is time to act before the cost in lives, and public and private capital accelerates. Cities are the greatest achievements of human civilization and it is our responsibility to protect them."