10TH, OCTOBER, 2007: (Agencies): With recent calamities such as floods, storms, and droughts serving as a reminder of the devastating effects of natural hazards, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says the need to engage fully in disaster risk reduction has never been more pressing.
"We have a moral, social and economic obligation to act now in building resilient communities and nations," Mr. Ban states in a message marking the International Day for Disaster Reduction, observed annually on 10 October.
Declaring that "disaster reduction is everybody’s business," he urges governments, civil society and the private sector, international financial institutions and other international organizations to invest in disaster reduction.
Mr. Ban also cites the importance of stepping up implementation of the Hyogo Framework – a plan of action adopted by States nearly three years ago to reduce vulnerability to natural hazards.
Disaster reduction is about stronger building codes, sound land-use planning, better early warning systems, environmental management and evacuation plans and, above all, education, he states.
"It is about making communities and individuals aware of their risk to natural hazards and how they can reduce their vulnerability," the Secretary-General adds.
Last year the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) launched a global awareness campaign entitled "Disaster risk reduction begins at schools," which emphasizes the key role that education can play in teaching children about the hazards that they face around their communities.
Sálvano Briceño, Director of the ISDR Secretariat, noted that children are among the most vulnerable groups in society to disasters. However, success stories from the campaign show that children can play an active part in disaster risk reduction.
On the occasion of the International Day, the ISDR has issued a new publication – entitled "Towards a Culture of Prevention: Disaster Risk Reduction Begins at School" – which provides 35 practical examples of how to improve school safety.
"Too many children are dying because they are not educated to live with disasters or because they are attending classes in unsafe buildings. Making schools safer must be the priority of every government in a disaster-prone country," Mr. Briceño said