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UNECE takes action to protect lives and livelihoods

UNECE has been actively engaged in the preparations of the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (Sendai, 14-18 March). At the conference, UNECE Executive Secretary Christian Friis Bach will showcase at various sessions how UNECE work helps member States reduce disasters risks, build resilience and cope with and recover from disasters when they occur.

All countries in the world, including the most developed, are vulnerable to disasters.  In the European Union, almost EUR 100 billion were lost to disasters over the past decade. In the Russian Federation the 2010 heat wave resulted in over 15,000 casualties. From 2001 to 2011, Tajikistan suffered economic losses from disasters equivalent to almost 60 per cent of the foreign aid the country received over the same period. In 2014, the heavy rains that lead to major floods in Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, triggered a damage estimated at US$ 3.6bn

The United Nations Plan of Action on Disaster Risk Reduction for Resilience calls on the United Nations system, both as individual organizations and collectively, to “make disaster risk reduction a priority”. UNECE’s work plays a crucial role in disaster preparedness in the region and — through its recommendations, treaties and best practices — well beyond.

Many UNECE activities set out binding rules and obligations for States and international organizations that contribute to a more sustainable and resilient pattern of development. UNECE also promotes increased implementation of international standards and other risk management tools by all stakeholders.  This line of work resulted in the adoption of a Recommendation on “Crisis Management in Regulatory Systems” that presses governments to design and implement crisis management functions as an integral part of the regulatory frameworks of all key economic sectors, integrating best practice from international standards in the management of emergencies and crises.

As disasters know no borders, effective responses require transboundary or regional coordination and cooperation. The UNECE environmental treaties are a key tool in this area, helping countries to better cooperate with their neighbours and increase the overall effectiveness and efficiency of each member’s activities.

Through its activities, UNECE and its partners will help United Nations Member States better implement the ambitious post-2015 framework for DRR to be adopted in Sendai.

To find out more, please visit the new section on Disaster Risk Reduction on our website: