Healthy nature protects against disasters – IUCN

16 June 2009 | News story

Governments need to include better management of nature in all disaster risk reduction policies, if we are to reach the goal to substantially reduce disaster losses by 2015, according to IUCN.

“If we want to build resilience to natural disasters, we need to manage our natural resources better and in a more sustainable way,” says Julia Marton-Lefèvre, Director General of IUCN. “If well managed, mangroves can not only provide protection for coastal communities against storm surges, but also provide additional benefits for people from fisheries and other uses, and provide habitat for many important species.

In the wake of the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, governments meeting in Japan in January 2005 adopted the Hyogo Framework for Action, a 10-year plan to make the world safer from natural disasters. The plan called for investing heavily in disaster preparedness and strengthening the capacity of disaster-prone countries to address the risks.

“Investment in nature can be a cost- effective way to decrease people's vulnerability to drought, desertification and food insecurity”, says Neville Ash, Head of IUCN’s Ecosystem Management Programme. “Ecosystems, such as wetlands, forests, and coastal habitats can provide robust natural buffers as protection from hazard events and the impacts of climate change”

Human and economic losses from natural disasters are increasing at an alarming rate, according to the UN’s Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction launched last month in Bahrain. Environmental destruction and climate change are the main reasons for the unprecedented increase in global disaster risk.

“Efforts to reduce disaster risks must be systematically integrated into development and environmental management policies,” says Karen Sudmeier-Rieux, Member of IUCN’s Commission on Ecosystem Management. “The achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and the way we adapt to climate change will also depend on the ability of the international community to build the resilience of nature and people to disasters.”

Spokespersons

Materials for the Media

June 16: IUCN Opening statement
June 17: IUCN Press release on environmental guidelines for disaster risk reduction
June 18: Water and Disaster risk Reduction-IUCN case studies
June 19: IUCN Closing statement

Photos/Audio/Video material are available at: www.iucn.org/isdr

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Bengal Tiger being Released into the wild from a boat in the Sundarbans