Following a week-long major disaster risk reduction conference this week, 1,800 people from more than 300 organizations and governments came together to ask world leaders to reduce the number of human deaths by natural disasters by 50%. They are requesting that this goal be met by 2015.
Given that last year alone saw 300 natural disasters taking the lives of 236,000 people, the goal is a vital one to be met.
And as global warming continues, the issue is also likely to worsen.
In addition to loss of life, last year’s disasters affected a total of 200 million people. But natural disasters do not cost only human life; they also cause severe economical damages, of which last year’s totaled over $180 billion.
During the Second Session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, specific targets were also identified to meet this goal. Some of these include establishing a minimum of 10% of all reconstruction and humanitarian funding to be appointed for disaster risk reduction; an evaluation, followed by a plan for action, of schools and hospitals in disaster-prone countries; and a plan for all disaster-prone major cities to adhere to disaster risk reduction guidelines in land and building codes.
Still, a 50% reduction is a dramatic objective, which the U.N. fully recognizes. “It is very ambitious, but it also can be achieved, I think. You cannot stop the disasters happening, but you can make an enormous difference to whether they kill people and to some extent at least how many livelihoods they destroyed,” says UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, John Holmes.