Member states want to see the rise of ecosystem-based solutions to help prevent environmental disasters and mitigate climate change as well as reduce their harmful effects.
UN member states are calling for increased investments in ecosystem-based solutions for disaster prevention and, particularly, water-related ecosystems, to reduce the disaster risk and impacts of climate change.
Ecosystems play a vital role in reducing the impacts of natural hazards and climate change and ecosystem-based approaches should be an integral part of disaster preparedness, emergency response, post-disaster recovery and reconstruction.
According to the UN, water-related disasters account for almost 90 per cent of the 1,000 most disastrous events that have taken place since 1990.
Extreme weather patterns such as prolonged drought, flash floods and cyclones contribute to food insecurity, instability and migration. The latest devastating cyclones Idai and Kenneth, which hit Mozambique, last spring, are cases in point
More than 100 million people could fall back into extreme poverty due to climate change by 2030, while 200 million people could be displaced due to more frequent and severe climatic disasters, warns the UN Development Programme.
UN Environment is a co-founder of the Partnership for Environment and Disaster Risk Reduction, a global alliance of 24 organisations that promotes ecosystem-based solutions to disaster risk reduction.
The alliance calls for increased investments in ecosystem restoration and protection, with particular focus on lakes, swamps and peatlands to reduce the impacts of water-related disasters.
UN Environment has also announced Opportunity Mapping, a geospatial tool that aims to help member states identify areas where large-scale ecosystem restoration and protection initiatives could take place. The tool also helps with reporting on green infrastructure, in compliance with international agreements like the Sendai Monitor.
UN Environment also underlines the importance of the role of green, blue and grey infrastructure in reducing disaster risk.
“Seventy per cent of the world we imagine in 2050 is yet to be built. We have a tremendous opportunity to build infrastructure that goes hand in hand with protecting nature”
A concrete measure put forward by the global disaster risk reduction community is investment in resilient infrastructure, including meadows and forests (green infrastructure), and lakes, swamps and peatlands (blue infrastructure), which can be combined with dykes and seawalls (grey infrastructure) for cost-effectiveness and greater protection.
“Seventy per cent of the world we imagine in 2050 is yet to be built. We have a tremendous opportunity to build infrastructure that goes hand in hand with protecting nature,” said Joyce Msuya, acting executive director of UN Environment.
“When we achieve this balance, we will reduce the risk of disasters and increase the resilience of communities.”
Driving finance to ecosystem restoration and conservation is another important, much-needed pathway to reduce disaster risk.
Through its Principles for Sustainable Insurance Initiative, UN Environment has been promoting innovative insurance schemes such as the Restoration Insurance Service Company for Coastal Risk Reduction, a social enterprise that finances the restoration and conservation of mangrove habitats in vulnerable coastal areas in the Philippines.
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