Allow me on behalf of the United Nations Country Team in Azerbaijan to welcome you all to this two-day International Conference on Disaster Risk Management. I wish, in particular, to extend my appreciation to Minister Kamaleddin Heydarov for hosting this important event, which is a testimony to the importance the Government of Azerbaijan attaches to regional development through strengthening partnership in reducing disaster risk.
Sustainable development goals cannot be achieved without managing disaster risk. The overall focus of disaster risk management is to transform traditional development approaches to manage risks, sustainably seize opportunities, and strengthen resilience.
The creation of a more resilient local, regional and global societies and environment requires strong international and local commitment, and goodwill to boost the necessary changes to current development practices, processes and patterns. Policy and action need to go beyond the reduction of existing risk and prioritize the prevention of new risk accumulation.
Risk management must be part of sustainable development policies and practices in order to tackle existing challenges and seize potential opportunities.
This Conference will serve as an excellent opportunity for discussing guidance and support for the regional preparations and deliberations of disaster risk reduction, which will feed into the 3rd World Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction, which will take place in Sendai, Japan, in March 2015.
In Azerbaijan, the United Nations, other partners, civil society, the business sector and the Government make a concerted effort towards integrating Disaster Risk Reduction interventions into the broader development strategies.
UNDP and the Ministry of Emergencies address climate change and foster flood mitigation through improving the legislation and policies, strengthening institutional capacity, and empowering communities to actively participate in water and flood management. At the global level, UNDP supports disaster risk reduction and recovery in about 50-60 countries, with average annual expenditures of over $ 150 million. UNDP recently adopted its corporate Strategic Plan for 2014-2017, which features disaster reduction in a predominant way, focusing UNDP efforts on prevention of disasters and post-disaster recovery.
WHO provided support to the Government to prevent, treat and manage the outbreak of avian influenza and laid a solid basis for pandemic preparedness.
UNICEF, in partnership with the Ministries of Education and Emergencies, integrated disaster risk reduction into education and promoted safe schools and sensitized policy makers on the Hyogo Framework for Action.
IOM plans to work on inclusion of human mobility in disaster risk reduction, disaster preparedness and emergency response strategies.
The United Nations in Azerbaijan, and globally, remains committed to provide support to Governments to play a leading role, jointly with civil society, the Parliament, the private sector and other stakeholders, to ensure that disaster risk reduction is well recognized and systematically incorporated into sustainable development goals to demonstrate good progress by 2015, the target year of the Millennium Development Goals and Hyogo Framework for Action.
As Ms. Margareta Wahlström, Special Representative of UN Secretary General for Disaster Risk Reduction, profoundly mentioned in one of her statements made last year: “The upcoming World Conference on DRR in Japan will provide a rare opportunity to forge universal agreement on how to build disaster resilience across all sectors of society.”
The post-2015 framework for DRR and successor to the Hyogo Framework for Action, among other goals, will aim to promote equity and accountability as the primary drivers of DRR to provide an unambiguous direction for the negotiation of the agreement and its subsequent implementation at local, national, regional and international levels.
The UN in Azerbaijan is currently engaging a wide range of national counterparts and partners to formulate the next UNDAF for 2016-2020, which will be aligned with the national priorities articulated in Vision 2020. We will continue our cooperation with the Government and people of Azerbaijan to minimize vulnerabilities and disaster risks within a broad context of promoting sustainable development through the next UNDAF programme cycle, the Post- 2015 Development Agenda, and the post-Hyogo Framework.
Effective risk management requires action from a variety of actors of local, national, regional, and global as well of a public and private nature.
Given the nature and scale of needed action, it is clear that policy instruments and guidance need to be complemented by commitments and actions by all stakeholder groups – such as Governments, communities, civil society organizations, local governments, parliamentarians, business, and scientists who should assume a proactive role and responsibility and contribute positively to managing the risk inherent to development activities.
Of a particular importance is access to sciencebased risk information and knowledge – it is instrumental to accountability, and the development of partnerships across public, private and other stakeholders. These commitments, often discrete and unnoticed, are emerging and deserve full appreciation and recognition as a significant contribution to fostering regional partnerships for disaster risk prevention and the pursuit of development pathways that would minimize disaster risk generation and help strengthen resilience of the nations and communities to minimize the impact of the disasters.
This conference, with its substantive and broad technical programme and exciting social events, reflects the commitment of the Government of Azerbaijan and the countries in the region to reducing disaster risk, given the importance of the increasing transboundary and global risk drivers, which require further cooperative efforts in their assessment and management.
I thank you and wish you all a productive conference. Enjoy your time in Gabala!