Small Island States are leading by example on Disaster Risk Reduction

Margareta Wahlström, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction has said in a statement on the launch of the International Year of Small Island Developing States that SIDS face some of the most extreme negative impacts of disaster and climate risk. But too often, the narrative fails to also capture the other side of the story: their strong will, leadership and ingenuity in tackling risk.

SIDS are leading efforts to strengthen their resilience and build sustainable communities. On my recent visits to island States, I have been struck by both the resiliency and opportunity I witnessed. From the efforts of Pacific Island States and territories to unite climate change adaptation and disaster risk management into one overarching strategy, to the engagement of the private sector in supporting risk management efforts in the Caribbean, to the proactive approach Indian Ocean States are taking to support risk-sensitive development through risk assessments and loss databases, SIDS are proactively pursuing solutions.

However they cannot, and should not, have to do it alone. The impacts of disaster and climate risk are not theirs alone to face; what is being experienced in island States is a glimpse of what the entire planet will face in time. As the Secretary-General said on his visit to the Solomon Islands “The challenges that you […] are going to face are challenges for the world.”

We can deliver together, with concrete action and genuine partnerships.

Investing in disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation is an investment that yields both immediate and long-term results. It provides tangible and concrete support to nationally-led sustainable development efforts across economic, social and environmental sectors. Scaling-up and enhancing these initiatives is critical.

As we come together today to mark the launch of the International Year on Small Island Developing States, and in preparation for the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States in Samoa later this year and the World Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan in March 2015, let us acknowledge the resilience of small island developing States and practice what they have shown the world by example: be solutions-oriented.