A more fitting day could not be had given the unprecedented surge in natural disasters globally from hurricanes to earthquakes to flooding, to uncontrolled fires. The consequences of these disasters with regard to health issues, contamination, and disease as well as melt-downs of corporate campuses containing hazardous materials must be added to the initial destruction. People in the US, US commonwealths, the Caribbean, and across our borders are waiting for assistance just to have clean drinking water, food, clothing, and shelter. One disaster is difficult enough to manage. Multiple disasters occurring within days of one another are unheard of. Complete power grids are destroyed. Evacuations and recovery continue. When the International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction was started in 1989 by the United Nations General Assembly, it is doubtful they foresaw what we are presently experiencing.
The International Day for Disaster Reduction was started in 1989, after a call by the United Nations General Assembly for a day to promote a global culture of risk-awareness and disaster reduction. Held every 13 October, the day celebrates how people and communities around the world are reducing their exposure to disasters and raising awareness about the importance of reining in the risks that they face. This message means more today than it did in 1989. Awareness may have been raised but reducing exposure to disasters has become a political ball game. We build on our water basins and wetlands and then can’t understand why the water has nowhere to go.
The 2017 Campaign: Home Safe Home: Reducing Exposure, Reducing Displacement
The 2017 campaign seeks to raise global awareness about effective actions, policies and practices taken to reduce exposure to disaster risk at the community level, thereby contributing to saving homes and livelihoods. This is a considerable challenge which can be accomplished only through coordination, cooperation and collaboration among many stakeholders.
Last year saw the launch of the "Sendai Seven" campaign by UNISDR, centered on the seven targets of the Sendai Framework, the first of which is reducing disaster mortality. The campaign seeks to create a wave of awareness about actions taken to reduce mortality around the world. The Sendai Seven Campaign is an opportunity for all, including governments, local governments, community groups, civil society organizations, the private sector, international organizations and the UN family, to promote best practices at the international, regional and national level across all sectors, to reduce disaster risk and disaster losses. This year’s target is focused on prevention, protection and reducing the number of people affected by disasters.
While the United Nations has certainly addressed our current issues with its 1989 call, much of the rhetoric remains only just that. There has not been enough follow through by any local governments or civil organizations to stem the tide of politics, monetary rewards, or developers who are only interested in the here and now. Well, the here and now has taken a path for the worst. Now what?