Lessons from disasters to shape new policies for better future, says UN chief

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In March 2011, a devastating earthquake and tsunami displaced almost half a million people, including 83,000 evacuated from zones near damaged nuclear power plants. Photo: UNICEF/Adam Dean

The global community needs to turn all of the “painful lessons” of disasters into new policies for a better future, according to the UN Secretary-General.

Ban Ki-moon was touring the city of Sendai on Sunday, to reflect on the lessons learned from the Great East Japan Earthquake that hit the Tohoku region four years ago.

The Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction is currently taking place in Sendai, which is the region's largest city.

Stephanie Coutrix reports.

When the Secretary-General visited the region four years ago, he said he saw how the debris was being used to build new structures.

He added this reminded him of how Sendai's earthquake recovery can serve as a model for turning the tragedy of disaster into a sustainable future.

The UN chief is in the northern Japanese city attending a UN conference on disaster risk reduction, which opened on Saturday.

The meeting has drawn some 4,000 government and civil society participants to agree on a new framework for managing disaster risk which will reduce mortality and curb economic losses.

Ban Ki-moon is calling for an approach that puts people first especially the elderly, children, women, people with disabilities, and others who are vulnerable.

He also said the UN sees 2015 as what he called "a seminal year".

The world body is crafting a post-2015 development agenda that will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The global community is also working to adopt a universal climate change agreement by December this year.

The Secretary-General noted that crafting efficient disaster reduction mechanisms will help these priorities succeed.

Stephanie Coutrix, United Nations.

Duration: 1’12″

 

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