UNOPS stresses importance of resilient infrastructure at DRR conference

COPENHAGEN – UNOPS participation in the sixth Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, held in Bangkok from 22-26 June, focused on the importance of resilient infrastructure in preventing and reducing disaster risk.

More than 3,000 delegates from governments, the United Nations, NGOs, civil society and the private sector gathered in Bangkok to reaffirm regional commitments on reducing disaster risk, and shape regional input for the Post-2015 Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

The conference was hosted by the Royal Thai Government in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR). 

It was the final inter-governmental conference in Asia before the third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, scheduled to take place in Japan in March 2015, where the Post-2015 Framework will be agreed upon.

The conference compiled regional inputs for the Post-2015 Framework and adopted the Bangkok Declaration on Disaster Risk Reduction in Asia-Pacific 2014, which called for an implementation plan and a stronger monitoring and review system for the next framework.

The regional input document emphasized the need to strengthen resilience to disasters, noting that: "the resilience of critical infrastructure such as schools and health facilities is of vital importance, not only to ensure continued basic social services but also to prevent long-term social and economic impacts when, for example, education is disrupted by disasters."

Investing in disaster risk management

UNOPS, in cooperation with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and the World Health Organization (WHO), hosted a side event on investing in disaster risk management in Asia. Discussions focused on prioritizing regional and national disaster risk-management investments, concerning preparedness, response and resilient infrastructure solutions.

UNOPS highlighted the critical role of resilient-infrastructure systems in reducing and preventing disaster risks, and stressed the need to use infrastructure-risk assessments to inform strategic decision-making. 

"Infrastructure assessments are essential as they can provide the information needed to prioritize investments in more resilient-infrastructure systems," explains Henrik Linders, Director of UNOPS Sustainable Infrastructure Practice Group, adding that: "UNOPS participation at this side event was a great opportunity to demonstrate how such assessments can guide decision-makers in how to enhance their communities' resilience to natural hazards."

Disaster risk reduction at UNOPS

UNOPS helps partners around the world construct infrastructure that increases the resilience of communities against natural hazards. Our approach includes conducting infrastructure assessments, improving urban planning, and designing and constructing more resilient infrastructure such as schools, hospitals and roads. In the Asia-Pacific region, which is extremely exposed to natural and man-made hazards, and highly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change, UNOPS supports a wide range of projects, from building enhanced earthquake-resistant schools in Indonesia to protecting harbours in Sri Lanka against tidal waves. 

Further information about and examples of UNOPS work in the area of disaster preparedness and risk reduction are available in UNOPS latest Annual Report and our factsheet on disaster risk reduction and recovery.