ASUNCION – Poverty and vulnerability to natural disasters are “very clearly linked” in the Americas, the special UN representative on reducing disaster risk, Robert Glasser, said Wednesday in remarks to EFE.
Glasser is in Asuncion to participate in the first meeting of ministers and top-level officials from the Americas on implementing the Sendai Framework 2015-2030, a non-binding accord for the reduction of the risks associated with natural disasters.
The UN expert said that several countries in the region have large concentrations of people living in poverty who tend to settle in marginal areas, for example along riverbanks, where they are especially vulnerable to flooding and other catastrophes.
In addition, overcrowding in these zones facilitates the outbreak, transmission and resurgence of disease, he said.
Glasser also said that poor people in these countries have many fewer opportunities to recover from the consequences of natural disasters, and they also have fewer options for preparing for them.
He added during a press conference after the inauguration of the conference that if the region wants to reduce the risk of natural disasters, it must reduce poverty.
Glasser said that, while the largest economic losses linked to natural disasters occur in the richest countries, the developing countries are the ones facing the greatest losses in human lives.
He also said that in some cases a single natural event can cause losses equivalent to 100 percent of a country’s GDP, adding that these are the people who are most affected by the consequences of climate change around the world.
Thus, he urged the implementation of the Sendai Framework in the region to change the paradigm vis-a-vis natural disasters from a purely reactive stance to a preventive and forward-looking vision.