Bangkok (UN/ESCAP Information Services) – The United Nations

Safe Cities Highlighted at UN, ASEAN Disaster Reduction Day Observance
13 October 2010, Bangkok (UN/ESCAP Information Services) – The United Nations and
the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) jointly drew attention to the
importance of a safer and disaster resilient community amidst the growing threats of
disasters in the Asia-Pacific region.
With the aim of promoting a culture of disaster risk reduction; the organizations jointly
observed both the International Day for Disaster Reduction and the ASEAN Day for
Disaster Management on Wednesday, 13 October. This year’s observance focused on
promoting increased awareness of the importance of making cities resilient to disasters.
To mark the occasion, a Regional Drawing competition for the 3 rd consecutive year was
conducted on the theme ‘My City, My Future: Making ASEAN Cities Safe from
Disasters’. A number of countries from the South Asia sub region joined hands by
conducting drawing competitions with a similar thematic focus in the South Asia sub
The event is being organized by ASEAN, the United Nations International Strategy for
Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for
Asia and the Pacific (UN/ESCAP), and the Ministry of Interior of Thailand.
The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, in a message read by Under Secretary
General and ESCAP Executive Secretary Noeleen Heyzer noted “.With the changes in
the human society we are more urban. If earthquakes, floods or storm surges were
deadly in the past, they are deadlier still in an increasingly urbanized world. Many cities
are on the coasts, vulnerable to storms, inundation and sea level rise. More than a billion
people in Asia live within 100 kilometres of the sea…. On the positive side, we are
learning to cope. Today, on the International Day for Disaster Reduction, we recognize
what local governments and communities are doing to protect themselves while building
more sustainable towns and cities. Last May, the United Nations International Strategy
for Disaster Reduction launched a global campaign called “Making Cities Resilient”.
More than 100 cities, with nearly 110 million residents, have signed up to the “Ten
Essentials” – actions that will make communities safer from disasters”.
Dr. Heyzer in her address indicated that the urban population in Asia cities would reach
2.3 billion by 2025 from current 1.6 billion, with nearly half of the world’s urban
population living within the cities in the Asia-Pacific region.
To make Asian cities more resilient, ESCAP is promoting regional cooperation
mechanisms to allow member states to gain immediate help from other Asian countries
when a disaster hits; to assist effective use of information, communication and space
technology; and to assist effective land use planning and implementation of building
codes. In this regard, she referred to the Regional Cooperative Mechanism on Disaster
Monitoring and Early Warning, which was launched last month, and the proposed
Regional High-level Expert Group meeting for integration of disaster risk reduction
strategies into recovery and reconstruction plans to post flood 2010 in Pakistan to be
held shortly in Islamabad. To highlight the key issues requiring attention at regional,
national and local levels, ESCAP and ISDR would launch the Asia Pacific Disaster
Report 2010 later this month.
ASEAN Secretary-General, Surin Pitsuwan noted “the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster
Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) affirms ASEAN’s commitment to
the Hyogo Framework of Action (HFA) and is the first legally-binding HFA-related
instrument in the world. ASEAN is on the move to attain the vision of disaster resilient
nations and safe communities by 2015. We fully support this year’s theme for the
ASEAN Day for Disaster Management and International Day for Disaster Reduction:
“Making Cities Resilient” and joins in the World Disaster Reduction Campaign to invest
more in urban disaster risk reduction.
The ASEAN Leaders agreed that ASEAN would act swiftly at all levels to achieve
sustained economic development for the region. All the ten Member States are working
towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and Hyogo Framework for
Action (HFA) and are committed to promote sustainable development by reducing
poverty and disaster risk to enhance the well-being of the peoples of ASEAN”.
Awards were given to children from ASEAN and South Asian countries for the drawing
competition.. The winners for ASEAN were from Brunei Darussalam, Philippines, and
Thailand, and for South Asia winning entries were from India, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka.
Essay writers on the theme “The role of youth in Urban Disaster Risk Reduction” from
the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Fiji, Solomon Islands, and Samoa were also
Minister of Interior of Thailand, congratulated all the winners and stated that “drawings
will be exhibited throughout the region to create the awareness of safer communities and
disaster resilient heath facilities in the region. This is an important moment for us to
come together to commemorate the Day and the showcase as the key actors in
disaster management and disaster reduction in this region that is what we have
accomplished with the greatest efforts to build safer communities”.
For more information, please contact:
UN Information Services, ESCAP
Tel.: +66-2-288-1861-9
Fax: +66-2-288-1052
Notes for Editors:
For more information on the World Disaster Reduction Campaign 2010-2011 - Making
Cities Resilient: My City Is Getting Ready!, visit: