Public private partnerships must play an essential role in destinations’ attempts to reduce the risk of disasters, the Global Resilience Summit heard.

Kirsi Madi (pictured), director of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), told the annual event in London that preparedness and risk reduction are vital.

“For any development to be sustainable, for any planning to be sustainable it must be risk informed,” she said. “The private sector is a critical partner. We have to establish a private sector alliance.”

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The UNDRR has formed Arise, a membership organisation for private sector firms committed to the Sendai Framework, a 15-year blueprint for disaster risk reduction which was adopted by UN member states in 2015.

Madi told the fourth annual resilience summit, attended by 300 travel and tourism leaders from around the globe, that nothing undermines the development of emerging countries like disasters.

“There is no part of the world that’s not been touched by natural or human disasters but disasters do not affect everyone equally. For many of the most vulnerable communities disasters continue to reverse gains, undermine resilience and prospects for economic growth,” she said.

Disasters are resulting in escalating human and economic losses as major weather events become more intense, added Mad, with $2.9 trillion in losses estimated over the last 20 years.

In 2018 alone 68 million people were affected by a disaster with over 17 million of those displaced in 114 countries. There were 11,804 deaths and losses of $160 billion.

And Madi said it was the lowest income countries that bore the greatest relative cost.

“Losses tend to be higher in countries with the lowest capacity to cope such as developing island states where over half the mortality occurred in low to middle income countries.”

The United Nations has worked to better understand disaster risk, how disasters interact and to monitor and report on progress across countries.

“We call for the protection of the most vulnerable and to make sure no one is left behind, especially those at risk.”

The Sendai framework calls for better understanding of risk and governance to manage risk, the cooperation of all sectors of government and the private sector and the need to enhance preparedness to aid recovery and rehabilitation.

“The Sendai goals are a shift from managing and responding to proactively managing disaster risk. It calls for a people centred preventative approach” Madi said.

And she said disasters are now not seen in isolation. “we used to look at hazards as individual hazards. Today’s risk landscape is rapidly changing.

“Unsustainable economic development is altering patterns of hazard exposure and vulnerability. We therefore need to consider risk as an economic issue and understand the relatedness of risk in our world today.

“We need to move away from a single hazard approach to also understand the complex interactions of risk.”

Madi added: “Global risk requirements continue to grow beyond what is feasible to be afforded. At the same time policy and financing still reflect old understanding of simply being prepared to respond.

“It’s critical to be prepared, but if you really want to be prepared we need to look at how e reduce human and economic losses. Risk is everyone’s business, it’s really important to underline that.

“The primary responsibility for reducing disaster risk lies with countries and authorities at various levels but that’s not enough. We need all stakeholders to share in this responsibility. The scale and complexity and human cost make this essential.”