Good Morning. Once again, Canada is pleased to have the opportunity to host the Fifth Regional Platform for DRR, Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas and I would like to extend my thanks to the UN, United Nations Office for DRR for helping to convene this Platform.
These three days provide a vital opportunity for all of us, as stakeholders and leaders from across all sectors of society, to come together and focus on ways to build a more disaster resilient hemisphere. The work being done at this event will have a direct impact on lives in the Americas region.
This is the first Regional Platform for the Americas since the Sendai Framework for DRR was adopted in 2015, which has an increased emphasis on risk reduction, mitigation, gender, youth, traditional knowledge, and building more resilient communities and nations.
We are all too aware of the catastrophic impact disasters wreak and we know they will continue to strike. The impact on individuals, communities, infrastructure and resources is profound and devastating.
Over the past 20 years, there has been a pronounced shift in Canada’s risk profile, characterized by the increasing frequency, magnitude and cost of disasters. This can be attributed to a number of factors such as climate change, increased urbanization, technology dependence, aging infrastructure, and demographic shifts.
Recent events, from natural disasters such as the Fort McMurray wildfires and flooding in Alberta and Saskatchewan to human induced events such as the Lac Mégantic train derailment and explosion, have shown Canadians that such catastrophic events can be beyond the capabilities of any single organization or sector to manage.
These events have also demonstrated that the impacts of such disasters can be experienced across a country, and even globally. As large-scale disasters continue to become both more common and more costly, it is imperative that we advance a cohesive, whole-of-society approach to managing these events.
When Canada endorsed the Sendai Framework in 2015, we committed to taking steps to reduce losses in lives, livelihoods and health due to disasters, as well as better understanding the risks, in every dimension. In this regard, engaging key sectors such as health, is critical to the success of Sendai Implementation.
The role of since and technology in understanding disaster risk is foundational to disaster risk reduction. We need to get better at predicting when natural hazards will happen so that we can better prepare for and mitigate damage. Disaster risks exist across all countries but their impacts can vary dramatically, even within a community.
Improving our ability to manage disaster risks requires that we gain a better understanding of where risks and vulnerabilities truly reside in our communities, as well as understanding what changes we can make to reduce negative consequences. Although we cannot completely stop hazards from happening, we can prevent these hazards from getting worse and escalating to disasters. Disasters can be complex, often with various contributing factors. Measuring the various aspects of risks through the use of multiple tools, including climate change modelling, vulnerability analysis and flood mapping, and integrating this information into social development policies and programs, helps us achieve better outcomes.
It is important that we not only measure risks, but also that we share this information broadly through common open data and information portals so people across society have the facts to make good decisions and to plan accordingly to reduce risks. Being aware of the risks and understanding them is the first step to saving lives and reducing damage. It also means making sure to alert the public about a disaster or hazard so they have enough time to get ready.
To that end, Canada is working across all levels and sectors of society to develop a comprehensive Disaster and Emergency Management Strategy for Canada that allows us to place greater emphasis on mitigation, innovation, climate change adaptation and sustainable development while building strong, inclusive and sustainable communities. It will also
identify opportunities to advance the priorities set out in the Sendai Framework.
The Government of Canada will continue to work towards the implementation of the Sendai Framework as well as focus on rebuilding relationships and recreating new partnerships. Canada will continue to support the conversation with the Indigenous peoples on gender equality and empowering youth. An important compliment to this work is being part of these regional and global conversations on disaster risk reduction.
A safe and resilient Canada is a responsibility shared by all levels of government, as well as the private sector, non-government organizations, academia, and individuals. This is a responsibility that every country and organization here shares. Collectively, we are helping to building safer and more resilient communities for all the peoples of the Americas and the world.