Calling upon the world community to work unitedly towards disaster risk reduction, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India is ready to work with other countries to build disaster-resilient infrastructure.
Inaugurating a three-day “Asian Ministerial Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction 2016” here, Modi said India is even ready to share its space technology and resources with any country to deal with disasters across the globe.
“We need to think big and also think innovatively,” he said talking about the effect of disasters on economic growth.
“In our effort to build disaster resilience, we stand shoulder to shoulder with all the nations of the region. Regional and international cooperation has an important role in providing an added push to our efforts,” the Prime Minister said.
Modi also called upon the participating nations to encourage and prepare women for disaster management work.
“Encourage women in disaster management programmes. We have a large number of women to support…(disaster) affected women,” he told the huge international gathering at the India Gate lawns here.
Giving a 10-point agenda to deal with disasters, the Prime Minister said a network of universities should be developed to effectively deal with disasters.
“After all, universities have social responsibilities, too. Over the first five years of the Sendai Framework, we should develop a global network of universities working together on problems of disaster risk management.
“As part of this network, different universities could specialise in multi-disciplinary research on disaster issues most relevant to them. Universities located in coastal areas could specialise in managing risks from coastal hazards, and the ones located in the hill cities could focus on mountain hazards,” he said.
Modi also urged the authorities responsible to deal with disasters to learn from age-old local practices and implement the same effectively.
The Prime Minister further said that “Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030” will be taken forward from here.
“In India, we are committed to walk the talk on the implementation of Sendai Framework. In June this year, India’s National Disaster Management Plan was released, which is aligned with the priorities set out in the Sendai Framework,” Modi added.
The Prime Minister admitted that there are daunting challenges ahead, and said the Asia-Pacific is rapidly urbanising.
He said within a decade, more people in the region will be living in cities than in villages.
“Urbanisation will pose greater challenges for disaster risk management by concentrating people, property and economic activity in smaller areas, many of them in disaster-prone locations,” he said.
He feared that if the growth is not managed well in terms of both planning and execution, the risk of economic and human losses from disasters will be higher than ever before.
He also urged nations to invest in risk mapping globally.
“For mapping risks related to hazards such as earthquakes, we have widely accepted standards and parameters. Based on these, in India, we have mapped seismic zones, with five as highest seismic risk and two as low risk.
“For disaster risk related to other hazards such as chemical hazards, forest fires, cyclones and different types of floods, we need to evolve similar globally-accepted risk categories. This will help us ensure that we have a common understanding of the nature and severity of disaster risks in different parts of the world,” Modi said.
About 4,000 representatives from 61 countries, including Pakistan, are participating in the event.
Speaking on the occasion, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the Asian region is vulnerable to all kinds of natural disasters and the countries must work together on disaster risk reduction.
“Disaster risk reduction is a collective responsibility,” the Home Minister said, adding that disaster in one country is bound to affect the other.
“We commit ourselves to work with other countries in the region to deal with disasters,” Singh added.
The Home Minister also expressed gratitude towards countries participating in the conference, which has been organised by the Ministry of Home Affairs in collaboration with the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction and the National Disaster Management Authority.