‘We Need Action Now’, Secretary-General Tells Thematic Session on Water, Disasters, Calling for Limited Global Warming, Early Warning Systems
Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message to the sixth United Nations Special Thematic Session on Water and Disasters, in New York today:
Water is the lifeblood of our world. It supports every aspect of human survival and well-being. But water is also a common denominator of the disasters that shake our world. Nearly 75 per cent of all natural disasters are linked to water. Disasters like storms, tsunamis, floods, droughts, landslides and wildfires.
Meanwhile, the world’s fossil fuel addiction is deepening the climate crisis, making these disasters and their impacts on people much worse. The destruction is accelerating through rapid urbanization, poor management of natural resources, and the ravages of climate change. Water-related disasters have more than doubled over the last decade. And the countries least able to withstand them are hardest hit.
We need action. And we need it now. First — by investing in preparedness measures and resilient buildings, neighbourhoods and infrastructure that can withstand natural disasters.
Second — by reducing the risk of disasters through better management of water resources and ensuring that all people can access clean, secure and resilient water and sanitation systems before, during and after a disaster strikes.
Third — by limiting global warming to 1.5°C and dramatically speeding up the shift to renewables, with massive support for developing countries.
And finally — by ensuring that every person on earth is protected by early warning systems against natural disasters by 2027. Early warning systems save lives and livelihoods on a massive scale. They are a critical investment in a safer, fairer world for all.
Today, I attended the inaugural meeting of the advisory panel dedicated to the Early Warning for All initiative. And I am pleased to announce that the United Nations and our partners will fast-track our work in 2023 to build and strengthen these systems in 30 countries with some of the greatest needs. This is only a first step. More countries will follow in the coming years. And we won’t stop until every person in the world is covered by 2027.
As we enter the midway point of the Water Action Decade and reaching the goals of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, let’s strengthen the ability of all systems, communities and countries to withstand natural disasters. Let’s take action for humanity’s lifeblood.