Live to Tell is the theme of this year’s International Day for Disaster Reduction, held every 13 October. This year marks the launch of the new “Sendai Seven” campaign, an advocacy initiative to encourage implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction with the goal of saving lives, reducing disaster losses and improving management of disaster risk.
The World Meteorological Organization supports the Sendai Seven campaign as a vital part of the international agenda to reduce disasters, curb losses from extreme weather linked to climate change and contribute to sustainable development.
"The devastation and loss of life wreaked by Hurricane Mathew, especially in Haiti, is a poignant reminder of the challenges that face us in reducing the human and economic toll of weather, climate and water-related hazards," said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.
"Matthew showed how a number of hazards can join forces in vulnerable countries like Haiti and reverse fragile development gains. Lethal winds, massive coastal storm surges and widespread inland flooding from torrential downpours combined with tragic effect, and have been compounded by serious resulting health issues, including the spread of cholera," said Mr Taalas.
"Climate change is making extreme weather even more extreme. Rainfall is heavier and the impact of storm surges is greater because of sea level rise and coastal development," he said.
As part of a wider drive to create resilient societies, WMO is working with partners to promote integrated multi-hazard early warning systems which provide better protection against a multitude of simultaneous threats.
National Meteorological and Hydrological Services work 24/7 to protect public safety. Overall, the human loss of life from weather-related hazards has been dramatically reduced in the past 50 years. Thanks to better warning and preparedness, more people can Live to Tell.
WMO is involved in a wide range of initiatives which improve resilience. Examples include better weather and climate services in vulnerable countries such as small island developing states, improved seasonal forecasts which give advance notice of above average rainfall or drought, and heat-health warning systems which have reduced mortality from heatwaves.
It also promotes integrated flood management – which aims to manage floods in a more holistic, proactive way than simply crisis management.
WMO is one of the partners in the new Climate Risk Early Warning Systems Initiative.
However vulnerability and exposure to disasters is increasing as more people settle in areas of high risk.
Since 1970, the world’s population has grown by 87 per cent. During the same time, the proportion of people living in flood-prone river basins increased by 114 per cent and on cyclone-exposed coastlines by 192 per cent. More than half of the world’s large cities, with populations ranging from 2 to 15 million, are located in areas of high earthquake risk.
Climate change is expected to aggravate the risks as it will affect the patterns, severity, and frequency of weather-, climate-, and water-related extremes.
Video message from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon here