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Backgrounder: International Day for Disaster Reduction

10-12-2010 22:29 BJT

BEIJING, Oct. 12 (Xinhua) -- The UN General Assembly designated the second Wednesday of October as the International Day for Disaster Reduction, falling this year on Oct. 13.

The theme of the 2010 International Day for Disaster Reduction, the 21st year it has been observed, is "making cities resilient."

Natural disasters such as earthquakes, wind storms, tsunamis, floods, droughts, volcanic eruptions, and forest fires wreak havoc on communities every year, causing many casualties and large amounts of damage.

In recent years, natural disasters have multiplied as a result of the impact of global climate change.

This year in particular, the world has been shaken by strong earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, a volcanic eruption in Iceland, floods in Pakistan, high temperatures in Japan and wild fires in Russia.

China also witnessed rare natural disasters this year, for instance, the severe drought in southwestern China, typhoons that hit China's southeastern coast, and the earthquake and landslides in northwestern China.

As the urbanization process speeds up globally, making cities resilient has become an urgent call.

Nowadays, many cities in the world are located along coasts. More than one billion people in Asia live within 100 km of the sea while two thirds of people in Latin America and the Caribbean live within 200 km. Many people also live on flood plains or above earthquake fault lines.

So in a message on the international day, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged cities to build resilience to climate, environmental and social risks.

He said city planners must also tackle the principal sources of risk in urban areas - poor governance, planning and enforcement. Decision-making should be inclusive and participatory and the principles of sustainable urbanization must be embraced and upheld, especially for the benefit of people living in slums and informal settlements, he said.

Editor:Yang Jie |Source: Xinhua

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