Strategy for Disaster Reduction
Latin America and the Caribbean
Newsletter ISDR Inform - Latin America and the Caribbean
2002 United Nations World Disaster Reduction Campaign - Disaster Reduction for Sustainable Mountain Development
Every year since the early 1990s, the United Nations organizes a World Disaster Reduction Campaign that culminates on International Disaster Reduction Day, the second Wednesday of Octoberwhich falls this year on 9 October.
The main purpose of each World Disaster Reduction Campaign is to increase public awareness, worldwide and across all professional sectors, about the measures that can be taken to reduce the vulnerability of societies to the socio-economic impact of natural hazards. The campaigns are based on a different theme every year. This year, the theme is Disaster Reduction for Sustainable Mountain Development.
Two essential aims lie behind this years Campaign. The first is to increase global awareness of successful disaster reduction efforts in mountain areas, so that vulnerable mountain populations can benefit from the lessons learned elsewhere. The second aim is to raise awareness of the importance of disaster reduction in general, so that past and new solutions in vulnerability and risk reduction can be explained and shared.
The World Disaster Reduction Campaigns are organized by the Secretariat of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), located in Geneva, Switzerland.
Whether we live at sea-level or higher up, we remain linked to mountains and they influence our lives far beyond what we can imagine. Mountains are the largest source of freshwater on our planet, their biodiversity is extraordinarily rich, and one out of every 10 people lives on them. However, war, poverty, climate change and environmental degradation threaten the worlds mountain rangesand therefore its beneficiaries, us.
Mountains are high-energy environments. This confronts us with many challenges when attempting to minimize the natural hazards that result from high rain and snowfall, variations in temperature, steep slopes, volcanic activity, and earthquakes.
Some processes are very rapid and cannot be prevented, only mitigatedlava and ash flows, rockslides, rock falls, debris flows. However, human activities also contribute to the fragility of mountains. Unsustainable logging and inappropriate farming practices, for instance, can lead to deforestation and a loss of vegetable cover, leading to erosion. As more topsoil and sediments flow downstream, the likelihood of avalanches, landslides and floods increases. Although gradual, soil erosion puts the lives and livelihoods of mountain people at risk.
Mountain people have extensive experience in natural hazards and are aware of their location and likelihood. But such knowledge is not always used or recognised, especially in the case of slow-onset natural hazards. Also, catastrophic events such as glacial lake outbursts and debris avalanches related to volcanic eruptions may have long return periods or may have multiple causes. They are therefore difficult to predict.
Mountain areas are
therefore a good platform to illustrate what has been done and what still
needs to be done to reduce the socio-economic impact of natural hazards
on populations at risk.
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