March 2015 summit in Japanese city of Sendai set to lay foundations for climate change treaty later that year.
he UN hopes to seal a global agreement on reducing the risks from extreme weather events, earthquakes and tsunamis at a 2015 summit in the Japanese city of Sendai.
The new deal – set to be brokered by the UN’s office for disaster risk reduction (UNISDR) – is likely to focus heavily on climate change adaptation and resilience.
A successful outcome from the March summit could lay the foundations for separate talks on a UN emissions reduction treaty, scheduled for Paris in December that year.
Over 8000 delegates including ministers and heads of state will attend the Sendai meeting. UNISDR chief Margareta Wahlström says it will be a “rare opportunity to forge universal agreement on how to build disaster resilience across all sectors of society”.
In 2005 168 countries including the US, China and EU member states signed the Hyogo Framework, adopting a set of commitments to reduce vulnerabilities to natural hazards.
These include developing public awareness strategies, investing in early warning systems and building 'resilient’ infrastructure.
While decisions taken at the UNISDR are not legally binding, they are seen as a sign of the growing political engagement of governments towards managing risk, and are credited with laying the foundations for climate adaptation strategies.
Deaths from natural disasters have decreased in the past two decades, although the economic costs from storms, typhoons, earthquakes and tsunamis have continued to rise.
Analysts from the Germanwatch Institute say losses linked to extreme weather events between 1993-2012 amounted to US$ 2.5 trillion. Sonke Kreft, team leader at Germanwatch believes a new agreement will have to “actively promote taking climate change seriously as an emerging risk.”
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