13 Oct 2023

On 13 October, the global community celebrates the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction, an opportunity to acknowledge the progress being made toward reducing disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods and health, while reminding the world that disaster risk is man-made.


The International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction was started in 1989, after a call by the United Nations General Assembly for a day to promote a global culture of risk-awareness and disaster reduction. Held every 13 October, the day celebrates how people and communities around the world are reducing their exposure to disasters and raising awareness about the importance of reining in the risks that they face.

In 2015 at the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan, the international community was reminded that disasters hit hardest at the local level with the potential to cause loss of life and great social and economic upheaval. Sudden onset disasters displace millions of people every year. Disasters, many of which are exacerbated by climate change, have a negative impact on investment in sustainable development and the desired outcomes.

It is also at the local level that capacities need to be strengthened urgently. The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction is people-focussed and action-oriented in its approach to disaster risk reduction and applies to the risk of small-scale and large-scale disasters caused by man-made, or natural hazards, as well as related environmental, technological and biological hazards and risks.

2023 Theme: Fighting inequality for a resilient future. Let’s Break the Cycle! 

Poverty, inequality and discrimination are causes and consequences of growing disaster risk. Inequality creates the conditions that render people exposed and vulnerable to disasters. Disasters also disproportionately impact the poorest and most at risk people, thus worsening inequality. Reducing vulnerability to disasters requires addressing these dimensions

By 2030, with current climate projections, the world will face some 560 disasters per year. An additional estimated 37.6 million people will be living in conditions of extreme poverty due to the impacts of climate change and disasters by 2030. A “worst case” scenario of climate change and disasters will push an additional 100.7 million into poverty by 2030.

We can curb the destructive power of hazards—in other words, stop them from turning into disasters—through careful and coordinated planning that is designed to reduce people’s exposure and vulnerability to harm. Greater investments are needed in the collection and use of disaggregated data, both to better understand disproportionate disaster impacts and exposure, and to inform resilience-building plans.

Our world is plagued by a perfect storm on a number of fronts. Start with the short-term, a global economic crisis. The outlook is bleak. We see deepening inequalities and a rapidly unfolding cost-of-living crisis – affecting women and girls the most. Supply chain disruptions and an energy crunch. Soaring prices. Rising interest rates along with inflation. And debt levels pounding vulnerable countries.

– United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Environmental Disaster Risk Reduction

Disasters do not occur by accident – they are a result of the combined effects of hazards and vulnerable conditions. Disasters undermine hard-earned development gains and limit development achievements for future generations, with climate change expected to exacerbate the impacts of disasters globally. The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 (Sendai Framework) is the first major agreement of the post-2015 development agenda and provides Member States with concrete actions to protect development gains from the risk of disaster.

In the last decade, the role of ecosystems in disaster risk reduction (DRR) has received increased global attention. Sustainable ecosystem management for DRR is now recognized as a priority measure in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. Learn more about environmental disaster risk reduction (Eco-DRR), the Sendai Framework and the Geneva-based organizations active in this field in our update below.



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