UNESCO proposes Green solutions for Disaster Risk Reduction and climate change adaptation

On 12 of March the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization published a report on Green solutions for Disaster Risk Reduction and climate change adaptation. It underline the fact that well-managed ecosystems – such as wetlands, forests, coastal systems and many others – often act as natural infrastructure, reducing physical exposure to various natural hazards and increasing socio-economic resilience of people and communities. Healthy ecosystems also provide many more services and goods, playing a role in water quality and availability, air quality, food security, and much more. Together with its partners, UNESCO advances the disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation agenda through the application of ecosystem services and nature based solutions.

Leading environmental international organizations, including the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and European Commission (OECD), gathered at UNESCo Headquarters to discuss this important topic on 27 February. Here, the advancement on the disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation agenda, in particular the implementation of ecosystem services and nature-based solutions, was shared with UNESCO’s Member States.

During the information session, panelists highlighted that every year disasters caused by natural hazards affect millions of people around the world. The resulting human losses are tragic and highlight the vulnerabilities shared by our societies. If no preventive and risk reduction measures are taken, these losses will continue to grow as a result of climate change-induced pressures, overpopulation and mass urbanization.

There is a common understanding between scientists and practitioners about benefits from green solutions for disaster risk reduction, fully taking advantage of nature-based solutions for disaster risk reduction can be challenging. International experts agreed that it is most important to both push the current boundary of science and technology and establish local actions for the acceptance and maintenance of nature-based solutions.

UNESCO collaborates with UNEP, IUCN, OECD, European Commission and the international expert community so that science and technology can serve to mitigate natural and human induced threats and reduce our vulnerability.
For example, together with major environmental international organizations – including UN Environment and IUCN– UNESCO is a member of the Partnership for Environment and Disaster Risk Reduction (PEDRR). PEDRR is a global alliance of UN agencies, NGOs and specialist institutes aiming to promote and upscale the implementation of ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction and to ensure it is mainstreamed in development planning at global, national and local levels, while being in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

With this common goal in mind, UNESCO also joins forces with the European Commission. For instance, UNESCO is a leading partner of the work package on international cooperation and capacity building within an ongoing H2020 EU funded project “OPEn-air laboRAtories for Nature baseD solUtions to Manage environmental risks” (OPERANDUM). This project will deliver the tools and methodologies as well as validate NBS to enhance resilience in rural and natural territories through the reduction of hydro-meteorological risks while providing innovation and strategic plan for their up-scaling and replication.

As well, UNESCO will continue with its partners to advance on the disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation agenda thought activities of many UNESCO programmes and projects. A major pillar among overall disaster risk reduction actions is nature based solutions and ecosystem services.