The International Day for Disaster Reduction, celebrated annually on October 13th, is a globally designated observance named by the United Nations General Assembly in 1989, to highlight strategies employed by people and communities around the world to reduce their exposure to disasters, and to promote a global culture of disaster reduction. Guyana is proud to join the rest of the world once again in observance of this day, and more importantly, in demonstration of our commitment towards building a disaster-resilient nation.
This year’s theme, “Reducing economic losses from disasters has the power to transform lives,” rightly infers the direct relationship which exists between economic and disaster resilience. History has shown that countries which have suffered the most severe and retarding impacts to their development as a result of disasters are those whose economies have limited capacity to cope, recover, and reconstruct and therefore to minimize aggregate economic losses. Target C of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, “Reduce direct disaster economic loss in relation to global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2030,” is not only fitting, but also a crucial component in the plight towards reducing vulnerability to devastating impacts and losses as a result of natural and anthropogenic hazards.
Notably, the Government of Guyana has not only recognised this relationship, but has commenced action towards the achievement of this resilience through the country’s trajectory towards a Green State. In recognising the need for risk reduction at all levels, as well as the importance for adaptation to climate change, the Government of Guyana has committed towards ensuring a sustainable low carbon environment for Guyanese through the development of the Green State Development Strategy (GSDS), with one of the fundamental pillars of this being the establishment of a Green Economy. With the intention of guiding the country’s economic and socio-cultural development by diversifying the economy, reducing dependence on traditional sectors and creating new sustainable income and investment opportunities, Guyana’s attainment of a Green Economy will ensure that we are well positioned to significantly reduce the vulnerability of the sector to hazard impacts, and relatedly, reduce the disruption to lives and impacts on development.
As we commemorate this year’s International Day for Disaster Reduction, I urge that we embrace the unique opportunity which lies before us, and that we commit to collaboratively propel our economy towards the transformation which is needed to reduce widespread economic losses as a result of disasters, and in turn, safeguard the development of our nation for present and future generations.