Arab nations recognize the impacts of on-going environmental degradation, rapid unplanned urbanization, acute water scarcity, a changing demography and migration trends on achieving sustainable development goals for the region. Secondary risks associated with population displacement, disease outbreak, pandemic influenza, food insecurity, conflict and civil unrest pose multi-fold challenges to the region, on a larger scale than ever before. This recognition is coupled with the immediate responsibility to effectively manage and cope with frequent local and trans-boundary disasters that arise from changing geologies and increasing climate variations across the region.
It is clear that disasters have a direct impact on lives, infrastructure and livelihoods. It’s equally important to recognize their medium to long term impacts; seen in the movement of people and livestock to other host areas with limited resources, the development of unsafe informal settlements in urban centres, limited availability and access to transport, health, education and other basic public services in hazard prone areas.
In accordance with its commitment to the Millennium Development Goals1 and in line with the role identified for regional inter-governmental organizations in the Hyogo Framework for Action2, the League of Arab States has taken the lead in promoting the integration of disaster risk reduction measures in regional policies on sustainable development, climate change adaptation, environment and disaster management coordination mechanisms. Additionally, the need to articulate a strategic approach to protect Arab socio-economic development gains by enhancing the effectiveness of disaster risk management measures, the adoption of risk reduction strategies and climate change adaptation plans, has been prominently stated in recent regional forums.