Singapore, UN office to conduct training on disasters

SINGAPORE will conduct a training programme on disaster risk reduction with the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) in the city state in October.

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam announced this at the Third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction yesterday as he offered Singapore's humanitarian assistance to Vanuatu, the South Pacific nation devastated by the "monster" Cyclone Pam last Friday.

On the training programme to be held in Singapore, Mr Shanmugam said it was targeted at helping developing countries, particularly Small Island Developing States (SIDs).

"It will focus on the needs of SIDs that are particularly vulnerable to cyclones, and we hope it will assist in their future disaster preparedness, mitigation and response capacities," he said, according to a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In his statement to the UN forum, Mr Shanmugam also noted that reducing disaster risk is crucial to long-term economic growth and sustainable development and that it is "crucial to national and regional security".

Adding that the UNISDR has found that 87 per cent of disasters were climate-change related, he said: "It is important to ensure that we succeed in efforts to find a global solution to climate change."

Also making reference to climate change, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius noted in his speech last Saturday that more than 70 countries were identified as particularly vulnerable and exposed to "extreme weather events" - typhoons, torrential rain, storms and sand or snow.

Rich countries are not "immune" to the impact of climate change, he said "but the most exposed countries are the poorest", reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Weighing in, UN Secretary- General Ban Ki Moon said last Saturday: "Disaster risk reduction is a front-line defence against the impacts of climate change."

A report by the UNISDR said global economic losses from disasters cost an average of US$250 billion to US$300 billion (S$348 billion to S$418 billion) annually, reported AFP.

The conference is being held in the north-eastern Japanese city of Sendai, parts of which were devastated by a tsunami triggered by a massive 9.0-magnitude earthquake that struck four years ago on March 11, killing about 19,000 people.

The 10-yearly forum also afforded an opportunity for China and Japan to mend chilly ties, with their ministers in charge of disaster management meeting on its sidelines, said AFP.

Japan's disaster management minister Eriko Yamatani and China's civil affairs minister Li Liguo - the first Chinese minister to visit Japan in three years - agreed yesterday to explore ways to improve co-operation.

This article was first published on Mar 16, 2015.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.