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Republic of Turkey Prime Ministry Disaster and Emergency Management Authority

EFDRR Open Forum Kicked Off in Istanbul 28 March 2017

Turkey, as the chair of European Forum for Disaster Risk Reduction is hosting the first open forum in İstanbul between 26 and 28 March 2017.

Created in 2009 and currently chaired by Turkey, the European Forum kicked off on Sunday with informal sessions.

500 participants across the Europe came together in Istanbul with a common goal to reduce disaster risks and share experience. While previous sessions have only involved government experts, the open forum in Istanbul includes non-profit organisations, lawmakers and researchers.

Mr. Veysi Kaynak, Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey, Mr. Robert Glasser, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, Mr. Christos Stylianides, European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Ms. Claudia Luciani, Director, Democratic Governance Directorate, Council of Europe and Mr. M. Halis Bilden, President of AFAD spoke at the opening ceremony.

Changing mentality towards disasters

Mr. Kaynak, emphasised the importance of taking people’s needs into account when it comes to curbing disaster risk.

“Wherever there’s a human being, that person matters,” he said.

“We know that if we want to fight against disasters, first of all we have to change the mentality of society,” he added, explaining that that also meant raising public awareness, ensuring that infrastructure was hazard-proof, and harnessing cutting-edge technology notably for early warning and damage forecasting.

Success story, AFAD

Praising Turkey’s disaster and emergency management authority, AFAD, “Not only in Turkey, but in various regions from South America to Africa and Asia, AFAD responded rapidly in various disasters” Mr. Kaynak said. He added: “AFAD has now become a success story recognized by the world.”

Mr. Kaynak underlined the historical role of which Turkey played during the Syria Crisis, biggest humanitarian crisis since the World War 2. “This will never be forgotten by the next generations” he added.

Speaking at the opening ceremony Mr. Glasser underscored that the Sendai Framework for Disaster Reduction – a 15-year global agreement adopted in 2015, with seven targets including major reductions in mortality and economic impacts. “We are all united in our common desire to prevent disasters where we can and to reduce disaster losses where we cannot,” he added.

7 million people trained

Pointing to Disaster-Prepared Turkey campaign that has already trained seven million people in risk reduction, AFAD President Mr. Halis Bilden said and added: “We’re trying to mitigate or remove all risks.”

Mr. Christos Stylianides, stressed the importance of collective action said that “Reducing the risk and losses of disasters is a collective effort.”

Road to Mexico

The European Forum has catalysed regional efforts. More than 30 member countries now have disaster risk reduction laws, compared to five in 2005. And there are over 670 European local governments in UNISDR’s Making Cities Resilient network, a twentyfold rise from 2010.

Increasing the number of countries around the world with national and local risk reduction strategies is the earliest target of the Sendai Framework, fixed for 2020. It will be critical for achieving the other six by 2030.

As a requirement of the Sendai Framework, one of the intended outcomes of the 2017 EFDRR Open Forum in Turkey is to share experiences, lessons learnt, and gap analyses for the 2017 Global Platform (22-26 May 2017, Cancun, Mexico).

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