Speaking at a G20 Disaster Risk Reduction Working Group meeting, PK Mishra said the impact of climate change-related disasters are no longer in the distant future but are already here and enormous
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Principal Secretary PK Mishra struck a note of caution at a G20 Disaster Risk Reduction Working Group meeting, saying the impact of climate change-related disasters are no longer in the distant future but are already here and enormous.
"The time for incremental change has passed. We need transformation of local, national and global systems for preventing the creation of new disaster risks and effectively managing existing disaster risks," Mishra said in his inaugural address at the third meeting of the G20 Disaster Risk Reduction Working Group held in Chennai.
India has participated enthusiastically during the last eight months of its G20 presidency, he said, noting that 177 meetings have been held so far in 56 locations across the country.
"Delegates from various countries have actively participated in the deliberations. They also have had a glimpse of India's social, cultural and natural variety. Much progress has been made in the substantive aspects of the G20 agenda. I am sure the Summit Meeting, which will be held in one-and-a-half months' time, will be a landmark event," he said.
This working group, he noted, met for the first time in Gandhinagar in March. Since then, the world has seen some unprecedented disasters, he added.
Mishra cited extreme weather events, including massive heat waves in cities in almost the entire northern hemisphere, forest fires in Canada and haze that followed affected cities in many parts of North America, and the worst flood in Delhi in 45 years when India is not even halfway through the monsoon season, to underline the scale of challenges.
India has also seen major cyclonic activity on its east and west coasts, he added.
"The impact of climate change-related disasters are no longer into the distant future. They are already here. They are enormous. They are interconnected. And they affect everyone across the planet. The challenges that the world faces today underline the importance of this working group," he said.
While the group has made a lot of progress and generated good momentum in a short span of four months, it needs to do more, Mishra said. "The ambition of this working group must match the scale of problems we face," he added.
It is a fact that disparate national and global efforts actively seek convergence so as to maximise their collective impact, he said, adding that the group cannot afford fragmented efforts that are driven by narrow institutional perspectives.
"We must be driven by a problem-solving approach," Mishra said.
The UN Secretary General's "Early Warning For All" initiative is an example of this approach, he said. It is good to note that the G20 has identified "Early Warning and Early Action" as one of the five priorities and is putting its full weight behind it, he added.
"In the area of financing disaster risk reduction, it is important that we pursue structured mechanisms at all levels for financing all aspects of disaster risk reduction. Over the last few years in India, we have completely transformed the way disaster risk reduction is financed," he said.
"We now have a predictable mechanism for financing not just disaster response but also disaster mitigation, preparedness and recovery. Can we have analogous arrangements at the global level as well?" he asked.
The group needs to pursue greater convergence between various streams of financing available for disaster risk reduction, and climate finance has to be an integral part of financing for disaster risk reduction, Mishra said.
While mobilising private finance for disaster risk reduction has been a challenge, countries will not be able to go very far in addressing all the disaster risk reduction needs without it, he said, pitching for creating an enabling environment.
The benefits of the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure, first proposed by Modi, established in partnerships with a number of G20 nations, the UN, and others a few years ago are already visible, he said, offering a host of suggestions.
Mishra said there has been significant progress on the deliverables in all the five priorities pursued by the working group.