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The UN Secretary-General welcomed President Halonen as the third UN Global Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction

Press Release, 10 March 2015 – UNISIDR 2015/06


10 March 2015, GENEVA – The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, will personally welcome the former President of Finland, Ms. Tarja Halonen, as the third UN Global Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) when he shares breakfast on Sunday with DRR advocates from around the world in Sendai, Japan, at the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction www.wcdrr.org

Ms. Halonen served as President of Finland from 2000 to 2012 and she also chaired the high level session “Ahead of the Wave: Leading the Way to Resilience ” at the 2011 Global Platform for DRR and was co-chair of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability.

President Halonen said: “I am coming to Sendai to meet with governments from around the world as well as community leaders, business executives and all others who are key to making disaster risk reduction happen. Only truly inclusive societies will be resilient.”

The two other Global Champions recognized by UNISDR are the former President of Indonesia, Mr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and Ms. Kristalina Georgieva, Vice-President of the European Commission.

Other champions of DRR at regional and national level are expected at the breakfast including the President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union and Bangladesh Parliamentarian, Mr. Saber Hossain Chowdhury, Irish Member of the European Parliament, Mr. Gay Mitchell, Philippines Senator and environmental campaigner, Ms. Loren Legarda, Mauritainian Mayor Ms. Fatimetou Abdel Malick, former speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly Mr. Abdirahin Haithar Haji Abdi, Ugandan Parliamentarian, Mr. Alex Bakunda Byarugaba, and the former President of the UN General Assembly, Mr. Han Seung-soo.

The head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, Margareta Wahlstrom, said: “Champions play an enormous role in persuading and convincing legislatures, national and local governments, the private sector and the general public of the value of investing in disaster risk reduction. Just one indicator is that over the last ten years 121 countries have introduced legislative and policy changes to strengthen disaster risk management. This is a strong record of achievement.”

UNISDR is the UN office dedicated to disaster risk reduction. It is led by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction and supports implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters which seeks “the substantial reduction of disaster losses, in lives and in the social, economic and environmental assets of communities and countries.”