Statement by Minister Paradis: International Day for Disaster Reduction

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Each year millions of people are vulnerable to the effects of natural disasters. Today, on the International Day for Disaster Reduction, we take a moment to think of all those who have been touched by natural disasters in the past year. But we must also think of how we can work with disaster-prone countries to reduce the impact of these disasters.

Canada is regularly one of the first countries to help in the wake of a natural disaster. This is true not only of the government, but of individual Canadians. One need only look to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti or the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami to see the true extent of Canadians' generosity and compassion.

But reacting to disaster isn't enough. Often, it is not only the size of a natural disaster that defines its full impact, but the vulnerability of the population affected by the disaster. We must promote a global culture of disaster reduction, including disaster prevention, mitigation, and preparedness. Investing in stricter and better-enforced building codes, early warning and response systems, sound environmental practices, and community preparedness will save lives.

Reducing the impact of natural disasters is intrinsically linked to poverty reduction and sustainable development. Disasters threaten lives and also livelihoods. We know that sustainable economic growth is the number one way to break the cycle of poverty and dependence. We need to look at new approaches, seek new opportunities, and work with new partners, particularly the private sector, to build countries' resilience to these events.

By strengthening the capacity of communities to better withstand disasters, we can reduce the short- and long-term impacts and suffering they cause. On the International Day for Disaster Reduction, Canadians can be proud of the role we play in reducing the impact of natural disasters on vulnerable populations around the world.

The Honourable Christian Paradis
Minister of International Development and Minister for La Francophonie