(The spoken version shall take precedence)
Everyone participating online.
Standing before you today, my thoughts go to the family I met in Bangladesh some years ago. They lost everything they owned in a cyclone, because they couldn’t afford to build their shelter on a safe distance from the water. Now, they had nothing.
And I think about the president of a small island state who told me, with desperation in his voice, how ocean water had started to contaminate the island’s freshwater. He had already made plans for evacuating the entire population when their island would become inhabitable. Not if – but when.
Ladies and gentlemen. Almost 3 out of 4 natural disasters are water-related, like floods and drought. So the topic to be discussed today is, literally, a matter of life and death.
Disaster risk must not only be reduced; In order to cope with the growing number of climate-related disasters, we need to improve our ability to anticipate risk and take anticipatory action.
2020 was a challenging year, with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting practically the whole world. It was also a year with a record high number – more than 40 million people – being displaced. More than 30 million of the displacements were triggered by disasters.
Clearly, the High-Level Experts and Leaders Panel on Water and Disasters has a key role to play in addressing climate-related disasters.
There are several strategies and frameworks available on climate change and risk reduction: The Sustainable Development Goals – for which I am proud to be an alumni ambassador. The Paris Agreement. The Sendai Framework.
But as excellent as these may be, they must also be implemented. And the targets must be met within the timeframe. Because, as we all know, time is not on our side. Action is needed immediately.
I am proud that Sweden is one of the top donors to several key UN agencies who contribute to addressing the impact of climate change. And it is my hope that today’s meeting will help spur further action.
For the sake of that destitute family in Bangladesh.
For the people of that small island state.
For all of us, who are in this together, and for future generations.
With sincere thanks to Japan and the co-hosts, I wish you a very successful meeting today.