Deputy Secretary-General Urges Stepped-Up Recovery, Climate Resilience, in Remarks to Economic and Social Council Meeting on Cyclone Idai

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, to the Economic and Social Council meeting on Cyclone Idai, in New York today:

Nearly three weeks since Cyclone Idai struck Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, the needs remain profound. And the risks of more floods, spread of disease and more lives lost persist. Many areas are now affected by cholera outbreaks, with the current tally of 1,000 cases expected to grow.

The storm flattened thousands of homes and flooded acres upon acres of farmland. And more than 200,000 people have been displaced.

I pay tribute to the local, national and international responders who have been on the scene from the earliest moments of this crisis, saving countless lives and preventing an even more devastating outcome. The United Nations has also been on the ground from day one, supporting the initial search-and-rescue efforts.

We are providing life-saving assistance. For example, the World Food Programme is providing high-energy, fortified food products and supporting efforts to assess damage in affected areas. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is working together with the Government and partners to restore drinking water systems across affected parts of Mozambique. The World Health Organization is distributing cholera vaccines and supporting the setup of treatment centres, and the Central Emergency Response Fund immediately disbursed $20 million.

Yet, the response is still underfunded. We also need to ensure that the response is expanded to rural areas and communities. The three affected countries need $392 million for the next three months, but only $46 million has been recorded on the Financial Tracking System. I call on Member States to bridge this gap.

As we urgently work to stem this crisis, we must also look toward rebuilding and preventing future such disasters. Beyond the emergency phase, we need to ensure sustained support that will help people and Governments cope with the longer-term development consequences of the storm, from shelter and health to food security.

Such calamities can erase, in an instant, years of hard-won progress. And while it is impossible to link any single weather event with climate change, such extreme storms are consistent with what scientists are telling us about the impacts of global warming – and with what we can see with our own eyes.

Recent hurricanes in the Caribbean, and catastrophic storms, droughts and fires in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and North America are driving home the existence of a new normal from which no country is immune. Just last week, the World Meteorological Organization reported that the impacts of climate change keep gathering speed.

In 2018, no region was immune to devastating natural disasters. So, we have our work cut out for us. I urge you to take four simple steps.

First, respond quickly and generously to the humanitarian appeals for Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

Second, support long-term reconstruction efforts in the affected countries. Let us work to ensure that we rebuild communities in a manner that makes them more resilient to future shocks. That doesn’t just mean constructing houses and infrastructure in a different manner – it also implies investing in better disaster prediction and warning systems that reach all parts of the population.

Third, accelerate your efforts to build resilience in the face of climate impacts, economic shocks and other kinds of uncertainty and upheaval. And, make sure that in doing so, you prioritize those furthest behind.

And fourth, raise ambition on climate action – on both mitigation and adaptation. There is still time to win this race, but it requires concerted action – now.

Against this background, I encourage you to engage fully in the Climate Action Summit being convened by the Secretary-General in September. The Summit is an unprecedented opportunity for national Governments to bring realistic, concrete climate mitigation and adaptation plans. It is the time to show leadership and pave the path to a safer, more prosperous and sustainable world.

Today, the people of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi need our strong solidarity in recovering and rebuilding. To those in the affected countries that have lost loved ones, homes, or livelihoods – I want you to know that we stand with you. We are committed to supporting you in rebuilding your homes and your communities. And we are committed to preventing further losses.

Over the long term, all our lives are at stake. Let us all step up.

Source: United Nations