Preparing for the Worst
The Crown Prince of Japan opened the second day of the 5th World Water Forum in Istanbul with a keynote address that tackled water issues due to nature's wrath. The prince focused particularly on the challenging intersection his own country faces: how to protect the country from natural disasters while also making sure water stays clean and flows freely to an ever-growing population. The prince urged "creative minds" to tackle these problems, and praised the Hyogo Framework for Action as a positive step in the right direction toward reaching a global standard for disaster relief.
The Framework, signed in Kobe, Hyogo, Japan in 2005, developed a 10 year disaster planning strategy that was eventually adopted by 168 world governments. The target goal for implementation is not far off; by 2015, the Hyogo Framework will, according to its mandate, have made the prevention of catastrophic natural disaster damage a top priority for the signed governments.
Disaster prevention often becomes a critical issue in the aftermath of a disaster itself, which makes Japan uniquely suited to lead discussions on the topic. Arguably few other countries have taken the vast steps that Japan has enacted to protects its coastlines, harbors, and cities from typhoons, rising sea levels, and seismic shocks. Yet the environmental component of natural disasters is often overshadowed, something that the World Water Forum would like to see brought back into focus. Massive flooding and rupture of infrastructure can quickly and lethally contaminate water sources that are relied upon by huge populations, and without clean water, sanitation and healthcare grind to a halt.
A strong supporter of the prince's statements was Han Seung-soo, Prime Minister of neighboring Korea, who followed up the keynote address with a call for nations around the world to share data on water flows and work together to lessen the damage that comes from rising seas. Arjun Thapan, a representative from the Asian Development Bank, encouraged listeners that Asia, in fact, was one of the premiere locations for disaster planning and water sanitation programs, citing the bank's own investments and the increase in sanitation programs in Asian mega-cities.
-Equatorial Press Staff Report. Photo by IISD.