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UN recognition for disaster resilience work

Australian Red Cross' collaboration with the business sector to strengthen disaster resilience has been recognised by a UN award

Thursday March 12, 2015

Australian Red Cross' collaboration with business has influenced the Australian government to invest in strengthening disaster resilience in communities

Australian Red Cross has been shortlisted for the United Nations' Sasakawa Award for Disaster Reduction, as a member of the Australian Business Roundtable for Disaster Resilience and Safer Communities.   

This year's UN Sasakawa Award focuses on remarkable and innovative efforts to reduce the impact of disasters and build resilience.  Australian Red Cross and its Business Roundtable partners will be awarded special recognition at the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan, as one of the top three projects chosen from a record 88 nominations from 44 countries.  

Australian Red Cross CEO Robert Tickner and National Emergency Preparedness Coordinator John Richardson will travel to Japan next week with other members of the Business Roundtable to present their work to the conference.  

"This recognition demonstrates the significant impact the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement  can make in supporting vulnerable people through influencing government policy," said Australian Red Cross CEO Robert Tickner.  

"Being in the top three for such a prestigious award is an outstanding acknowledgement of the Australian Business Roundtable's success in putting resilience high on the agenda of Government, helping convince them that investment up front in disaster preparedness will strengthen communities and save lives, as well as deliver huge cost savings in the longer term.  

"I hope other National Societies can build on this initiative, that we can generate constructive discussions and resolutions at the UN Conference about the importance of government working with our Movement, the business sector and wider civil society to progress disaster resilience.     

"The International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has a strong commitment to strengthening the capacity of National Societies to deliver and sustain disaster risk reduction programs and build community resilience.  The Australian Business Roundtable demonstrates the diverse ways a National Society can influence disaster risk reduction.   

"Our research has shown that in Australia, a targeted pre-disaster resilience investment of $250 million per year could generate budget savings of $12.2 billion across all levels of Australian government, as well as reducing the human impact of disasters.  

"Investment in disaster resilience is an urgent priority globally, given the increased frequency and severity of extreme weather events, and the burden this places on already vulnerable communities.   

"I encourage other National Societies to look closely at our model in Australia.  Collaborating with the business sector to advocate for up-front investment in disaster resilience has been an extremely effective way of influencing government policy," said Robert Tickner.    

About the Australian Business Roundtable  

Recognising that governments alone cannot tackle the challenges of disaster management, the Australian Business Roundtable for Disaster Resilience & Safer Communities was formed in 2012 with the goal of supporting the development of a more sustainable, coordinated national approach to making communities more resilient.  

Comprising CEOs from Australian Red Cross and major Australian finance, insurance and telecommunications corporations, the Roundtable aims to influence public policy using evidence based reporting on the investment needed for effective disaster risk reduction.   

According to the IFRC's latest World Disasters Report, in 2013 nearly 90 per cent of the 100 million people affected by disasters lived in the Asia-Pacific region.  

In 2013, the Roundtable commissioned and published research undertaken by Deloitte Access Economics, which demonstrated that carefully targeted pre-disaster resilience investments of $250 million per year in Australia could generate budget savings of $12.2 billion for all levels of Australian governments, and would reduce natural disaster costs by more than 50 per cent by 2050.  

This report was one of the drivers for an Australian Productivity Commission review of natural disaster funding arrangements, which Red Cross also contributed its expertise to. The Commission's draft report found that there should be more significant investment in mitigating disasters, and includes case studies of three Australian communities, detailing potential cost benefit of up front investment in mitigation and preparedness measures.  The final report will be released at the end of May.    

The Roundtable is expected to continue its role in the foreseeable future, seeking to reinforce and further influence Australian governments on the critical importance of investment in disaster risk reduction.