Joint statement by Minister of Security of BiH, H.E. Dragan Mektic and Sezin Sinanoglu, UN Resident Coordinator in BiH on the occasion of International Day for Disaster Reduction


Bosnia and Herzegovina is not immune to disaster risks, we need to prevent, prepare and respond with greater commitment, resources and improved planning

In recognition of the dedicated efforts of countries and communities to prevent and reduce disaster risks worldwide, the International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR) is celebrated every October 13. Over the last twenty years, over 1.35 million have died as a result of their vulnerability and exposure to natural hazards with vulnerable groups bearing a heavy toll; and over four billion have been displaced and left homeless, injured or in need of emergency assistance.

Three years after massive flooding caused widespread devastation, loss of life and stagnation in development, Bosnia and Herzegovina strongly embarked on the path of pursuing disaster risk reduction approach. BiH is a signatory of Sendai Framework for DRR, a global action framework that aims to substantially reduce disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods and health and in the economic, physical, social, cultural and environmental assets of persons, businesses, communities and countries.

Last year, the UN Secretary-General launched “The Sendai Seven Campaign” to promote each of the seven targets of Sendai Framework and generate action of world leaders toward its achievement. This year’s target is focused on prevention, protection and reducing the number of people affected by disasters. It concerns the safety of all but particularly those at greater risk of death, injury, ill-health, loss of livelihood, displacement and lack of access to basic services from disaster events including women and children, people living with disabilities, and older persons.

Ms. Sinanoglu, UN Resident Coordinator in BiH stated
” Every day we witness yet another large-scale disaster that has devastated communities around the world. What used to be an occasional disaster seems now like a frequent incident.  Whether it is due to climate change or unplanned urbanization; whether it is an earthquake, a hurricane, a flood or an industrial catastrophe – the lives and livelihoods of millions of people constantly are at risk.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is not immune to disasters. We saw the devastation caused by floods in 2014. Three years after that massive disaster, assessments indicate that nearly 500,000 people still live in areas exposed to high risk of flooding and landslides. Do these people know of the risks? Have they taken action to reduce them? Are they prepared? These are just some of the questions that authorities and citizens alike need to take into consideration when planning the future of their families, communities, cities and economies.  

We cannot merely manage the consequences of disasters when they hit us. Such an approach is not only dangerous, it is also inefficient, expensive and unsustainable. That is why we need to invest in understanding, mitigating and reducing risks before the disaster strikes. We need to understand who is most vulnerable to disasters and work with them to increase their resilience. In all development decisions, authorities and citizens need to prioritize disaster risk reduction and preparedness. This is risk-informed and disaster-smart development.

With the goal to build resilience and safeguard lives and livelihoods, the United Nations continues to collaborate very strongly with authorities at all levels and the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina to develop capacities for effective disaster risk reduction and emergency preparedness.”

H.E. Dragan Mektic, Minister of Security of BiH stated:
“Bosnia and Herzegovina is vulnerable to natural hazards, with a large number of vulnerable populations exposed to disaster risks. Therefore, the Ministry of Security of BiH considers that reducing the risk and impact of disasters is one of the key issues concerning BiH and regional security. Bosnia and Herzegovina recently had the opportunity to test its readiness and available capacities to respond to natural disasters through a field exercise jointly organized by the BiH Ministry of Security and the NATO Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC). We made significant improvements, despite the decentralized system of protection and rescue in BiH. The key players in the protection and rescue system are better equipped today, trained in accordance with the highest standards of disaster response and aware of the importance of good coordination and timely warning in disaster prevention and response.

Still, there is still plenty of room for progress. Reducing disaster risk implies a comprehensive approach, involving actors from different sectors, with continuous adoption of new skills and knowledge. Rapid intervention and timely response can save lives and minimize potential losses from future disasters, but investments in prevention and preparedness mechanisms through good risk assessment and strategic planning are more cost-effective and enable more investments in long-term development. In this regard, it is of crucial importance to work on improving inter-institutional coordination and cooperation with the active involvement of high-risk communities in DRR planning and implementation of measures in the field.

I would like to use this opportunity to thank the United Nations in BiH for continuous support to various DRR initiatives and projects. Our goal is to implement the Sendai framework through strategic integration of DRR in all relevant sectors to create a safer and more prosperous environment for all citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina. To this end, the work plans and programs of the Ministry of Security of BiH for 2018 foresee development and adoption of the DRR Strategy, as well as other relevant risk assessments and planning documents. The announced projects "Support to Civil Protection in Bosnia and Herzegovina" worth 2.5 million Eur, a project funded from IPA funds, Interlinking disaster risk management in Bosnia Herzegovina", worth about 300.000 Eur, supported by the Government of Italy, the IPA DRAM project and other initiatives will enable key DRR interventions to be successfully implemented.”

For 25 years, the International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR) has been a major global awareness event to recognize progress and encourage further efforts to build disaster resilient communities and nations. This day serves as an opportunity to acknowledge the substantial progress being made toward reduction of disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods and health and in the economic, physical, social, cultural and environmental assets of persons, businesses, communities and countries. Such an outcome is the aim of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction adopted at the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Japan in March 2015.