Swiss diplomat Joseph Deiss has opened a debate on disaster risk prevention at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
It is the first debate on an urgent global issue that Deiss has convened as the 2011 president of the General Assembly. In his opening speech he said the planet was experiencing an increase in natural disasters and people's livelihoods were under threat.
Switzerland was also represented at the debate on Wednesday by Toni Frisch, head of the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit, who took part in round table discussions on how to better incorporate disaster risks in development and investment activities, and on urban planning measures.
There are indications that the number of natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions flooding, drought and storms is rising, and developing countries are often particularly affected.
Switzerland has a long tradition of aiding countries prevent and prepare for disaster events through the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).
In 2010, the SDC sponsored risk management and prevention programs in some 13 countries including in Central and South America, Morocco, Bangladesh, South Caucasus and Central Asia.
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