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UN "Decade of Disaster Prevention" draws to close

Switzerland addressed a United Nations forum Thursday in Geneva on the results of the “Decade of Disaster Prevention”. The issue of climate change and its effects on natural disasters were the focus of the Swiss address.

This content was published on July 8, 1999 - 16:17

Switzerland addressed a United Nations forum Thursday in Geneva on the results of the “Decade of Disaster Prevention”. The issue of climate change and its effects on natural disasters were the focus of the Swiss address.

Swiss delegates to the forum said alpine countries were at greater risk of natural disasters which could be sparked by a change in climate.

“Switzerland is not an island,” said Andreas Goetz, president of the special committee for natural disasters (PLANAT), adding that Switzerland should share its experiences and information with the international community.

PLANAT was set up by the government in 1997 to try to step up natural disaster prevention efforts. The committee is composed of 20 federal and cantonal representatives and various interest groups.

Switzerland with its glaciers, lakes and marshes is well-placed to provide expertise and data related to climate change, said Olivier Lateltin of PLANAT. Moreover, Switzerland’s federal structure combined with its morphological diversity has forced it to come up with various original ways of stepping up natural disaster prevention. Experiences which, said Lateltin, could be of interest to the European Union.

The UN had designated the years 1990 until 1999 as the "Decade of Disaster Prevention". The forum is expected to come up with a plan of action for the 21st century on how to step up disaster prevention as well as minimise the economic and humanitarian costs.


From staff with wire reports

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