Finding An Adequate Alternative To Nuclear Energy In Order To Reduce The Risk Of Nuclear Disasters And The Following Mutations.
by Bennet Windt
Long-lived radioactive contamination of 30,000 km2, workers and helpers submitted to high amounts of radiation - only a few years ago, these numbers haunted every news channel, newspaper and magazine. They are numbers tracking the effect of the Fukushima Daiichi Disaster that shook the world and the global perception of nuclear power on the morning of 11 March 2011. With such numbers, mankind has in recent years seen the destructive effects of its efforts to harvest the seemingly uncontainable force that is nuclear energy.
Although always heavily criticised, nuclear power has been drawn into question especially following recent events in Fukushima, or less recent events in Chernobyl, the general opinion being that the safest way to prevent such future disasters, would be to move away from nuclear power altogether. However, although many, especially in European countries like Germany, oppose nuclear power, the global community is faced with a dilemma: even though nuclear power has never been more criticised, the daunting task of finding an alternative power source seems to be a difficult one. The extent of multilateral cooperation and the complete reshuffling of the global energy supply that would be required for the move away from nuclear energy are perhaps steps that the global community are not quite ready to take. But are they even willing to do so? While some countries strive to move away from nuclear power, many developing countries are still relying on nuclear power to support their rising energy requirements, and will continue to do so in the future. And yet, whilst a solution to this issue may seem improbable and is most certainly not easy, it is also a necessity.
Such a solution is what the Environmental Committee of the 2015 Baltic Model United Nations conference will be tasked with finding. In the conference dedicated to “Heading For Health And Humanity”, the committee will have to strive to find an adequate alternative to nuclear power, so as to prevent consequential nuclear disasters and the detrimental effects that radiation has on the human body, causing illness and deformity. Effectively, the issue will be tackled at its root, based on the fact that without nuclear power, there is no risk of nuclear disasters.
Definition of Key Terms
Nuclear power harvests the energy released in the physical process of atomic fission (splitting of uranium atoms) to produce steam and turn turbines, thus generating electricity.
Renewable energy is exactly what its name suggests it to be; energy that is natural and continuous. Unlike fossil fuels, renewable energy sources (like solar energy, wind energy or water energy) do not "run out" but are in constant supply.
Mutations are, in this instance, taken to mean changes in the physical structure of an organism. These are brought about by changes in that organism’s DNA. The information in the DNA stored in an organism’s cells is used to direct and facilitate the production of proteins, which determine that cell’s behaviour. Changes in the DNA sequence thus directly affect an organism’s cells and consequently that organism as a whole.
Ionising Radiation is the type of radiation released by radioactive materials. This type of radiation can directly damage DNA strands. The breakage in the DNA molecule that Ionising Radiation causes can result in a deletion of important genes, which may lead to physical mutation and illness. Subjection to Ionising Radiation can also lead to the development of several forms of cancers.
Hydraulic fracturing (Fracking)
Hydraulic fracturing is a process commonly used to extract non-renewable energy sources like crude oil and natural gas from rock formations below the surface of the Earth (by injecting fluid into these formations at high pressure, the resources are forced to the surface through a pipe). Unfortunately, the process of fracking carries with it the possibility of detrimental impacts to the environment (e.g. water pollution in nearby aquifers).
Terms Related to Power Generation
In this case taken to mean the percentage of potential energy transformed into work by the machine.
The substances released in power generation (negatively) impacting on the environment, in this case measured in grams of CO2 equivalent released for the production of 1 kWh of energy.
In this case: Eurocents needed to produce 1 kWh of energy.
The flexibility of a power source is based on the source’s capability to adequate energy production according to the variation of demand.
When a power source has a high power density, a lot of energy can be gained from a little amount of that source.
In 2011, 10% of the world’s power originated from nuclear power plants, making nuclear energy an integral power source on a global scale. As a consequence of the 2011 Fukushima disaster, many nuclear power plants have by now been declared hazardous and shut down, however nuclear power still holds an important role as a dominant power source in many countries. For example, according to data published by the World Nuclear Association in April of 2015, there is a total of 23 operational nuclear reactors both in China and South Korea, 48 in Japan, 58 in France, 34 in Russia and 99 in the United States of America, with a grand total of 438 operable nuclear reactors in the world, leaving aside those reactors that are proposed, planned, or under construction. The reasoning behind this extensive reliance on nuclear power is easily explained.
All forms of power generation come with a set of advantages and disadvantages, pertaining to their reliability, efficiency, risks and costs. Many governments have chosen to rely on nuclear energy simply because of its high power density and little cost. However, these factors are easily taken out of context and the reality of the situation is in actual fact quite illusive.
For example, the comparatively cheap cost of nuclear power generation leaves unconsidered the extensive costs in case of a nuclear disaster and the lasting detrimental effects such an accident can have on a country’s economy. Furthermore, whilst the generation of nuclear power might be relatively cheap, it also produces great amounts of nuclear waste, the disposal of which is not only costly, but creates enormous logistical problems. Whilst nuclear power generation is a relatively safe process, when all safety standards are upheld, history provides numerous and recent incidents to make us question the safety of nuclear power.
Possible Alternative Energy Sources:
Renewable / Environmentally Friendly Energy Sources:
Whilst some governments may support nuclear power as the long-term solution to the rising global “thirst” for electricity, the fact that the planet’s uranium will eventually run out seems to defy this decision. What could be considered the main disadvantage of nuclear power, simultaneously acts as the main advantage of alternative energy sources. However, various countries have made progress in combatting this disadvantage.
In so-called “breeding reactions”, new fissionable substances can be produced from the neutrons released in fission reactions. For example, plutonium can be created from nonfissionable uranium (this process is used both to facilitate energy generation and to produce plutonium for atomic weapons). Thus, fast breeder reactors seem to present themselves as a means to remove or at least diminish the problem of availability in nuclear power generation and could even turn out to be superior to “traditional” nuclear power generation in their efficiency and the amount of radioactive waste they produce. Nevertheless, one should take into consideration energy sources that are undoubtedly and infinitively renewable.
The renewable energy sources mentioned below share another advantage over nuclear energy: their ecological impact. In recent years, the global community has become aware both of rising emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere (particularly from nonrenewable energies) and the undeniable connection between the rising CO2-concentration in our planet’s atmosphere and rising atmospheric temperature. Consequently, scientists have decisively declared pollutive emissions as hazardous and contributing to climate change. When debating alternatives to nuclear power, one might therefore want to take into consideration what is often ignored when a government decides to invest in nuclear energy: its ecological impact. With an emission of 25 gCO2/kWh, nuclear energy is relatively ecologically “unfriendly” in operation and unsurprisingly, the radiation released in nuclear power generation and nuclear waste also negatively impact the environment greatly
The main advantage of solar energy is its high availability, with the sun effectively acting as an oversized external nuclear reactor. With projections claiming that the cost of energy production from a solar source will soon equal the cost of energy production from traditional sources, perhaps the alternative to nuclear energy has always been right there, up in the sky. However, with an efficiency of only 37%, it is questionable whether solar energy will be able to fully replace nuclear energy (at least on its own).
Geothermal power plants use a system similar to that of conventional power plants, i.e. steam to power turbines and generate electricity. Whilst many power plants burn fossil fuels to heat water and produce steam, geothermal power plants use steam from hot water reservoirs under the earth’s surface. This method of power generation is remarkably sustainable and ecologically friendly. With an efficiency of 90%, it is far superior to other renewable energy sources like solar energy, however it lacks the high availability of solar power.
Nut unlike solar energy, wind energy harnesses a natural force on our planet: currents of wind. Through enormous wind turbines, the kinetic energy of the wind is used to generate electricity. As the fastest growing energy source in the world, the advantage of wind power lies in its environmentally friendly operation with barely any emissions to speak of. Slightly more expensive but at the same time slightly more effective than nuclear energy, wind energy has its only drawbacks in its flexibility and availability, especially being hugely dependent on its surroundings. To effectively harness wind energy, wind turbines have to be placed at specific locations (e.g. ocean ridges, cliffs etc.) and wind farms require a lot of space. Thus, wind energy is often opposed simply due to aesthetic reasons.
Hydropower converts the kinetic energy from flowing water into electricity, either from river currents or by storing water with a dam and releasing it to a lower vantage point. Its low costs and emissions and its high efficiency are the advantages of this source. However, like in wind power, the additional factor of location needs to be considered, especially as many locations that lend themselves to hydropower generation are already used in such a way, allowing little room for the expansion of this particular source.
Biomass power generation uses a variety of biological, renewable substances as fuel (e.g. crops, wood residues, manure, burned in boilers to heat water, produce steam and generate electricity). Biomass can also be combined with coal and burnt in coal-fuelled power generation in a process called “co-firing”, resulting in less harmful emission and lower operation costs. However, like most renewable energy sources (except solar power), biomass is quite low in availability. Biomass energy production also leaves quite a lot to be desired regarding its efficiency, even though it is comparatively cheap, environmentally friendly, and still more efficient than most non-renewable energy sources (including nuclear power).
Non-Renewable Energy Sources
Whilst renewable energy definitely has its ecological advantages aside its definite advantage of longevity, it lacks the flexibility and availability of other, non-renewable energy sources (e.g. coal, oil, etc.). Furthermore, energy production from renewable sources can often be significantly more costly than that from non-renewable sources. Nevertheless, these sources have their own significant drawback: they are finite in availability. One must therefore decide carefully, whether the use of non-renewable energy sources is a viable, sustainable solution to feed the rising global energy use and replace nuclear energy in its purpose to do so. Also, one should take into consideration the perilous initial extraction (through hydraulic fracturing) of some of these resources.
Since the industrial revolution, coal has remained one of the most commonly used energy sources and currently still plays a major part in global electricity generation. 41% of global electricity source from coal-fired power plants and in some countries, coal is even the most important energy source. Its high (even though finite) availability and flexibility give it its advantage over other energy sources. However, the significant pollution caused by the burning of vast amounts of coal in this process of generation must also be considered; for each produced kWh, coal-fuelled power plants release a kilogram of CO2 into the atmosphere.
Whilst it is slightly more expensive and slightly less pollutive, oil-fuelled power generation is quite similar to coal-fuelled power generation, both in its method of generation and in its flexibility and availability. Like coal, oil, which is won from the ground, is used to heat up water, produce steam and thus generate electricity. Also like coal, there is a finite supply of oil available in the world. From a political point of view, oil is a relatively unstable source of energy. It maintains the dependence of Western societies on conflict-wrought Middle Eastern countries. As a precious resource, oil is subject to continuous political and economical conflict.
Natural gas is a non-renewable fossil fuel, extracted from the ground and then either burned in a boiler to produce steam, which is then converted into electricity, or burned in a combustion engine to produce electricity. Compared to other non-renewable energy sources (e.g. coal or oil), natural gas stands out through its low cost and comparatively low emission, whilst sharing the high flexibility and availability and relatively low efficiency (35%) of coal and gas. However, although natural gas CO2 emissions are relatively low, methane gas, which contributes to the greenhouse effect similar to CO2, can be released when natural gas is not burned completely or through leaks during transportation.
Bibliography and Further Reading
- Samuel A. Apikyan / David J. Diamond (edd.): Nuclear Power and Energy Security, Dordrecht: Springer, 2010
- Compact e.V.: Abschalten ! Warum mit Atomkraft Schluss sein muss und was wir alle dafür tun können, Frankfurt a.M.: Fischer Taschenbuch, 2011.
- Energie und Umwelt: Magazin der Schweizerischen Energie-Stiftung SES, Nr. 4 (2014): Risse im Atomstaat: http://opus.kobv.de/zlb/volltexte/2014/24694/pdf/EU_4_2014_web.pdf
- Gregor Czisch: Möglichkeiten des großräumigen (transeuropäischen) Ausgleichs von Schwankungen großer Teile intermittierender Elektrizitätseinspeisungen aus regenerativen Energiequellen in Deutschland im Rahmen einer 100% regenerativen Stromversorgung mit dem Zeithorizont 2050, Berlin: Sachverständigenrat für Umweltfragen, 2009: http://opus.kobv.de/zlb/volltexte/2012/14021/pdf/40_Czisch.pdf
- Michael R. Greenberg: Nuclear Waste, Management, Nuclear Power, and Energy Crisis. Public Preferences, Perceptions, and Trust, London / Heidelberg / New York / Dordrecht: Springer, 2013.
- Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung (ed.):Mythos Atomkraft: Warum der nukleare Pfad ein Irrweg ist. Mit Beiträgen von Antony Froggatt, Mycle Schneider, Steve Thomas u.a., Grohnde: Heinrich-BöllStiftung, 2010: http://opus.kobv.de/zlb/volltexte/2011/12184/pdf/Mythos_Atom_final.pdf
- Richard R. Kerr / Robert F. Service: What Can Replace Cheap Oil – And When ?, Science 309, 5731 (July 2005), p. 101: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/309/5731/101.full
- Jens Kersten / Frank Uekoetter / Markus Vogt: Europe after Fukushima: German Perspectives on the Future of Nuclear Power, ed. and introduced by Samuel Temple, Munich: Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society (RCC Perspectives), 2012: opus.kobv.de/zlb/volltexte/ 2014/23864/pdf/1201_fukushima_web_color.pdf
- Karl-W. Koch / Astrid Schneider / Ralph Th. Kappler (edd.): Störfall Atomkraft. Aktuelle Argumente zum Ausstieg aus der Kernenergie. Mit einem Vorwort von Franz Alt, Bad Homburg: VAS, 2010
- Andrew Losowsky / Sven Ehmann / Robert Klanten (edd.): Around the World. The Atlas for Today, Berlin: Die Gestalten, 2013.
Developing a system of disaster risk reduction and resilience including disaster management, disaster mitigation and disaster preparedness.
by Johanna Oberländer
Losses from disasters pose a threat to people's lives and livelihoods.
Disasters result out of technological, biological or natural hazards including epidemic diseases, when human and environmental systems are not capable to cope with these events. Whilst in most cases a hazard cannot be controlled, a disaster following it can be prevented or at least be mitigated when the right measures are taken. The need of a system that includes disaster management, mitigation and preparedness in order to generally reduce disaster risks has become increasingly urgent and will expectedly rise in the upcoming decades. Since the 1980s an upward trend in disaster losses has been recorded. From 2000 to 2011 these losses counted a total amount of 1.3 trillion US$ and affected 2.7 billion people. The growing exposure of people and assets to natural hazards is due to the growth of population and assets in “at risk-areas”. This includes migration to coastal areas and the expansion of cities in flood plains. Especially the quick urbanization poses a problem as many people live together in small areas and often lack appropriate building standards. Another aspect multiplying disaster risks is the climate change. Implications on global ecosystems, agriculture, sea level rise and storm surges are being reported and expected. Still, all impacts of the climate change cannot be calculated, consequently historical patterns no longer propose a good basis for planning disaster risk reduction. Taking all these factors in consideration the World Conference on disaster Risk Reduction in Kobe, Japan was organized by the international community to discuss and find possible solutions. As a result the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) was created. This action plan directly addressed the issue and was implicated from 2005-2015. As 2015 has approached now, it is up to the Environmental Committee of the 8th annual BALMUN Conference to work on an adequate solution for the post-2015 agenda. Experience has shown where improvements of Disaster Risk Reduction is still required.
Definition of Key-Terms
Capacity of an organization, community or society is the combination of all available resources and strength that can be used to achieve agreed goals.
Climate change adaptation is the adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climate variations or its consequences, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities.
Climate risk means a risk resulting from climate values or weather variables that affect human or natural systems.
A Disaster is a serious disruption of the functioning of a community or society including substantial human, economic and environmental losses which compromise the capability of said community or society to cope by using its own resources.
Disaster Risk Reduction is the concept and practice of reducing disaster risks through systematic efforts such as analysing and managing risk factors. The goal is to reduce exposure to hazards, lessen vulnerability of people and property, manage land and environment wisely and improve preparedness to probable events that could cause harm in any way.
Exposure describes people, property systems or other elements that are located in presumed hazardous zones and therefore become a subject of potential losses.
Hazard stands for natural, physical, technological or biological phenomena which could potentially cause harm or damage to a community or society.
Preparedness is the term for knowledge and capacities developed by governments, professional response and recovery organizations and individuals to effectively anticipate, respond and recover impacts of probable, imminent or current hazard events or circumstances.
A Risk describes the combination of the likelihood of an event and its negative impacts.
A Residual Risk is a remaining risk that exists in unmanaged form, despite measures of effective risk reduction. That is why emergency response and recovery capacities must be maintained.
Resilience is the ability of a system, community or society exposed to hazards to resist, absorb accommodate to and recover from the consequences of a hazard in a timely and efficient way, including the preservation and restoration of its essential and basic structures and functions.
Sustainable development is the ability of the present to meet its needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Vulnerability describes the factors and characteristics of a community, system or asset that make it fragile to the hurtful effects of a hazard.
Global vulnerability to disasters
Population growth and urbanization
In the past three decades the world's population has grown by 87% to a total of seven billion people. This rapid growth creates tensions between economic growth, poverty reduction, and efforts to reduce existing inequalities between upper- and lower-income groups. Whilst the society is already struggling to cope with its inner challenges, disaster risk is increasing, because of the population growth especially in urbanized regions. Thus, it stimulates the urbanization process. By 2025, 90 million more people are expected to live in cities. But the faster the urbanization process takes place, the bigger become the inequalities an d the smaller the capability of a society and economy to keep up with the rapid growth. In addition, many cities are situated in “at risk-areas”. The urbanization process consequently exposes a rising amount of people to disaster risk. In flood-prone areas the proportional growth of population increased by 114 % and on cyclone-exposed coastlines by 192%. A similar development can be reported in areas of high risk to seismic activity: More than half of the world's largest cities with populations from 2 to 15 million are located in such areas. That is the reason why population growth combined with urbanization poses a special vulnerability to disasters.
Climate change and environmental degradation
The climate change is a development that the world's community must face without knowing its total impacts. Only already reported changes and estimations can give a clue and prepare communities to future necessary adaptation. This uncertainty is the main reason why climate change multiplies disaster risks. Empirical planning from historical events will no longer be possible. Climate change is expected to have implications on global ecosystems and agriculture, which might increase the occurrence and vary the location of some physical events such as tropical storms, floods, mudslides, droughts etc. One thing that is sure about the climate change is that its impacts on human and natural systems will be widespread. Environmental degradation caused by human recklessness and as a factor to climate change also poses a threat to human safety by increasing risks. Damaged environmental regions, that struggle to recover are way more fragile to weather conditions like wind, rain or frost which makes disasters more likely.
The goal to achieve sustainable development is significantly threatened by natural hazards. Earthquakes, cyclones, floods etc. cause damages which have long-term social, economic and environmental impacts. The struggle to cope with the losses from such a disaster eradicates nearly any effort in direction to sustainable development. Costs to reconstruct property and infrastructure often overwhelm the capacities of communities, in addition to that losses that cannot be reconstructed such as lives and agricultural food supplies increase the situation and lead to a “downward spiral”. Thus, it is very difficult to contain sustaining development. But just as disasters pose a threat to sustainable development, well integrated and functioning sustainable development diminishes disaster risks.
Special vulnerability of LEDCs and Small Island States
No country is immune to disasters, regardless of the level of economic and social development. However, the vulnerability of communities and societies is closely and inversely linked to economic and social development. LEDCs are disadvantaged in that matter. They face the challenges of population growth, urbanization, climate change, and environmental degradation altogether while struggling with deficits in the social and economic sector. Poverty, lacking education and infrastructure, and inappropriate building standards heighten the vulnerability to hazard events and circumstances. This indicates that it is necessary to work on the deficits of the society to reduce disaster risks but as many challenges as there are, financial and economic resources are not sufficient to achieve any goals in a short period of time, which is why risks stay increased.
Other quite vulnerable communities are small island states. Due to their location in maritime areas they are more likely struck by hazards. The risk is intensified by small populations and small economies that rely on tourism as a main source of income. Consequently, a natural hazard would cause even more damage in long-term. The economy would struggle to recover from a disaster, since less tourists would come to the island state as attractions would be destroyed and fear of other disasters would keep them away.
But not just certain communities or societies as a whole are vulnerable to hazards. It is also important to take the individual and minorities into consideration, as the level of disaster impacts alter from person to person, from circumstance to circumstance. Which is why planning a program to reduce disaster risk must include the particularly vulnerable like women, children under 5 years, people over 65 years, disabled etc.
Creating Resilience and reducing risks
In order to reduce a communities vulnerability to natural, technical, or biological hazards, the origins of that vulnerability must be found and in the most effective way, be eliminated. Resilience to disasters means a compact construct including preparedness to possible disasters, managing occurring disasters and mitigating their impacts on lives and livelihoods the fastest possible. None of these three priorities can actually be separated from one another. Finding an adequate solution on how to reduce disaster risks has been an important task of the international community for a long time.
Measures taken by the international community
World Conference on disaster risk reduction
The WCDR was requested by the UN General Assembly as an answer to its resolution A/RES/58/214. The conference was held in Kobe, Hyogo, Japan from January 19 to 22 in 2005. Delegates from 168 countries came together to work on the issue of disaster risk and the progress reported since the 1994 Yokohoma conference. A special focus was set on developing plans to ameliorate disaster risk reduction within all nations in the upcoming decade.
Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) 2005-2015
The Hyogo Framework for Action was created at the WCDR. It is a 10-year plan aiming at substantially reducing disaster losses by 2015 by building the resilience of nations and communities to disasters. That includes the reduction of losses concerning life; economic, social and environmental assets. As it is, the HFA is the first plan to directly determine the required work from all sectors and actors in order to reduce disaster losses. To do that, many partners had to come together to make the plan more detailed and constructive. Governments, international agencies, disaster experts etc. developed a common system of coordination. The HFA distinguishes five priorities of action. Additionally it offers guidance principles and practical means to accomplish the challenge of disasters.
Priority Action 1 - Ensure that disaster risk reduction is a national and a local priority with a strong institutional basis for implementation
This priority action emphasizes the importance of disaster risk reduction as a special focus of every governmental institution. To integrate it into the legislation would be a major step in direction to enabling resilience. Before any actions can be undertaken, the danger that disaster risks impose on a community or society must be precisely defined and taken into account in local, regional, national and international governance. As any development whatsoever is threatened by possible disasters, making it more sustainable and thus more resilient should be an essential goal which is why including disaster risk reduction into development policies and planning is a major part of integrating it into the governance.
It is important that implemented policies address both multisectoral and sectorwise issues. A decentralization of responsibilities, resources, and capacities would help to implement these policies at a more widespread basis. Additionally that would rise the level of community participation and foster political commitment. To back away from the theoretical notion of the term disaster risk reduction, not only a decentralization of responsibilities is necessary but also a direct designation of responsibilities.
Priority Action 2 - Identify, assess and monitor disaster risks and enhance early warning
In order to reduce risks, they must be identified as what they are. In advance it is difficult to say what factors could increase damages and losses caused by an occurring hazard. Still, every step must be undertaken to ensure as completely as possible that no potential scenario is left out of calculations. To elaborate on multi-risk assessments and maps and to disseminate them should therefore be an important task to accomplish. In times of globalization, where all societies are linked to one another, working together is a major turning point in order to achieve a more disaster resilient world. Scientific and technological development enables the effective cooperation of organizations, governments, companies to aid one another with this difficult task. Data sharing, and working with that information on losses and upcoming risks ameliorates the safety of not only one society but the international community as an entity. An important means to reduce disaster losses is to enhance early warning systems. The technical progress of the last century and especially decades offers opportunities like never before. Early warning can nowadays include space based earth observation, climate modelling and weather forecasting. To make the early warning even more effective, the obtained information should concentrate especially on people in general but also set focus on regional and emerging risks.
Priority Action 3 - Use knowledge, innovation and education to build a culture of safety and resilence at all levels
Making a community more resilient to disasters starts in people's heads. But to be able to start in their heads, people must actually be aware of social, economic and environmental risks that they might face when a hazard strikes. To realize that, public awareness rising must be included into any program concerning disaster resilience. A steady presence in media, formal and informal education and the integration into school curricula could be potential solutions to disseminate the knowledge of disaster risks and share information in order to ensure dialogue and cooperation between different parties. Through creating networks on regional, national or international basis, the collaboration can be facilitated. However, it should not be the sole target to get people informed about Disaster Risk Reduction, also efforts must be made to train people how to react when facing an emergency. Based on that, the goal should be to provide equal access to training and learning about disaster risk reduction for everyone. Most effectively, training should be provided on community level with a special regard on local authorities and affected sectors. As local authorities have the responsibility in case of an emergency, it is particularly important that they are well prepared for any possible scenario. Equally, most affected sectors must be taken most into account in advance so that losses can be minimized.
Priority Action 4 - Reduce the underlying risk factors
Any hazard that takes place does not necessarily turn into a disaster, only when ecosystems, environment and human beings are either struck unprepared or are simply not able to cope with the effects during and after that hazard, a disaster follows. General destruction and loss that cannot be restored impact human and environmental systems short and long term. To strengthen those systems against hazards, measures must be taken to create more sustainable ecosystems and to manage environmental vulnerabilities. Since the unknown effects of climate change pose a special threat upon lives and assets, disaster risk reduction strategies must be integrated into existing climate change adaptation. Even though not every contingency can be foreseen, covering as many as possible is a step in the right direction. As basic needs are the most substantial for living, it must be a priority that they can always be delivered, even in emergency situations. Which indicates that it is most important to provide food and water security in order to enable any resilience. No human system can be resilient against disasters, if basic needs for survival are no longer accessible. Besides, DRR must especially be added to the health sector to ensure medical treatment at all times, no matter the exterior circumstances. This further includes making hospitals safer against catastrophes. Even when disaster preparedness is fairly promoted and trained, it is not 100% sure that people know how to react if a hazard strikes. Particularly as there are always residual risks, that no matter what stay unmanaged. Thus, developing recovery schemes and social safety nets would be a measure to prevent even greater losses and give people a perspective how to deal with their current situation. Furthermore, any economy with diversified income options is less vulnerable, and recovers more quickly than any economy depending on one or few sources of income. Consequently, efforts must be put up to develop any economy in that direction. Particularly economies of small island states and LEDCs must be taken in consideration. Financial risk-sharing mechanisms would additionally help to secure economic development and recovery. The rapid urbanization process in hazard prone areas further endangers lives and livelihoods. In these regions, inappropriate building standards and overused land multiply disaster risks. Correspondingly the introduction of building codes and better land use planning would reduce urban vulnerability. Although cities are most affected by disaster risks, rural areas must not be forgotten and DRR should be introduced in rural development planning.
Priority Action 5 - Strenghten disaster preparedness for effective response at all levels
Preparedness to a disaster is the basis for any good management. Founded on concerning policies, management capacities including technical and institutional capacities can only be available at full disposal during a disaster, when they have been prepared to be used at that disposal in advance. As mentioned before, realizing response at all levels demands dialogue and cooperation between disaster managers and development sectors. Only on a cooperational basis between all actors, a holistic regional approach focussing on response and risk reduction plans can be possible. To broaden the range of DRR, promoting community participation and voluntarism can ameliorate efforts and cooperation and make it more precise. Plus, through participation, it is taken care of public awareness. The more people participate on working on DRR, the more presence it has in a community. As a result, reviewing and exercising preparedness and contingency plans can become routine.
Sine its creation, the HFA has been adopted by many countries, especially those in hazard-prone areas. Furthermore the UN and its organizations used it as a foundation on DRR planning in general and for Action Plans specifically. The Rio20+ “The Future we want” conference emphasized the importance of working on DRR and climate change adaptation and in that context acknowledged the HFA particularly.
Post 2015 Agenda
Having approached 2015, the HFA comes to an end, which is why follow-up is required. It has to be acknowledged that the HFA as a basis helped working towards a more resilient future with less disaster loss and damage. Still, substantial disaster risk reduction demands perseverance and persistence, with a more precise focus on people, and their health and livelihoods. The Environmental Committee of BALMUN must therefore focus on creating a following system on disaster risk reduction that takes measures of the HFA and other plans concerning the issue, into account, while aiming at meeting the needs of people as explicitly as possible. Particularly multi-hazard approach, gender perspectives and cultural diversity, enabling further community participation, building capacities and transferring technology should be taken in further consideration.