International Day for Disaster Reduction

ILO: Disaster Risk Reduction key to saving lives, livelihoods and businesses

ILO encourages employment-centered response in line with its Recommendation 205.

Statement | 13 October 2017
Today we focus on the hundreds of millions of people threatened by natural disasters every year, and what the world should do to protect them. The devastating impact of these extreme events on lives and livelihoods, economic assets and infrastructure highlights the importance of promoting a global culture of disaster risk reduction.

In 2016, 445 million people were affected by catastrophic events linked to natural hazards worldwide. In the first six months of 2017, more than 80 million people were impacted mainly by floods, landslides and prolonged droughts in Asia, South America and Africa, while hurricanes devastated Caribbean islands and parts of the United States, and waves of earthquakes hit Mexico.

The most vulnerable are disproportionately affected with disasters forcing 26 million people into poverty every year. Disaster risk management has become all the more critical as the number of extreme weather events doubled over the last 40 year, increasing exposure and vulnerability.

Working with its tripartite constituents – governments and employers’ and workers’ organizations – the ILO encourages an employment-centred response to disasters in an approach which seeks to address immediate needs guided by a long-term vision of building the resilience of societies through risk management and mitigation strategies that integrate policies for decent work.

This is spelt out in the new ILO Recommendation No.205 on employment and decent work for peace and resilience adopted by the International Labour Conference in June 2017.

Key steps to a sustainable positive change after disasters include skills development, employment promotion, and business continuity management, the restoration of an enabling environment for sustainable enterprises and the strengthening of social protection schemes. 

Also essential are efforts to engage youth, who in crisis situations are at high risk of being deprived of education, training and job opportunities. Based on local ownership, social dialogue, equality and non-discrimination, these initiatives can empower the most vulnerable, make local economies more resilient and prepare communities better to withstand future disasters.

ILO Recommendation 205 provides a unique platform to enhance cooperation with other UN entities promoting cultural and behavioral change towards disaster risk management for prevention, recovery, reconstruction and resilience, including in the world of work.