How should the world protect itself from natural disasters and climate change? And who should be paying for this kind of protection? These and other questions are being asked at the United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction. The conference is taking place this week in Sendai, Japan. A powerful earthquake and tsunami struck the area four years ago.
A cold wind blows sand along the coast of Sendai. Japanese police officers are searching for evidence in the area. They are examining material washed up on the sand for signs of the March 2011 tsunami. Huge waves struck northern Japan and killed close to 16,000 people. More than 2,500 others are missing and thought to be dead.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited Sendai earlier this week. He praised the recovery effort as a model for others. "Sustainability （持续性）starts in Sendai. The disaster risk reduction can be a frontline against the climate change."
Last week, Cyclone（飓风） Pam struck the island nation of Vanuatu. The powerful storm changed its expected path at the last minute. The president of Vanuatu told the UN conference that development in his country had been stopped -- "wiped out" were his exact words.
In late 2004, an earthquake hit the northwestern coast of Indonesia, causing a tsunami across the Indian Ocean. More than 200,000 people were killed. The tsunami led the United Nations to approve a 10-year program for reducing disaster risk. It is called the Hyogo Framework for Action. That 10-year period is ending this week. Delegates to the conference are trying to reach a new agreement.
Delegates mostly agree that natural disasters are causing bigger problems. But they are having a difficult time deciding how to reduce the risks. The severe damage caused by Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu is pressuring them to reach an agreement on how the world should deal with natural disasters.