UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mr. John Holmes, challenging the international community to enhancing international cooperation to reduce the negative impacts of fire on the environment and humanity

UNUnder-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mr. John Holmes, challengingthe international community to enhancing international cooperation to reduce thenegative impacts of fire on the environment and humanity

14 May 2007

published by the Global FireMonitoring Center


GFMC,Freiburg (Germany) and Sevilla (Spain) – In a public address delivered at theopening of the 4th International Wildland Fire Conference in Sevilla,Spain, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mr.John Holmes, challengedthe international community to foster efforts in international cooperation infire management. He noted that it has been recognized that fire has its place innature and must be managed carefully. However, there are signs indicating thatnatural and sustainable anthropogenic fire regimes are changing. Land-use andland-use change, the dependence of growing human populations on the naturalenvironment, as well as the impacts of regional climate change, result in anincreasing vulnerability of societies and an increasing risk of wildfiresdisasters.

Hestressed the need of international cooperation to address the growing fireproblems worldwide. The need of international, mutual assistance betweencountries in managing large fire disasters is obvious. The Under-SecretaryGeneral underlined, however, that fire prevention and preparedness are mosteffective in reducing the risk of large, less controllable fire disasters.

Heturned the attention to the GlobalWildland Fire Network.The Global Wildland Fire Network, which provides an umbrella of 13 RegionalWildland Fire Networks worldwide, is one of the most active programmes operatingunder the auspices of the UnitedNations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction(UN/ISDR). The last global fire assessments conducted in 2000 and 2006 werebased on inputs of the Regional Wildland Fire Networks. With this informationand data the United Nations agencies have obtained a realistic picture of thedimension of fire use, wildfire occurrence and the impacts of fire on planetEarth. This information is enabling the UN system to respond within the scope ofthe mandates of UN specialized agencies and programmes.

Heunderlined the intent of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction tocontinue supporting the Global Wildland Fire Network and its AdvisoryGroup. Both bodies areimportant for the implementation of the HyogoFramework for Action 2005-2015 “Building the Resilience of Nations andCommunities to Disasters”,which was formulated by the World Conference on Disaster Reduction in 2005. Thedevelopment of a GlobalWildland Fire Early Warning Systemwithin the envisaged multi-hazard Global Early Warning System, proposed byformer UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in 2005, will be an essential improvement.The UNISDR International EarlyWarning Programme isfacilitating the realization of this ambitious endeavour.

Mr.Holmes said that the conference is an important milestone for recommending actionin view of a possible GlobalStrategy to Enhance International Cooperation in Wildland Fire Management.He congratulated the Government of Spain and the Regional Government ofAndalusia for accepting the challenge of organizing and hosting the 4thInternational Wildland Fire Conference. The outcomes of this conference would becrucial for the consolidation and functioning of the Global Wildland FireNetwork and the effective implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action andthe ISDR.

Hethanked all representatives of the international community for coming to Sevillaand contributing to the success of the conference and to be part of a process,which will contribute to sustainable development and protection of the world’svegetation resources and to reduce the negative impacts of fire on theenvironment and humanity.

Mr.Douglas Pattie, Senior Coordinator of the UN/ISDRPlatform for the Promotion of the Early Warning delivered the openingaddress.

Originaltext of the Opening Address of the 4th International Wildland FireConference by the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mr. JohnHolmes:

 Formore information on the 4th International Wildland Fire Conferencesee:

Informationon the UNISDR Global Wildland Fire Network and the Global Fire Monitoring Center(GFMC):


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