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Enhancing International Cooperation on Disaster Prevention and Mitigation,Jointly Addressing Water Disasters and Challenges
  2017-01-16 10:23  

Enhancing International Cooperation on Disaster Prevention and MitigationJointly Addressing Water Disasters and Challenges

——Speech on the Second Eastern Economic Forum


H.E. Mr. CHEN Lei

Ministry of Water Resources, People’s Republic of China

September 2nd, 2016


Ladies and gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to be able to participate in the Second Eastern Economic Forum in the beautiful harbor city of Vladivostok. It is of great significance and far reaching influence that the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations is hosting this forum themed on Ensuring Investment Attractiveness in the Far East: The Role of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. At the outset, on behalf of the Ministry of Water Resources of China, I would like to extend our warm congratulations on the opening of the forum.

In recent years, against the aggravating impact of global climate change, there is an obvious increase in the abruptness, abnormality and uncertainty of natural disasters, posing huge threat to the life security of people all over the world, seriously constraining the global socio-economic development. According to the report of the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, disasters of all kinds during 2005 to 2015 around the globe have left over 700,000 people died, more than 1.4 million injured and about 23 million homeless. The total number of people affected has exceeded 1.5 billion with overall economic loss of more than $1.3 trillion. At the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR), 187 countries, including China and Russia, adopted the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, identifying the disaster reduction objectives and priority actions, demonstrating the absolute determination of all countries to jointly rise up to the challenge of natural disasters. 

China is one of the most seriously affected countries of natural disasters, suffering from frequent visits of water related disasters including floods, droughts, typhoons, landslides, and debris flows, etc. Chinese government attaches great importance to flood control and disaster reduction, always regarding the development of water resources and the reduction of water disaster as the priority of national governance and social stability. Hence, specific efforts have been devoted to various aspects of flood control, drought relief and disaster mitigation, as follows:

First, building innovative ideas on disaster reduction putting people first. The top priority of flood prevention and resistance as well as drought relief and disaster mitigation is to ensure the life security and water supply security of people, with the main focus on prevention combined with disaster resistance and relief. Normal disaster reduction is carried out combined with emergency rescue. While effectively controlling floods, we also give room to floods, taking active measures to fight against disasters while avoiding and mitigating disasters. Second, improving disaster prevention capability by completing the engineering system. By properly arranging  the construction of reservoirs, dikes and flood detention areas, etc., we are strengthening the regulation of large, medium and small rivers, the reinforcement of reservoirs and sluice gates, the prevention and control of mountain torrents, the connectivity of water systems consisting rivers, lakes and reservoirs, and the construction of water source projects for drought resistance. Our objective is to build a nationwide flood control and drought relief engineering system with reasonable layout and complete functions. Third, effectively controlling disaster risk by prioritizing prevention measures. We try to be as prepared as possible for disasters with improved monitoring and early warning system, complete emergency response plans and down-to-earth preparation measures. Consistent work has been done to strengthen people’s disaster prevention, self-rescue and mutual assistance capability by continuous public education and reach-out activities. Forth, creating a synergy by coordinated regulation of water projects including reservoirs, hydropower stations, lakes, gate dams, river channels and flood detention areas, etc. With the overall arrangements of measures for flood control, including blocking, diverting, storing, retaining and draining, and measures for drought relief, including storing, diverting, drawing, transferring and connecting, we try to bring the comprehensive benefits of engineering projects into full play. Fifth, sticking to law-based prevention and control measures, strengthening the accountability. A legal system has been established with the Water Law and the Flood Control Law as the main part, supplemented by the relevant rules and regulations for flood preparation and drought relief. The accountability system is established with the administrative governor as the primary responsible person, supported with the supervision and monitoring system so as to reaffirm the responsibility of disaster preparation and reduction at different levels. Sixth, building synergy for disaster resistance with a sound organizational system. The commanding bodies consist of five levels from the central government, river basin authority to the provincial, municipal and county level government. In the meantime, thousands of emergency rescue teams are established consisting both experts and general public, both military and civil forces. By then, a disaster resistance system is established under the unified command of the government with the coordinated effort of all related departments and the wide participation of the entire society.

With the comprehensive disaster reduction system for floods, droughts and typhoons, China has effectively coped with the frequent water and drought disasters. Due to the extreme El Nino phenomena, China’s flood season this year started early, bringing about more precipitation processes and furious floods. Typhoons landed with a higher frequency and magnitude, and flood disasters occurred in multiple places in both North and South China, which is a quite rare situation over many years. With the detailed arrangement ahead of time, Chinese government launched the emergency response system. By the appropriate regulation of water projects including the Three Gorges project and the cascade reservoirs on the Yangtze River, we realized orderly peak clipping and averting by blocking and retaining flood. As a result, we have achieved major victory in flood control and resistance in the current stage. There has been no dam collapse at any large or medium reservoir, no breach at any section of mainstream dikes along the main rivers. With the risk at all rivers, lakes and reservoirs under effective control, people’s life security has received a strong protection with disaster loss minimized.

As a responsible developing country, China has actively participated in the international cooperation and exchanges of disaster reduction. In terms of hydrological information provision, China has established cooperation mechanism with its neighboring countries and the Mekong River Commission to provide the later with hydrological data of flood season at regular intervals. In terms of emergency response, when there were serious droughts in the Ili river basin and the Mekong river basin, Chinese government did its best to increase the water discharge to downstream areas, which effectively relieved the drought in downstream countries. In terms of technical support, we sent experts to help the Thai government formulate the flood control emergency plan. We also went to Myanmar for technical consultancy of flood control. We also helped some developing countries in their development of water resources planning. In terms of foreign aid, with our technical advantages in water resources and hydropower development, we helped construct a great number of water related projects abroad. We enforced the initiative of Lightening Africa with the development of small hydro in  Africa, and assisted in rainwater harvest and utilization. In terms of multilateral cooperation, Chinese government has taken proactive measures to participate in international disaster reduction activities and projects led by UN and actively engaged in the relevant technical exchange. With the establishment of China Fund for South-South Cooperation against Climate Change, we are planning to integrate the disaster preparation and reduction strategy into global development agenda.

Ladies and gentlemen,

China and Russia are intimate neighbours, partners and friends connected by mountains and rivers. Over decades, the two parties have carried out profound cooperation for disaster prevention and mitigation in practical manners, such as the cooperation in the 2013 extreme flood in Heilongjiang river basin, making great contribution to the deepening of bilateral relations while setting examples for the rest of the world. In recent years, with the overall China-Russia strategic cooperative partnership entering a new stage of development, we are witnessing a closer ties in water related disaster preparation and mitigation, which are exemplified in the following aspects:

First, the cooperation mechanism for flood control has been constantly consolidated. In June 2014, we signed the Memorandum of Understanding between China and Russia on Trans-boundary Waters and Flood Control. The two parties established a joint working group, which have special meetings and mutual visits every year to strengthen the overall cooperation in flood control. Second, water regime data are shared on a wider scale. Since the flood season of 2015, in addition to the original data, each party began to provid water data for another two key reservoirs and 15 hydrological stations in case of flood above the warning level, which provided strong support for scientific warning of disasters. Third, cooperation in ice jam prevention and disaster mitigation has been carried out in practical manners. Each year, the relevant regional authorities of two parties meet to analyze the ice flood situation during the river ice break-up period in spring in order to coordinate the bilateral efforts in breaking ice and preventing ice jams, which effectively avoided disasters and losses. Forth, remarkable accomplishment has been achieved in emergency cooperation for flood control. In August 2015, when the coastal border city Ussuriysk of Russia suffered flood, Chinese Ministry of Water Resources provided the Russian side with the information relating to the flood situation and engineering situation of Suifen River, providing important reference for Russian side to properly cope with the flood disaster.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Water related disasters are the common threat to the entire human being. Therefore the prevention and reduction of disaster require the joint effort of all countries. Availing this opportunity, I would like to make a few proposals:

First, we should comprehensively implement the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2020. Starting from the seven disaster reduction objectives in the Framework, all governments should focus on the four priority areas of action, fully promote the implementation of relevant subjects. Second, specific efforts need to be taken to step up the technological cooperation in disaster prevention and reduction. There should be intensified technical exchange, project cooperation, joint research and personnel training among countries in order to share the experience and achievement in disaster prevention and reduction. Third, south-north and south-south cooperation need to be invigorated. More capital and technical assistance need to be provided to developing countries, especially those least developed ones, encouraging and supporting these countries to expand cooperation in flood control and drought relief on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit. Forth, the capability of water disaster resistance needs to be enhanced for all countries. We should help all countries enhance their capacity building, improve the monitoring and early warning network as well as the water infrastructure system, so as to improve the overall capability against water and drought disasters.

Ladies and gentlemen,

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the signing of Sino-Russia Good Neighborly Treaty of Friendship as well as the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the overall Sino-Russia strategic cooperative partnership. Chinese Ministry of Water Resources would like to join hands with the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situation to further our overall cooperation in the field of disaster prevention and reduction. It is our sincere hope that all countries in the world could strengthen their communication and cooperation, share experience and technology, working hand in hand to cope with natural disasters, making further contribution to the sustainable development of the whole world.