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S'pore focused on long-term disaster risk mgt planning: Shanmugam

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The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Law, K Shanmugam, on Sunday said Singapore pays "particular attention" to disaster risk management, as the impact from the smallest incidents would be substantial because of the country's small size and high population density.

"Singapore is relatively free from natural disasters due to our geographical location. But we are not spared from natural disasters nearby. We are also not immune from man-made disasters and threats such as terrorism," said Mr Shanmugam, who was attending the third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Japan.

"We therefore pay particular attention to disaster risk management. We consider it an important part of sustainable development."

He also urged more long-term planning in the area of disaster risk reduction and in finding "a global solution to climate change", pointing to statistics from the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction that showed 87 per cent of disasters over a 10-year period have been related to climate change.

The Asia-Pacific is also one of the world's most disaster-prone areas, with nearly half of the world's reported natural disasters between 2004 and 2013, occurring in this region.

"It is tempting for policy makers to focus on the immediate and defer seemingly distant problems. But we have seen how disasters can happen without warning. And often, the result is great devastation," said Mr Shanmugam.

"Singapore's approach has been to plan for the long term. We integrate disaster risk reduction into our national development plans and policies. All our reclaimed land, for example, stands at 2.25 meters above the highest recorded water levels."

Singapore welcomes the adoption of a post-2015 Hyogo Framework for Action, he said. This is a plan to explain, describe and detail the work that is required from all different sectors and actors to reduce disaster losses.

Mr Shanmugam also reaffirmed Singapore's readiness to provide humanitarian assistance to Vanuatu in light of the devastation and loss of life brought about by Cyclone Pam.

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