It is a pleasure and honour for me to be a part of this important focus event on the IPCC Special Report on Climate Extremes (the SREX report).
I come from a city in western Norway called Bergen. This is the wettest city in Norway. It will become even wetter. To adapt, the municipality of Bergen invests heavily in an improved drainage system separating rain water from the sewage to avoid flooding. Let me also ad that just before going on this trip I received a message saying that the roof of my house in Bergen is leaking. This shows that we all have to prepare; at the international level, at the national level, at municipality level and at an individual level.
In order to prepare in the right way, we have to establish the best possible knowledge about what is happening. I am pleased that Norway has been able to make a contribution towards facilitating this vast collaborative effort of more than 80 lead authors and several hundred researchers and experts that we are launching here today.
The main message of the report is very clear: as a result of climate change our challenge is that we will have to face more extreme weather conditions. We will have to face it more frequently. And we will have to face it in new places.
Climatic changes will occur and will affect Ethiopia and the neighbouring countries. We expect dry areas to become drier and wet areas to become wetter.
The extent of the consequences of these events will depend on how well we prepare.
Local resilience strategies are developed through ages, but have to be adapted.
The risk of extreme events should be included in planning and development strategies both at local, national, regional and global level.
Avoiding global warming through reduction of greenhouse gases is of course what we should aim at. The one that pollutes the most, should do the the most. However, we cannot rely on reduction alone. It is a fact that mitigation and adaptation can complement each other and together significantly reduce the risks of natural disasters.
Disaster prevention and preparedness is the key for reducing the costs of extreme weather and climate events. This report, as well as others (e.g. the World Bank report launched a year ago - Natural Hazards, UnNatural Disasters), shows that prevention and preparedness pays off, if done right.
We still need to improve our response to disasters, but prevention is more efficient and saves lives.
As always, the most vulnerable are the poor - in all societies. And women and children constitute the overwhelming majority of all fatalities from weather-related events. Women, children and young people must be at the centre of disaster risk planning processes at all levels. Other relevant actors must also be included: civil society, local authorities and the private sector.
Representing increased risks and potential harm in all countries, extreme weather and climate events represents a particular challenge for developing countries. As a consequence Norway is increasing its allocations to developing countries for climate change adaptation and disaster prevention and preparedness measures.
Prevention and development strategies should go hand in hand. Tomorrow I will go on a field trip to Mekelle to study agricultural projects where climate change adaptation is a main aim. Ethiopa has gone a long way when it comes to saving lives during drought. In this regard the agricultural sector is a key sector.
Preparedness and climate change adaptation is inherently interlinked. We need to plan and build better for a safer today and a safer tomorrow.
This special report of the IPCC provides a firm foundation for our future work on these issues, which will continue to be focused on the poorest countries, and on women and children.
I look forward to the exchanges here and wish you every success in your efforts.