The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR and formerly UNISDR) statement on Chile forest fires

The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR and formerly UNISDR) statement on Chile forest fires

The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR and formerly UNISDR) expresses condolences and solidarity with the people and government of Chile as they battle growing forest fires.  

As the death toll exceeds 100, this disaster is believed to be Chile’s deadliest forest fire on record with expectations that the death toll will grow. The Chilean National Disaster Prevention and Response Service (SENAPRED) has stated that it has delivered more than 560 tons of aid and has urged communities at risk to develop response plans and to take measures to reduce the risk of forest fires, which are highlighted on its website: Wildfires | SENAPRED 

These fires come less than two weeks after Colombia issued a disaster declaration due to raging fires and asked for international assistance. Regionally, between 2000 and 2019, an average of 33 million hectares (Mha) of land are estimated to have been affected by wildfires in Latin America every year. In this time span, there were approximately 1.47 million fires in Latin America, according to the Wildfires in Latin America report by The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR and formerly UNISDR) and UN’s regional Issue-Based Coalition on Climate Change and Resilience. 

Globally, forest fires are becoming “more widespread, burning nearly twice as much tree cover today as they did 20 years ago,” according to researchers who examined data from the Global Forest Watch. Future projections are also grim. A 2022 report by the UN Environment Programme anticipates a global increase of extreme fires of up to 14 per cent by 2030 due to climate change and land-use change. 

This makes it imperative that countries invest in reducing the risk of forest fires.  

“As we saw with the fires that raged across Europe last year and the devastating fire that occurred in the US state of Hawaii, countries everywhere must complement investments in fire response capabilities with investments in fire prevention. This includes investing in preparedness and early warning systems that are multi-hazard and cover everyone,” said Acting Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, Ms. Paola Albrito. 

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