Natural disasters and their interface with human security challenge us at numerous levels. Natural disasters have claimed more lives and affected more people in recent years than ever before. In 2012 alone, there were 364 natural disasters, threatening approximately 139 million people worldwide and inflicting more than US$158 billion in damages. These events disrupt and erode livelihoods, increase the spread of infectious diseases and threaten the coping mechanisms of individuals and communities. Vulnerable groups are particularly at risk, not only from the immediate impacts of natural disasters but also from the knock-on risk factors such as displacement, growing competition over scarce resources and rising tensions. Since the consequences of natural disasters are multiple and often devastating in nature, a human security approach that helps mitigate the multidimensional consequences of natural disasters is an urgent priority and an important step in building the resilience and the capacities of communities to manage these risks in a sustainable manner.

On 17 March 2015, the Human Security Unit and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan, will host an event titled “Disaster Risk Reduction and Human Security: Effective Responses to Strengthen Resilience and Protect and Empower People in Response to Natural Disasters” at the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) in Sendai, Japan. The event will highlight the effectiveness of the human security approach in tackling disaster risk reduction and how it adds value to strengthening the resilience of communities, especially those most vulnerable. Through a combination of top-down protection and bottom-up empowerment measures that are people-centred, comprehensive, context-specific and prevention-oriented, the human security approach has proven to be an effective tool to prepare, adapt and mitigate the risks associated with natural disasters around the world.