The meeting starts rigth after the last day of the Diwali festival, hugely celebrated as I recall from our years in India. Spiritually Diwali signifies the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair. The timing of the conference could not have been chosen better in that regard as far as the Indian hosts are concerned. I am flying in on October 30, Amavasha, the highlight of Diwali, with new moon. When the moon has completely disappeared and lights are lit over the whole city. Must be an astonishing view from air (if not polluted). Beautiful rangoli art will be decorating floors and doorsteps to welcome Laxmi, the godess of wealth and fortune, into the homes.
However, the region is prone to disasters, bring poverty and misfortune to a a lot of homes. The Philippines is just recovering from two massive typhoons. Hence for the Ministers heading Disaster Management departments this meeting offers a good opportunity to compare notes about ways to reduce risks and search for the true diwali light that not only burns for the rich and wealthy but also turns ignorance into knowledge for the marginalized of society living in disaster prone places. Partners for Resilience will be presenting their key-statements in several sessions, highlighting the need to integrate Disaster Risk Reduction, Climate Change Adaptation and Ecosystem Management and Restoration, basically bringing together humanitarian aid, climate and development agenda's.
That leads me to point to yet another imporant High Level Meeting soon coming up in Nairobi, following an earlier gathering in Mexico City two years ago. This meeting is co-chaired by the Dutch minister for Aid and Trade, Lilianne Ploumen, emphasizing the need for partnership to achieve all sustainable development goals. An online consultation on a draft outcome document has just started. Will be good to contribute and support these efforts.
Anyway, to all my India colleagues I say: Happy Diwali!