Mesdames et Messieurs les maires,
Cher-e-s ami-e-de Genève, de la Suisse, et d’ailleurs.
I will continue to speak in English, and trust you will all understand me despite my Swiss/French accent.
I am very pleased to welcome you to the Palais Eynard, at the heart of the City of Geneva. The authorities and my colleagues at the City government are delighted to be able to exchange views on the subject of the disasters that threaten our cities.
How can they be avoided? How can their impact be contained? How can experiences be shared and information circulated? These are some of the questions we will take up during this conference.
Some among you, being informed observers of our country, will say that the main disaster that threatens the city of Geneva, and Switzerland, is the end of bank secrecy. Though I cannot prove them completely wrong, I would point out that this phenomenon has been, for the time being, victimless. Apart from certain movie stars and some tennis players.
My political opponents will tell you that an even greater danger hangs over Geneva: dirtiness. This attack is of the nature that would make any Swiss politician tremble. If on your way here, you have found an empty soda can or picked up an old plastic bag, I would be grateful if you would keep it to yourselves and do not inform the press.
Seriously now, it is obvious that each one of us have our own definition of disaster, closely linked to our experiences, our culture and our environment.
Often, in a good number of countries, global warming has directly or indirectly amplified natural disasters. Certain regions of the globe, from north to south, live under the constant dread of a hurricane, a cyclone, a tidal wave or an earthquake. Each time, tens of thousands of people lose their homes, or worse, their lives.
How can we touch upon this subject without mentioning the dreadful drama in Bangladesh where some 1250 workers lost their lives in the collapse of a garment factory? If we are to be honest, we must admit that though the dead, in this case, are in the south, the real causes of the disaster can be found anywhere around the globe.
This tragedy in Bangladesh is a sad illustration of a global disaster that deserves a global reflection.
How can we make our cities more resilient? Resilience, in its psychological acceptance, as theorized by the French psychiatrist Boris Cyrulnik, has two components: the ability to overcome a trial and the need to draw useful conclusions so as to avoid, to the extent possible, that it happens again.
To reach the second objective, sharing information is of the essence. The main risk in a city like Geneva, which is obviously not immune to an air disaster, a fire or an industrial accident,is to forget that we must constantly learn from others, confront our theoretical certainties to practice and systematically question our rescue models in order to improve them. Being the magistrate in charge of the municipal police and firefighters in Geneva, I am obviously very sensitive to this matter. Thank you again for your presence here in Geneva and, while awaiting the start of our work, I invite you this evening on behalf of the City of Geneva, to share, free of danger, a friendship drink.