Disaster Reduction for Sustainable Mountain Development
The United Nations
World Disaster Reduction Campaigns
The United Nations World Disaster Reduction Campaigns
As every year since the early nineties, the United Nations is organizing
a World Disaster Reduction Campaign, which culminates on International
Disaster Reduction Day, the second Wednesday of October, 9 October
The main aim of each World Disaster Reduction Campaign is to increase
public awareness, worldwide and across all professional sectors,
about the measures that can be taken to reduce risk and vulnerabilities
of societies and communities to the negative impacts of natural hazards.
The campaigns are based on a different theme every year.
The World Disaster Reduction Campaigns are organized by the Secretariat
of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, located in
Each campaign starts with the circulation of an announcement indicating
the theme of the campaign, the planned support material and a call
Information material is then prepared and circulated worldwide,
together with suggested activities to be undertaken at the international,
regional, national and local level. Special events are held on
International Day for Disaster Reduction. The campaigns are organized
in close collaboration with ISDR’s partner organizations
in all sectors.
Please see below for the 2002 World Disaster Reduction Campaign.
Information on past campaigns can be obtained from the website of
the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction Secretariat at
Mountains - A Stage for Natural Disasters
Mountains are high-energy environments. This causes many challenges
in relation to minimising the natural hazards that result from
high rain and snowfall, variations in temperature, steep slopes,
activity and tectonic movement (earthquakes). The risks associated
with mountain environments are growing rapidly with increases in
resident and visiting populations. While some processes are very
rapidlava and ash flows, rockslides, rock falls, debris flows – gradual
processes such as soil erosion can also put the lives and livelihoods
of mountain people at risk. Mountain people have extensive experience
and are aware of the locations and likelihood of natural hazards.
But such knowledge is not always used or recognised, especially
in the case of slowonset natural hazards. Also, catastrophic events
such as glacial lake outbursts and debris avalanches related to
eruptions may have long return periods or may have multiple causes.
They are therefore difficult to predict. Mountain areas are therefore
a good platform to illustrate what has been done and what still
needs to be done to reduce the socio-economic impact of natural
on populations at risk.
Disaster Reduction for Sustainable Mountain Development
The first aim of the 2002 World Disaster Reduction Campaign is therefore
to increase global awareness of successful disaster reduction efforts
in mountain areas so that vulnerable mountain populations can benefit
from already existing experiences.
The second aim of the 2002 Campaign is to raise awareness more generally
on disaster reduction, so that past and new solutions in vulnerability
and risk reduction can be explained and shared.
For communities worldwide to avoid the sometimes fatal set backs
natural disasters can create, disaster reduction needs to be an
essential component of sustainable development planning, a need which
acute for mountain communites. Underlining and promoting this over-arching
principle is the third aim of this year’s campaign.
Support material of the 2002 UN World Disaster Reduction Campaign
The following items are in preparation and will be circulated worldwide
as of May 2002 to help highlight this year’s theme and
prepare for the celebrations of the International Day for Disaster
on 9 October 2002. All items below will be available in the official
languages of the United Nations, namely Arabic, Chinese, English,
French, Russian and Spanish.
- Information booklet (facts and figures on mountains and
- examples of successful disaster reduction cases)
Children’s booklet on Disaster
- Reduction and Volcanoes
Additional Information Background
The United Nations has proclaimed 2002 as the International Year
of Mountains (IYM) to increase international awareness of the global
importance of mountain life and its sustainability. The International
Year of Mountains represents an important step in the long-term
process initiated by the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. One
of the major outcomes of this Conference was Agenda 21, a global
blueprint for sustainable development into the 21st century. Agenda
21’s Chapter 13, entitled “Managing Fragile Ecosystems:
Sustainable Mountain Development”, placed mountains as a
key issue in the global debate on environment and development.
Please check www.mountains2002.org for more information.
Key Definitions What is a natural hazard?
Natural hazards comprise phenomena such as earthquakes; volcanic
activity; landslides; tsunamis, tropical cyclones and other severe
storms; tornadoes and high winds; river floods and coastal flooding;
wildfires and associated haze; drought; sand/dust storms; insect
What is a natural disaster?
A so called natural disaster is the result of the impact of a natural
hazard on a socio-economic system with a given level of vulnerability,
which prevents the affected society from coping adequately with
this impact. Natural hazards themselves do not necessarily lead
to disasters. It is only their interaction with people and their
environment that generates impacts, which may reach disastrous
proportions. The ISDR encompasses technical and environmental disasters
only when caused by natural hazards. A disaster is usually defined
serious disruption of the functioning of society, causing widespread
human, material or environmental losses which exceed the ability
of the affected society to cope using only its own resources (IDNDR/DHA
DEFINITIONS OF CORE CONCEPTS DISASTER REDUCTION
involves measures designed to avoid (PREVENTION) or limit (MITIGATION
and PREPAREDNESS) the adverse impact of natural hazards and related
environmental and technological disasters.
involves the outright avoidance of the adverse impact of natural
hazards and related environmental and technological disasters.
Good planning is an example of disaster prevention, i.e. the decision
not to build houses in a disaster-prone area for example.
involves measures taken to limit the adverse impact of natural hazards
and related environmental and technological disasters. Examples
of mitigation are the
retrofitting of buildings or the installation of flood control dams,
training and legislation
involves measures taken in advance to ensure effective response to
the impact of disasters. Preparedness measures include effective
evacuation infrastructures or the regular testing of warning systems.
The International Strategy for Disaster Reduction
The UN has established the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction
as a global framework for action with a view to enabling all societies
to become resilient to the effects of natural hazards and related
technological and environmental disasters, in order to reduce human,
economic and social losses. It involves a conceptual shift from
an emphasis on disaster response to the management of risk through
the integration of disaster reduction into sustainable development.
The implementation of the Strategy is premised on the establishment
of partnerships between governments, civil society organizations,
UN agencies, the scientific community, the media as well as other
relevant stakeholders in the disaster reduction community. The
four goals of the Strategy are to increase public awareness about
disaster reduction, to obtain commitment from public authorities,
to stimulate inter-disciplinary and inter-sectoral partnerships,
and to improve the scientific knowledge of the causes of natural
disasters and the consequences of the impact of natural hazards.
The UN General Assembly has mandated two additional tasks which
are directly relevant to disaster reduction; the continuance of
international cooperation to reduce the impacts of El Niño and La Niña and the strengthening
of disaster reduction capacity through Early Warning measures.
The ISDR Secretariat is looking for input for the brochure which is being produced
for the 2002 Campaign. The input should not be longer than one page each and
should illustrate successful examples of disaster reduction efforts in mountain
areas. These examples will be published in a brochure and sent world-wide and
cross-sectorally to inform the widest possible audiences of the efforts made
by community based organizations (CBOs), UN bodies, NGOs, technical and scientific
institutions etc… to reduce risk and vulnerbilities to natural hazards.
Please send your material to Nicole Appel, Promotion and Public Awareness Officer,
ISDR Secretariat, 52 rue des Pâquis, 1201 Geneva, Switzerland, Tel: +41
22 917 97 06, Fax +41 22 917 90 98 email: [email protected]