the World Conference on Disaster Reduction?
The World Conference on Disaster Reduction
(WCDR) is a milestone event to increase the profile of disaster
risk reduction in development planning and practice. The
Conference will provide a unique opportunity to promote a
strategic and systematic approach at the national level to
address vulnerabilities and to reduce risk to natural hazards.
to the reduction of disasters has been growing although actual
materialization is still slow. Human and economic losses
due to natural disasters continue to rise and remain as a
major obstacle to sustainable development and achievement
of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). New risks are
emerging. The WCDR is expected to guide and motivate governments
and their policy makers to pay more attention to such vital
issues, identifying practical ways to incorporate risk reduction
measures into action to reduce poverty.
will build on the findings of the review of the implementation
of the Yokohama Strategy and Plan of Action of 1994,
achievements and identifying good practices;
the remaining challenges, critical needs and opportunities
in disaster reduction initiatives worldwide and examining
emerging issues; and,
a set of objectives and areas of action for disaster risk
reduction to implement the objectives of the Johannesburg
Plan of Implementation for Sustainable Development, as
essential conditions to achieve the relevant Millennium
Development Goals (MDG's).
is scheduled to be held on 18-22 January 2005 in Kobe, Hyogo,
Japan and will take place immediately after the commemoration
of the tenth anniversary of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake
which struck Kobe and its neighbouring area in the early
hours on 17 January 1995, killing more than 6,400 people
and injuring about 40,000.
Strategy and Plan of Action
The ‘Yokohama Strategy
and Plan of Action for a Safer World’ was adopted at the World Conference
on Natural Disaster Reduction (May 1994, Yokohama, Japan), as the main outcome
of the mid-term review of the International Decade of Natural Disaster Reduction
of the Yokohama Strategy
assessment is a required step for the adoption
of adequate and successful disaster reduction policies
prevention and preparedness are of primary importance
in reducing the need for disaster relief.
prevention and preparedness should be considered
integral aspects of development policy and planning
at national, regional, bilateral, multilateral
and international levels.
development and strengthening of capacities to
prevent, reduce and mitigate disasters is a top
warnings of impending disasters and their effective
dissemination using telecommunications, including
broadcast services, are key factors to successful
disaster prevention and preparedness.
measures are most effective when they involve participation
at all levels, from the local community through
the national government to the regional and international
can be reduced by the application of proper design
and patterns of development focused on target groups,
by appropriate education and training of the whole
international community accepts the need to share
the necessary technology to prevent, reduce and
mitigate disaster; this should be made freely available
and in a timely manner as an integral part of technical
protection as a component of sustainable development
consistent with poverty alleviation is imperative
in the prevention and mitigation of natural disasters.
country bears the primary responsibility for protecting
its people, infrastructure, and other national
assets from the impact of natural disasters. The
international community should demonstrate strong
political determination required to mobilize adequate
and make efficient use of existing resources, in
the field of natural disaster reduction, bearing
in mind the needs of the developing countries,
particularly the least developed countries.
UN General Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/58/214 on 23
December 2003, stating the Conference objectives as follows:
- To conclude
and report on the review of the Yokohama Strategy and its
Plan of Action, with a view to updating the guiding framework
on disaster reduction for the twenty-first century;
identify specific activities aimed at ensuring the implementation
of relevant provisions of the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation
of the World Summit on Sustainable Development on
vulnerability, risk assessment and disaster management;
share best practices and lessons learned to further disaster
reduction within the context of attaining sustainable development,
and to identify gaps and challenges;
increase awareness of the importance of disaster reduction
policies, thereby facilitating and promoting the implementation
of those policies;
increase the reliability and availability of appropriate
disaster-related information to the public and disaster
management agencies in all regions, as set out in relevant
provisions of the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.
outcome of the Conference
the objectives set out by the General Assembly, the main outcome
of the Conference is foreseen in the following areas:
awareness, recognition and political endorsement for implementing
disaster risk reduction and mobilizing local, national
and international resources.
directions and priorities for action at international,
regional, national and local levels to ensure implementation
of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR)
and to support the achievement of the objectives of the
Johannesburg Plan of Implementation and the Millennium
of a set of goals and policy measures to guide and stimulate
the implementation of disaster risk reduction, both on
what to achieve and 'how-to-do' risk reduction.
of specific initiatives and partnerships to support the
implementation of the International Strategy for Disaster
17 January 1995 the Great Hanshin-Awaji earthquake
struck the Hyogo prefecture, including the City of
Kobe (population 1.5 million), resulting in thousands
of fatalities. It was the first major earthquake in
a large city in a developed country in recent history.
The people of the city of Kobe as well as the Hyogo
Prefecture will commemorate the tenth anniversary of
the tragedy on 17 January 2005.
on the Pacific Ring of Fire, Japan has a long
history of living with geological hazards such
as earthquakes. Heavy snow in the northern parts
in the winter, and frequent tropical storms or
typhoons approaching from the south are but a
few examples of hydrological hazards in Japan.
such a wide array of experiences coping with
natural hazards to learn from, Japan is one of
the leading countries in disaster reduction engineering
has spent around 1 per cent of its annual governmental
budget on disaster countermeasures since the
1950s such as the promotion of national conservation
projects, improvement in weather forecasting
technologies and the development of disaster
management systems. Japan has shown that through
commitment and consistent effort the negative
impacts of hazards can be greatly reduced, contributing
to more sustainable development.
World Conference on Natural Disaster Reduction was held in
Yokohama, Japan in 1994. Since then the "Yokohama Strategy
for a Safer World: Guidelines for Natural Disaster Prevention,
Preparedness and Mitigation" and its Plan of Action have
served as the international blueprint in the field of disaster
reduction. The review of the achievements, gaps and critical
challenges facing the international community since its adoption
is currently underway and will be presented at the Conference.
the World Summit on Sustainable Development, Johannesburg,
South Africa, 26August-4 September 2002 (United Nations publication,
Sales No. E.03.II.A.1 and corrigendum), chap. I, resolution