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December 2005
Inter-Agency Task Force on Disaster Reduction 12th session, Geneva, Switzerland, 22-23 November
The Inter-Agency Task Force on Disaster Reduction met for its 12th session, from the 22-23 November, in Geneva, Switzerland. The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mr. Jan Egeland, chaired the meeting.

The objectives of the 12th session were to:
  • Learn from major disasters over the past year, to see how the Hyogo Framework implementation and promotion could help to address the gaps; and,
  • Discuss and agree on modalities for the enhanced ISDR system, to become functional in 2006.
An Expert Panel on "Transforming disaster experiences into opportunities: What recent disasters are telling us" (with panelists from Switzerland, Indonesia, Pakistan, India and the World Bank), identified key issues and recommendations for the ISDR system. The panelists examined root causes of disasters that should be addressed to avoid future losses resulting from natural hazards. They also discussed the performance of current national strategies, plans and investments, and their underlying vulnerabilities.

In 2006, the Inter-Agency Task Force will evolve into a broader forum, which will include active government participation, to be called the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction. A smaller group of the Task Force will work with the ISDR secretariat in preparing the basis for an integrated work programme for the ISDR system and members, based on key areas and gaps identified in the Hyogo Framework. The Oversight Management Board for the ISDR system will be constituted in January 2006.

Topics for public awareness raising campaigns were also discussed at the meeting. It was recommended that no more than three key topics should be addressed over the next five years. In 2006-2007 the theme of the public awareness campaign will be "Prevention Starts at School", followed by themes focusing on safer infrastructure and buildings, including homes and safer cities.

Several side events took place in the margins of the Task Force meeting; for example, events were held on information, a practical implementation guide for the Hyogo Framework, and the international recovery platform.

Documents from the IATF/DR-12 session are available on the ISDR website:

World Conference on Disaster Reduction, Focus on Role and Responsibility of the Corporate Sector, Mumbai, India, 16-18 November
ISDR co-sponsored and participated in the World Conference on Disaster Reduction meeting, Focus on Role and Responsibility of the Corporate Sector, held in Mumbai, India 16-18 November. The India-based Global Forum jointly organized the meeting for Disaster Reduction, New Media, and CMP Asia. OCHA, UNDP, and the Asian Disaster Reduction Center in Kobe also participated in the programme that was hosted by the Government of Maharashtra, and the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai. The meeting brought together disaster management and risk reduction actors from governments, business, technical and scientific institutions and civil society. More than 350 participants, representing 22 countries attended the event. A new "Platform for Public-Private Partnership" was launched, along with practical tools, including a checklist and guidelines for Chief Executive Officers, a diary of standard operating procedures on disaster preparedness and response, a reference manual on disaster management for the corporate sector, and a corporate-community interface handbook on disaster and environmental management.

Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union General Assembly, Special Session on Natural disasters and Crisis Situations: The Roles and Responsibilities of Broadcasters, Hanoi, Vietnam, 27 November
More than 300 broadcast executives from across the Asia-Pacific gathered for the Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union General Assembly. The ISDR secretariat Director delivered a presentation on the Hyogo Framework for Action, and the media's role in the disaster risk reduction, which was well received. The event had broad media coverage in Asia, in particular, in Japan, Pakistan and Vietnam. Discussions were held with ABU and UNICEF regarding a collaborative effort to develop tool kits for journalists in 2006.

International Workshop on Strengthening the Resilience of Local Communities in Coastal Areas to Water Related Natural Disasters, Copenhagen, Denmark, 16 to 18 November
The Danish Government, in collaboration with the United Nations/ISDR secretariat, organized an International Workshop on Strengthening the Resilience of Local Communities in Coastal Areas to Water Related Natural Disasters, from 16-18 November. The purpose of the workshop was to support the implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action, including the recovery and reconstruction activities after the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

The outcomes of the workshop are available on the workshop website at: http://www.dhi.dk/resilience/ and on the ISDR website. Initial findings were presented during the IATF/DR-12, Geneva, and 22-24 November 2005.

Update on Third International Conference on Early Warning
Over the past month, consultations regarding the Third International Conference on Early Warning have taken place in Tokyo, Brussels, Bonn, Berlin and Potsdam, and through a meeting of the Consultative Committee in Geneva. Support for the conference is growing from both governments and organizations. Over 120 projects have been submitted for the conference Priorities and Projects Forum, and over 140 abstracts have been received for the Scientific and Technical Symposium. All proposals are being reviewed, and it is expected that a first draft of the programme might be ready early in January 2006. Registration of participants started on-line on 1 November, and is proceeding smoothly. A communications plan is being developed, and products will include a series of video clips and articles, as well as a comprehensive press kit. Work on draft outcome documents will start in December, guided by PPEW and the EWC III secretariat. Logistical arrangements are underway, led mainly by German Committee for Disaster Reduction (DKKV), with the assistance of the Geneva-based EWC III secretariat. For the latest information on the conference, please consult:

Fellowship Programme
The ISDR secretariat and OCHA are continuing the implementation of a yearly fellowship programme. The goal of the Programme is to facilitate the participation of professionals from developing countries in short-term training courses addressing disaster risk reduction issues. This year, more than 50 professionals from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean have been trained in the following international courses:
  • CERG - Centre d'Etudes des Risques Géologiques, Université de Genève, Switzerland, Study and Management of Geological Risks;
  • The Geoforschungszentrum of Potsdam, Germany, Seismology, Seismic Data Analysis, Hazard Assessment and Risk Mitigation;
  • CIMNE - Centro Internacional de Métodos Numéricos en Ingeniería de la Universidad de Cataluña, On-line course on Disaster Risk Reduction and Management;
  • The Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC), Bangkok Thailand, The 33rd Regional Training Course on Disaster Management DMC-33; and,
  • University of Cape Town, South Africa - Disaster and Development: Reducing Risk, Protecting Livelihoods.
Second Regional Workshop for Asia-Pacific on Worldwide Technologies and Tools, Kathmandu, Nepal, 14-15 November
The Second Regional Workshop for Asia-Pacific on Worldwide Technologies, Tools and Effective Practices for Disaster Risk Reduction was held in Kathmandu, Nepal on 14-15 November, co-organized by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) of Japan, the National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention (NIED) of Japan, the ISDR secretariat (both ISDR-GVA and ISDR-BKK), Kyoto University and the National Society for Earthquake Technology (NSET) of Nepal. The meeting gathered experts and practitioners from the Asian-Pacific region, including from China, the Philippines, Indonesia, Uzbekistan, Iran, Nepal, Bangladesh and India, as well as representatives of UN/OCHA and UNDP. The participants discussed criteria for the selection of technologies and tools; user profiles and needs, illustration with specific examples, a framework of regional cooperation for a "Disaster Reduction Hyperbase", and identification of potential resources for follow-up. Discussions were constructive and common directions were agreed among participants. The third regional workshop for the Americas (North America and Latin America) will be held in San Jose, Costa Rica, 10-11 January 2006. The final international workshop will take place in Tsukuba, Japan on 27-28 February 2006, in order to implement an appropriate mechanism and collaboration for the development of the cited database.

Internationally Renowned Aerial Photographer, Yann Arthus Bertrand, Joins Forces with the ISDR to Promote Disaster Risk Reduction
In collaboration with renowned aerial photographer, Yann Arthus Bertrand, the ISDR secretariat has prepared a calendar on showing human vulnerability to disasters. The calendar was launched in November 2005. Yann Arthus Bertrand will continue to collaborate with ISDR on communications initiatives, promoting disaster risk reduction at the international level. The calendar was produced in partnership with the private entity ENTICO, who sought sponsorship from public and private sources for the project.

British Schoolgirl Hero, Tilly Smith, Meets President Clinton to Promote Disaster Risk Reduction Education
Tilly Smith, the British schoolgirl who was on holiday in Thailand with her family when the tsunami hit last 26 December, met with President Clinton in November to promote disaster risk reduction education. Because Tilly had learned about tsunamis in school, she recognized the signs of the approaching wave, and warned her parents, which led to hotel guests being rapidly cleared from the beach in Thailand. The recorded dialogue between Tilly and President Clinton will be used in a number of ISDR public awareness activities to promote the importance of education for disaster risk reduction globally. This event was organized by the ISDR secretariat, in collaboration with the Office of the Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery. Tilly has accepted to act as an ISDR ambassador to promote the importance of education, and will participate in a number of activities next year linked to the ISDR campaign on education.

Canadian Risks and Hazards Network (CRHNet)
The ISDR secretariat participated in a first preliminary Canadian national platform meeting and attended the Canadian Risks and Hazards Network (CRHNet), Second Annual Conference, Toronto, 17-19 November 2005 together with around 150 participants. One of the main goals of the event was to further discuss and plan the establishment of an ISDR Canadian National Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, which is expected to happen in 2006.

Planning Meeting of the Regional Inter-agency Group (RED-LAC) at the OCHA Regional Office in Panama.
This is a coordination interagency group that has functioned for some time under led by OCHA in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). The group met, including OCHA, UNICEF, UNDP/BCPR WFP, PAHO, IFRC and the ISDR/LAC regional unit, in November during 2 days and agreed to focus on coordination in the following thematic areas: (a) disaster risk management; (b) recovery; and (c) response. The ISDR secretariat/LAC unit would coordinate the thematic group on disaster risk management, which will include the participation UNDP/BCPR, UNICEF, PAHO and IFRC. Concrete activities, to be developed during 2006, were identified under four priority areas: promotion of national platforms for DRR; mainstreaming disaster risk reduction in CCA-UNDAF processes; education; and vulnerability in hospitals and schools. The envisaged inter-agency activities are expected to contribute substantially to sub-regional, national and local efforts to implement the HF in the region. The thematic group on recovery will be led by UNDP/BCPR, while the already consolidated thematic group on response will continue under OCHA leadership.

New CD-Rom on disaster risk management
The ISDR secretariat/LAC unit, together with CRID, has produced a CD-Rom with information resources on disaster risk management in municipalities. This information product was one of several ISDR contributions to the regional conference on Integrated Risk Management at the Municipal Level, held in Nicaragua, in November. It contains 89 full text documents on early warning, local risk management, risk maps, governance, community planning and education. It also includes 20 website references and contact information for 114 institutions and/or experts. Its simple set-up allows access by thematic area or search. The CD can be viewed at:

Integrated Risk Management at the Municipal Level, Nicaragua
The regional conference on Integrated Risk Management at the Municipal Level, organized by Swiss Development Cooperation, brought together a wide variety of stakeholders from the region. The conference aimed to provide specific action areas that will make it possible to prioritize capacity building activities for the coming years. A series of feasible lines of work for the future were identified and agreed upon by the participants. The ISDR secretariat supported the organization and provided thematic and policy assistance. During a side event, several important Central American universities signed a letter of intent stressing their will to strengthen their role in academic training and research on disaster reduction.


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