Asia's first urban risk reduction training and education facility opens in Republic of Korea
Geneva - the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) and theGovernment of the Republic of Korea are opening Asia's first ISDR Education and Training Institute for Urban Risk Reduction in Incheon, Republic of Korea.
The new premises will be inaugurated today (11 August 2009) by the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, who has a special interest in disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, Margareta Wahlström, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, Seong Ryong Choi, the Admininstrator of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and Ahn Sang-Soo, the Mayor of Incheon Metropolitan City. More than 200 participants are expected to attend the opening ceremony among them many high level Korean government representatives.
The ISDR Education and Training Institute for Urban Risk Reduction is the first educational and research facility in Asia for disaster risk reduction professionals specialising in urban risk reduction issues.
“Reducing urban risk is a critical challenge in Asia as more and more people are living in cities and are increasingly exposed to disasters – particularly the poor. The new institute will offer additional and much needed expertise to assist countries in the world's largest region and elsewhere to reduce disaster impacts and ultimately save lives and livelihoods”, says Wahlström.
The UN's Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction: Risk and Poverty in a Changing Climate released last May 2009 in Bahrain identified rapid and unplanned urbanization as a key factor in aggravating disasters. Asia is not only the most populated continent on earth but also the most affected by disasters. Further, it is home to some of the planet's greatest mega cities including Tokyo, Mumbai, Shanghai, Calcutta and Seoul each with populations of over 10 million.
The ISDR Education and Training Institute for Urban Risk Reduction will act as a facilitator for building capacity on urban risk reduction issues including sharing science technologies and data on climate related hazards. The Institute will also train regional government officials and NGO practitioners, thus increasing technical skills and cooperation across the urban development remit.
Particular attention will be given to schools, hospitals and critical infrastructures central to making cities safer. A new UNISDR Office in Incheon will assist the Northeast Asia Region in the implementation of the work of the Institute.
The opening ceremony will also mark the start of a three-day conference – Building a Local Governance Alliance for Disaster Risk Reduction – co-hosted by Incheon Metropolitan City. The gathering will address common concerns and challenges faced by local governments in preventing disasters and minimizing their impacts. Moreover, it will help to frame the scope and objectives of the UNISDR’s next World Disaster Reduction Campaign focusing on “Safer Cities”.