GENEVA, 28 September -
Under the slogan ‘Step Up for Disaster Risk Reduction’, UNISDR and the coalition Children in a Changing Climate - PLAN International, Save the Children, UNICEF and World Vision - will focus on children and young people on the International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR) on 13 October.
The Children’s Charter for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) will be central to this year’s IDDR and highlights five priorities identified through consultations with more than 600 children in 21 countries.
The disaster risk reduction priorities most important to children are safe schools; uninterrupted education; child protection; participation; access to information; safe infrastructure; risk reduction; and protection for the most vulnerable. These are the main issues children want addressed to reduce the impact of disasters and climate change on their families and communities.
On 13 October, children and young people are invited to show the world that they are part of global DRR efforts and are stepping up to the challenge through activities that send the message "Children and Young People are Partners in Disaster Risk Reduction!"
Activities encouraged during the day include the submission and posting of posters, drawings/paintings of a disaster resilient city or community and videos or video blogs on reducing disaster risks.
Children are encouraged to join or volunteer with young people’s networks on DRR; organize flash mobs; advertise and promote IDDR by adding the link to the day on their websites; print the IDDR logo or poster on T-shirts, posters, as well as stickers, and wear/use them on 13 October as well as share the public service announcement.
The International Day is also a vehicle for the public; school safety and youth networks; national disaster risk reduction platforms; non-governmental and civil society organizations; mayors, local governments and community leaders; the private sector; educators; and the media to organize events, activities, and programmes with children and young people.
More importantly, these organizations are asked to develop long-term programmes with children and young people in the lead up to the World Conference on Disaster Reduction in June 2015.
Save the Children in its 2007 report entitled Legacy of disasters - The impact of climate change on children, states that “In the next decade, up to 175 million children are likely to be affected every year” by disasters.
UNISDR Chief, Margareta Wahlström comments: “Regrettably, children are often victims of disaster events but we must also recognize the potential of young people to bring about change. We know they are more instinctive, determined, invested with purpose and very rarely bogged down by long drawn out theoretical discussions. Demonstrating our trust in them on International Disaster Reduction Day as participants and key agents of social demand is vitally important for global risk reduction efforts.”
“This is a milestone for children and disaster risk reduction”, states Gareth Owen, Humanitarian Director, Save the Children UK. “We’ve seen what children can do to keep themselves and their communities safe from disasters, and it’s great that this international day is celebrating that. Now we need the celebrations to lead to even more opportunities for children to participate in identifying and reducing the risks they face, and to contribute to safe, resilient development.”
Nick Hall, DRR Advisor, Plan International says, "Plan's partnership with ISDR over the years has centred on valuing - and promoting - the involvement of young people in reducing disaster risks. We all know that children, of all ages, must learn about the risks they face - at home, at school and in their neighbourhoods if they are to be able to protect themselves. Our experience working with groups of children all over the world also confirms that young people - provided they are aware of disasters - are inspired and inspiring champions for risk reduction at local, national and global levels."
Antony Spalton, DRR Specialist, UNICEF, states that "We very much welcome the choice of the theme of this year's International Day for Disaster Reduction, which is focusing on making children and young people partners in DRR. Children have a vital role to play in reducing disaster risk, both in their communities and at the national and global level and this day will provide an excellent opportunity to draw international attention to this."
We will continue to keep our readers posted on the build-up to the IDDR 2011.