A record registration of some 1,500 participants, drawn from 150 Governments and over 120 regional/national Organizations is building momentum for the Second Session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction which opens in Geneva two weeks today (Tuesday) on 16 June 2009.
"This pivotal conference in the disaster risk reduction (DRR) biennial calendar is shaping up well," says Margareta Wahlstrom, the UN's Assistant Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction and Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action.
Collaborating closely with ISDR partners, the secretariat of the UNISDR has put in place an extensive five-day programme, including pre-session events, intended to drive the Platform to concrete conclusions that will guide and influence Government decision-makers and policy-advisers and "place the DRR imperative where it should be - right at the heart of countries' development initiatives and activities" adds Wahlstrom.
In addition to the Platform's main business - conducted through a series of formal sessions, covering the opening and closing ceremonies and five high level panel discussions - the conference agenda also features:
- Three informal plenaries targeted at advancing implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015: Building the Resilence of Nations and Communities to Disasters (HFA);
- Five Roundtables – Early Warning, NGOs, Local Authorities, Education, and Ecosystems and a closed Parliamentarians meeting;
- Five Special Events – including the public launch of the Red Cross Red Crescent World Disasters Report, BBC World Debate and a Film Debate
- Some 40 side events organised by ISDR partners;
- A market-place featuring more than 30 booths/exhibits from ISDR partners.
On the final day (Friday 19 June 2009), the Platform Chair, the UN's Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, John Holmes, will deliver a Summary that will capture the key outcomes and deliverables emerging from the proceedings.
"The Chair's closing statement is fundamental to the success of the Platform," stresses Wahlstrom. "In effect, it must set the framework for the global DRR community to drive hard towards sealing a deal at the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference (in December 2009), integrate policy and practice and thus contribute to achieving HFA and Millennium Development goals.
"Further, it must bring together and substantial commitments arrived at during the conference; concentrate attention on channelling resources, particularly towards low income countries and small island developing states; and, above all, underpin the Platform's overall call to action: Invest Today for a Safer Tomorrow.