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'This bridge has been destroyed six times so now we build it higher and stronger'

The leader of Fiji’s disaster-hit Western Division has pledged to forge an integrated cross-sectoral strategy to achieve a safer and more resilient future. Western Division Commissioner Mr Joeli Cawaki and his team of technical experts told the head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), Ms Margareta Wahlström, that integrated planning and action was vital after being hit by two serious floods and a major cyclone in 2012.
19 Jul 2013 News briefs

Sirens sound yet deaf people left standing

Lydia Callis became an unlikely star of Superstorm Sandy as the sign-language interpreter during New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s televised press conferences on the storm. Time magazine reported in October 2012: “During Bloomberg’s televised press conferences on the storm — delivered in his standard business-like fashion — Callis translated his words with enthusiasm and passion. In fact, her presence at press conferences has provided New Yorkers with what New York magazine described as ‘a legitimate reason to smile’.”
29 Aug 2013 News briefs

People with disabilities: a power for change not a burden

BANGKOK, 20 September 2013 – Chaiyaphon Phupharat knows what he is talking about when he speaks about disability and how people living with disabilities are more vulnerable when disasters happen. In 1995, when he was 33 years old, Mr Chaiyaphon was involved in a road accident and has been in a wheelchair since. The incident prompted him to join the Council of Persons with Disabilities in Thailand and he has since become the organisation’s director.
20 Sep 2013 News briefs

Donors back DRR investment tracking

Donor governments have signalled the need to better capture investments in disaster risk reduction to strengthen evidence of the implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action.
23 Sep 2013 News briefs

Disaster risk forum honours champion of local action

A champion of local action to reduce disaster risk was this week honoured for his years of commitment in support of building safer and more resilient communities worldwide. The European Forum for Disaster Risk Reduction presented Dr Ilan Kelman with the Damir Čemerin Award for Local Change for his work to link disaster risk reduction with climate change adaptation.
26 Sep 2013 News briefs

Climate change will lead to dramatic escalation of disasters and economic losses says UNISDR

Based on current disaster trends and economic values, the world is looking at a minimum cost in the region of 25 trillion dollars in disaster losses for the 21st century if there is no concerted response to climate change, one which puts the emphasis on practical measures to reduce disaster risk and exposure to future extreme events. Margareta Wahlström, the Head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, said: “The robust science behind the latest Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change report translates into a world of catastrophic losses unless there are wholesale changes in how we allocate resources to prepare for extreme weather events. We are looking at losses the equivalent of one-third of annual global GDP. Clearly this is neither sustainable nor acceptable.
30 Sep 2013 Press release

UN global survey explains why so many people living with disabilities die in disasters

The results of the first-ever UN global survey of persons living with disabilities on how they cope with disasters, illustrates why they die, or are injured, in disproportionate numbers in disasters. An estimated 15% of the world’s population lives with some form of disability. Whether in multi-hazard prone United States of America or Bangladesh, earthquake-prone Italy or flood-prone Thailand, people living with disabilities across the world say they are rarely consulted about their needs and only 20% could evacuate immediately without difficulty in the event of a sudden disaster event, the remainder could only do so with a degree of difficulty and 6% would not be able to do so at all. If given sufficient time, the percentage of those who could evacuate with no difficulty rises from 20% to 38% but 58% feel they would still have either some, or a lot of, difficulty while 4% would still not be able to evacuate.
10 Oct 2013 Press release

Open data makes disaster risks visible

As UNISDR makes its final call for input to the Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction (GAR15) the role of open data and risk information is emerging as an essential element of sustainable development. Preparations for the UN flagship report are gathering pace and there is growing research into the modeling of disaster risks, which can provide the type of information to help governments plan better, educate people to make informed decisions, and assist companies to ensure their investments are secure. “We are in a relationship with risk and we need to manage that relationship. In fact, we like risk in many ways but need to make sure we are risk aware. In order to do this, people need access to the best possible information,” said UNISDR’s Information Management Coordinator Craig Duncan.
15 Oct 2013 News briefs

UNISDR training puts DRR top of the news

A global initiative to increase coverage of disaster risk reduction issues in the media culminated last week in the Pacific. ECHO and the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) jointly organized the series of workshops, which has trained more than 100 journalists from 45 countries. An intensive two-day forum in Suva, Fiji, was the final event of the series, which also included trainings in Lao PDR, Myanmar, Philippines, Tanzania, Tunisia, and Switzerland.
22 Oct 2013 News briefs

Seoul Declaration strengthens regional cooperation

The Heads of disaster management from China, Japan and the Republic of Korea have agreed to boost regional cooperation in the key areas of technology, information management and training programmes. The 3rd Trilateral Heads of Government Agency Meeting on Disaster Management issued a Joint Declaration emphasizing the vital role of regional cooperation to reduce disaster risk. The Vice Minister of Civil Affairs of China Gu Zhaoxi, Senior Vice-Minister of the Cabinet Office of Japan Nishimura Yasutoshi, and Administrator of National Emergency Management Agency of the Republic of Korea Nam Sang-ho announced a series of collaborative initiatives.
1 Nov 2013 News briefs

UNISDR launches new video competition

The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) is launching a new video clip competition under the theme “Promoting Investments for Resilient Nations and Communities”. The initiative, in partnership with the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM) of Thailand and Thai Public Broadcasting Service, follows the success of the Film Festival at the Fifth Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, in Indonesia, in October 2012. “We invite all participants, youth, students, media, film makers, experts and the general public to participate in the video competition and to see how they view disaster risk reduction issues. Their voice matters to us especially now we are discussing the successor of the Hyogo Framework for Action” said Brigitte Leoni of the UNISDR Asia Pacific office.
25 Nov 2013 News briefs

The ‘silent disaster of local losses’

Largely unreported disasters across the Americas over the past two decades account for the majority of economic losses and more than half of all disaster-related deaths, according to new findings from the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. A 22-year analysis of 16 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean reveals that smaller, localized and more recurrent disasters that rarely, if ever, make the news cumulatively account for 90 per cent of the total number of people affected by disaster and are also responsible for 90 per cent of destruction or damage of homes. “This is irrevocable evidence on the cumulative impact of those disasters that are small, occur locally and are often ‘invisible’,” said Ricardo Mena the Head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) for the Americas.
27 Nov 2013 News briefs

Tunisia’s database a DRR ‘game-changer’

Tunisia has taken an important step to strengthen its national disaster management with the establishment of a new disaster loss database The database was validated at a major disaster risk reduction forum that also saw 120 practitioners and policymakers recommend that the post-2015 international framework for disaster risk reduction be a more accountable and legally binding charter or convention with funding attached for its implementation. The new database includes previously unreported localized (known as extensive) disasters as well as the more widely reported, bigger disasters (known as intensive).
2 Dec 2013 News briefs

Indian Ocean islands move to strengthen DRR

Indian Ocean states are taking important steps to strengthen their individual and collective disaster risk management. Five islands – the Union of the Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, and Zanzibar – are working to establish and manage disaster loss databases. The 2005-15 Hyogo Framework for Action highlights the importance of accounting for past losses that can provide a basis for better risk assessments, more appropriate disaster planning and effective measures to reduce vulnerability and exposure. The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), in a joint effort with the Indian Ocean Commission’s (IOC) ISLANDS Project, is supporting the strengthening of local capacities and expertise so that the countries are able to produce their own risk assessments and loss databases.
3 Dec 2013 News briefs

Tacloban to call typhoon summit

The City of Tacloban which accounts for almost 50% of the dead and displaced in the Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as Yolanda) disaster, is to hold a summit inviting mayors and other public representatives to come to the city to talk about the lessons learned for disaster risk management. The announcement comes with recognition by the city authorities that there were several barriers to compliance with evacuation procedures despite many sweeps through the most exposed neighbourhoods – or Barangays as they are known in the Philippines – by teams of local volunteers and officials led by the Barangay captains. Three days before Typhoon Haiyan struck, a meeting was called by the City Mayor, Alfred Romualdez, of all 138 Barangay Captains to be briefed on the coming storm and they were all instructed to order their constituents to evacuate. The meeting was reportedly attended by about 75% of all Barangay captains.
10 Dec 2013 News briefs

Incheon clicks into DRR advocacy action

A major ‘City to City Learning’ forum on resilience heralds a renewed effort of global knowledge sharing ahead of the post-2015 international framework for disaster risk reduction. Ten cities in South Asia and Iran and 27 from the Republic of Korea have agreed to share experience and consolidate their commitment for local action, as part of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction’s (UNISDR) Making Cities Resilient Campaign. The 37 cities focused on urban risk management, risk sensitive urban planning, local action and critical infrastructure safety with specific focus on school safety as part of their discussions on the post-2015 framework.
12 Dec 2013 News briefs

Study outlines EU approach to loss databases

– A comprehensive study has outlined the path towards a standardized European approach to systematically record and manage disaster loss databases. The report, titled ‘Recording Disaster Losses: Recommendations for a European approach’, is in response to the European Union’s desire to find a mechanism to record systematically disaster losses and provide European loss data to international initiatives so that global trends can be charted. “Risk assessment requires accurate recording of previous disasters and in particular the associated losses in terms of human casualties, property and environment damage as well as economic loss,” the report says.
16 Jan 2014 News briefs

‘Useful and used’ data key to building resilience

The future resilience of the planet rests upon shortening the distance between emerging scientific evidence and actionable policy. A High-Level Panel, titled ‘Perspectives on the Value of Earth Observations’, agreed on the importance of the “usability of information” in the International Strategy of Disaster Reduction and other global efforts to strengthen resilience. Mr Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP), said collaboration and coordination was crucial: “We need to join up the dots about what we know about how resources can be used and not be used in future. “The world really is heading terribly in the wrong direction. We need to bring science to decision making. And in such a complex world, we can no longer afford the luxury of taking very narrow, specific responses.
20 Jan 2014 News briefs

Is Ethiopia the future of DRR?

From school to university education, from early warning to data collection, and from national development plans to community-based participation, Ethiopia has made solid gains in implementing the Hyogo Framework for Action, the global agreement on disaster risk reduction adopted in 2005.
15 May 2014 News briefs

Climate threat to Africa’s resilience

A disaster-resilient future for Africa will have to take account of the fact that it is the region of the world that will suffer the most from climate change and which struggles the most when it comes to capacity to manage present and future disaster risk, the 5th Africa Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction heard yesterday.
16 May 2014 News briefs

New Zealand’s first disaster comms conference

Australia’s Emergency Media and Public Affairs (EMPA) organization was born out of a desire to share lessons learned after Cyclone Larry in 2006 and it has been doing that every year since in unique style through its annual conferences.
22 May 2014 News briefs

Mortality Atlas sets stage for DRR PrepCom

A new review of disaster losses from 1970 to 2012 released today sets the stage for next week’s intergovernmental discussions on a new global framework for disaster risk reduction hosted in Geneva by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).
11 Jul 2014 News briefs
The United Nations General Assembly requested UNISDR to facilitate the development of a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction The United Nations General Assembly requested UNISDR to facilitate the development of a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction.
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