IDNDR-ESCAP Regional Meeting for Asia: Risk Reduction and Society in the 21st CenturyBangkok, 23-26 February 1999
The IDNDR-ESCAP Regional Meeting on Natural Disaster Reduction in Asia was organized by the IDNDR and the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in collaboration with the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC) between 23 and 26 February 1999, in Bangkok, Thailand. It was opened by the Deputy Foreign Minister of Thailand, Mr. Sukhumbhand Paribatra. About 200 representatives of governments and organizations from 24 Asian countries attended the Meeting. The Meeting reviewed the accomplishments in the region during the Decade and formulated recommendations for future efforts to ensure continued commitment to disaster prevention throughout Asia during the next millennium. Discussions were held on the economic aspects of water hazards; the urban and environmental aspects of geological hazards; and on fire and transboundary atmospheric hazards. Apart from a keynote statement on Overview of Experiences and Responses to Recent Disasters in Asia, ESCAP secretariat presented three other papers on natural disaster reduction:
The Bangkok Declaration adopted at the end of the Regional Meeting underscored the need to integrate mitigation and prevention practices into national development and planning processes. This is expected to enhance community resilience and promote political and socio-economic stability in the event of such disasters. The Declaration also encouraged sustained efforts to harness the considerable traditional knowledge and approaches for dealing with hazards and building up community capabilities and promoting private-public partnerships. Looking beyond the Decade, the Regional Meeting emphasized the need for effective coordination mechanisms within the UN System, as well as within individual countries, to promote disaster reduction and risk management during the 21st century as an integral part of sustainable development.
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The IDNDR-ESCAP Regional Meeting for Asia: Risk Reduction and Society in the 21st Century was convened at the United Nations Conference Center in Bangkok, Thailand, from 23-26 February 1999, in which more than 150 representatives of national governments, United Nations and other international organizations, technical and scientific programmes, non-governmental and community-based organizations from 24 ESCAP countries participated. The Meeting reviewed the accomplishments in the region during IDNDR and formulated recommendations for future efforts to ensure continued commitment to disaster prevention throughout Asia during the next millennium.
Following the Yokohama Strategy and Plan of Action for a Safer World: Guidelines for Natural Disaster Prevention, Preparedness and Mitigation adopted at the World Conference on Natural Disaster Reduction in 1994, several regional and national initiatives have been taken in Asia. The Regional Meeting noted the active involvement and growing participation in disaster reduction activities within the UN system, and by international organizations, national governments, professional and non-governmental organizations, community bodies, private commercial interests and other stakeholders in civil society. The role of the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center in capacity-building and awareness-raising in the region was notable during the Decade. The establishment of the Asian Disaster Reduction Center was also a significant development during the Decade. Reflecting the views of the IDNDR Scientific and Technical Committee, the meeting underlined the importance of sustained commitments to disaster prevention by government authorities and others in order to consolidate and further the accomplishments of the Decade relating to national development in the 21st century.
Participants acknowledged that different hazards associated with tropical cyclones, water, geological conditions, wildfire, and severe climatic conditions will continue to threaten all Asian countries. The population pressure and ecological fragility of habitats in the region will aggravate the adverse impact of these hazards. In this context, the Meeting highlighted the need for drawing upon different national experiences, knowledge and professional abilities to prevent disasters. A multi-disciplinary, coordinated approach and greater awareness of policy-makers and communities will help realize appropriate, adequate and sustained allocations of human, technical and material resources for disaster prevention.
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The Regional Meeting welcomed the emergence and increasing adoption of policies and practices at international, regional, national and local levels of responsibility for reducing the impact of natural disasters, rather than merely responding to them. Adoption of structured approaches to risk assessment, integration of mitigation and prevention practices into national development and planning processes, including greater commitment to land-use planning measures, and improved early warning systems will not only substantially reduce human suffering and property losses but will enhance community resilience and promote political and socio-economic stability.
The Meeting emphasized the necessity of developing new and effective ways to engage more people dedicated to disaster prevention activities in the course of their on-going work and consistent with their livelihoods throughout Asia. Sustained efforts would have to be taken for harnessing the considerable traditional knowledge and approaches for dealing with hazards and building up community capabilities and promoting private-public partnerships. Regional arrangements should be rendered more effective by ensuring exchanges of information and experience throughout the region. The Meeting recognized the assistance that has already been forthcoming from financial institutions and donors and called upon their continued support to promote the culture of prevention by supporting national disaster reduction plans on a pro-active basis to advance disaster prevention as a public value.
The Regional Meeting welcomed the convening of the IDNDR International Programme Forum and ECOSOC session, in July 1999, in bringing the Decade to a successful conclusion and in evolving recommendations for sustained disaster prevention in the future. The Meeting recognized the Programme Forum as a unique international opportunity for countries, institutions, and organizations to inform the world of the diversity and success of disaster prevention programmes in the region. Looking beyond the Decade, the Meeting emphasized the need for effective coordination mechanisms within the United Nations system, including at the regional and sub-regional levels, as well as within individual countries, to promote disaster reduction and risk management during the 21st century as integral parts of sustainable development, including responses to global change. These should function in directing efforts to prevent and mitigate disasters due to natural, technological and environmental hazards. In particular, the Meeting urged the Secretary General of the United Nations to set up an appropriate mechanism for bringing about concerted global action. The Meeting also emphasized the importance of continuation of the functioning of the existing regional institutions and frameworks beyond the Decade.
The participants of the IDNDR-ESCAP Regional Meeting for Asia express their recognition of disaster prevention as an integral component of sustainable development in Asia. By this declaration, the Meeting calls for a holistic and integrated effort by all member countries to promote disaster prevention as a public value; to improve integrated risk management through the involvement of an increasing range of professional, technical and scientific disciplines; to strengthen and further regional and sub-regional professional and institutional frameworks; to realize meaningful participation of local communities in reducing the vulnerability of people, the environment, social and economic resources; and to enhance disaster management capabilities.
For more information about the Meeting, contact Le Huu Ti, Water and Mineral Resources Section.
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