Day for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR) 2000
On Wednesday, October 11, 2000, the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and
the Pacific (ESCAP) observed the first International Day for Disaster Reduction
in the new millennium at the UN Conference Centre (UNCC), Bangkok, Thailand.
Activities included the ESCAP Forum on Disaster Reduction and the ESCAP
exhibition "Disaster Reduction in the ESCAP Region"
The theme for this year, "Disaster Prevention, Education and Youth"
was promoting a shift from a culture of reaction to disasters to a culture of
prevention. Global commemoration activities aimed to increase awareness of
policy-makers and the public about the necessity for education programmes in
disaster prevention and management.
ESCAP Forum on Disaster Reduction
The ESCAP Forum on Disaster Reduction was opened with a message by ESCAP
Executive Secreatry Mr. Kim Hak-Su. and chaired by Mr. Cengiz Ertuna, Chief,
Environment and Natural Resources Development Division.
In his message, Mr. Kim reminded the participants that that "a lot
remains to be done" in the field of natural disaster reduction. Last year
alone, the continued rise in frequency, severity and cost of disasters facing
societies had underlined the importance of intensifying public and private
commitments to hazard and risk reduction.
Last year in eighteen countries surveyed in Asia, there were 13,600 deaths
reported and 41.4 million people severely affected by natural disasters. Floods,
droughts, typhoons, cyclones, snowstorms and forest fires resulted in a
staggering economic loss of 28.8 billion US$. It was estimated that nearly half
of the world's major disasters occur in Asia and the Pacific. Since 1990, the
total number of deaths due to natural disasters in Asia and the Pacific has
exceeded 200,000. Thus, the message concluded that the most important task in
the medium and long-term was to strengthen and broaden programmes which reduce
the number and cost of disasters in the first place.
The Forum featured the following speakers and themes:
- Mr. Siri Akaakara, Director, Forest Fire Control Department
Division of the Thai Royal Forestry Department, "Thailand's efforts to
prevent large-scale forest fires"
- Mr. Ksemsan Suwarnarat, Deputy Director General, City Planning
Department, Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, "Bangkok flood
- Mr. Aloysius Rego, Director of Planning and Development of the
Asian Disaster Preparedness Center, "Asian urban disaster mitigation
- Ms. Fainula Kurji-Rodriguez, Director, Corporate Planning and
Program Development, Asia Pacific Disaster Management Center,
"Globalization, information technology and disasters"
ESCAP Forum on Disaster Reduction (from
left to right):
Mr. Rego, ADPC, Mr. Suwarnarat, BMA, Mr. Ertuna, ESCAP, Ms. Kurji-Rodriguez,
APDMC, Mr. Akaakara, RFD
ESCAP exhibition "Disaster Reduction in the ESCAP Region"
The exhibition "Disaster Reduction in the ESCAP Region" was
featured on a large and open space in the United Nations Conference Centre in
Bangkok and included displays, videos and inter-active computer-based
information on disaster prevention programmes from UN agencies, the Thai
government, and regional non-governmental organizations working on disaster
"Disaster prevention is a long-term activity, but it is an urgent task
in light of the recent devastating disasters in the region," said ESCAP
expert Dr. Huub van Wees in the ESCAP press release. "The aim is to prevent
disasters and their alarming impacts through the implementation of disaster
prevention policies and techniques such as land-use planning, hazard mapping and
Exhibit of Thai Royal Forestry Department
ESCAP has been facilitating information exchange on disaster management in
the Asia and Pacific region since its inception. It is specifically focusing on
flood disaster and geology-related hazard prevention. It has recently published "Regional
Cooperation in the Twenty-first Century on Flood Control and Management in Asia
and the Pacific". This is the first report that focuses on regional
experiences in flood control and management processes at the basin, national and
Moreover, ESCAP works with geological survey departments of member states to
prevent geology-related hazards, such as earthquakes, landslides, tsunamis and
some types of flooding, from becoming disasters (see also ESCAP
urban geology programme). The approach is to produce maps based on
geological information, showing high-, medium- and low-level hazard zones that
can be readily understood by planners and the public. Using such hazard maps in
existing cities, the identified high-risk areas can help authorities to enhance
preparedness and post-disaster relief efforts. In growing or future cities,
disasters can be prevented through the avoidance of settlements in hazard-prone
On the intergovernmental level, ESCAP has been supporting the ESCAP/WMO
(World Meteorological Organization) Typhoon Committee and the WMO/ESCAP Panel on
Tropical Cyclones since their inception in 1968 and 1972, respectively. The
Typhoon Committee is currently composed of 14 members and the Panel on Tropical
Cyclones of 7 members. The Committee and the Panel promote and coordinate
governmental efforts to provide early warning and to minimize tropical cyclone
damage in vulnerable areas of the ESCAP region.
For further information, please contact:
Chief, Water Security Section, Fax: + 66 2 288 1059, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may also visit the website of the UN International Strategy for Disaster
Reduction (Geneva): www.unisdr.org