World Water Day 2004 - "Water and Disasters: Be informed and be prepared"

22 Mar 2004
Bangkok, Thailand

The observance of the World Water Day was held jointly by UNESCAP, the World Meteorology Organization (WMO) and the Inter-Agency Secretariat of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UN/ISDR) on 22 March 2004 at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok. This year's theme was "Water and Disasters: Be informed and be prepared." Approximately 200 participants attended the event.

At the opening session, Mr. Kim Hak-Su, Executive Secretary of UNESCAP, welcomed all participants and delivered the message from the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan. In his welcoming remarks, Mr. Pranesh Saha, Officer-in-Charge of the Environment and Development Division, UNESCAP, outlined some of the organization's contributions to improving regional collaboration in flood mitigation and preparedness.

The Secretary-General's message related this year's World Water Day with the launching of the Guidelines for Reducing Flood Losses, a joint publication of the Unite Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), UN/ISDR, UNESCAP, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States of America and WMO. John Harding, Programme Officer of UN/ISDR, launched the guidelines and outlined the history of its development and its contents.

The opening session was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Mr. David Jezeph, Chief, Water Security Section, UNESCAP. Panelists elaborated on various subjects relating to water and water-related disasters.

The afternoon session was organized as a youth perspective on water conservation: means to reduce water-related disasters and providing safe water for disadvantaged rural communities in Thailand.

Discussions were conducted by teams of four panelists from ten universities and colleges in Thailand on the above themes. Prizes were awarded to the top three teams and the best individual presentation. All young panelists showed a remarkable in-depth understanding of the constraints in achieving sustainable management of the precious water resources. All participants eagerly looked forward to returning next year to make new presentations at the World Water Day 2005. They would try their best to respond to the Secretary-General's call to "renew our efforts to give water issues the attention they deserve, now and over the long term."