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Highlights for
Wednesday, 19 January 2005

On Wednesday, delegates to the World Conference on Disaster Reduction (WCDR) continued to meet in numerous sessions of the Intergovernmental and Thematic Segments. In Plenary, the Conference heard general statements by over 70 countries, and a special forum on links between disaster reduction and related intergovernmental processes. The Main Committee met to continue addressing the draft framework for action. In the Thematic Segment, the final high-level round table took place, and a special thematic session on promotion of tsunami disaster mitigation in the Indian Ocean was held. Thematic Panels were also convened on Clusters 3 (knowledge, innovation and education to build a culture of safety and resilience) and 2 (risk identification, assessment, monitoring and early warning). Throughout the day, sessions of the five thematic clusters were held. The Public Forum met throughout the day, addressing “Protecting the lives of disaster victims” and “Commitment of local communities to saving human lives.” 

Above photo: View of the WCDR plenary session.


General Statements: 

Ryszard Kalisz, Minister of Interior and Administration (Poland), noted bilateral agreements with neighboring countries regarding post disaster activities and mutual assistance. 

El Sadiq Almagly
, Deputy Permanent Representative of Sudan to the UN Geneva, recalled the outcome of the Millennium Summit on disaster reduction. 

Thakur Phanit
, Deputy Permanent Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Thailand), supported the proposed framework for action, which links disaster reduction to sustainable development. 

Special Forum: 

Ryutaro Hashimoto, UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation, urged participants to adopt the target to halve the number of lives lost in water-related disasters by 2015.

Joke Waller-Hunter, UNFCCC, highlighted the link between adaptation to climate change and disaster reduction. She also conveyed the support of the tenth Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC for the successful outcome of the WCDR.

Anwarul Chowdhury, High Representative for LDCs, Landlocked Developing Countries and SIDS, said the Kobe outcome should recognize the disproportionately high vulnerability of SIDS and LDCs to disasters. He stressed SIDS' need for early warning systems, emergency relief and reconstruction capacities.

James Morris, World Food Programme, reminded participants that hunger takes as many lives every week as the recent Indian Ocean disaster did.

Main Committee:  

The main committee continued negotiations on the draft framework for action. Although visible progress was made, it seems that the issue of referencing climate change appears to be the main sticking point for a number of key players. Above photo L-R: Helena Molin-Valdes (ISDR) and Main Committee Chair Marco Ferrari (Switzerland); Below photos: Delegates from the Main Committee session.

Above photos L-R: Yuri Boychenko and Natalia Zolotova of the Russian Federation; Michael Peay and Donna Lee of the United States; and Daniela Gregr of Luxembourg speaking on behalf of the EU.

Above photos L-R: Pedro Fanego of Cuba; Mei Fang of China and Hadil Da Rocha-Vianna of Brazil 

Above photos; Leslie Norton of Canada; Natalie Burke with Karen Smith in the background from Barbados; and John Ejinaka of Nigeria 

Thematic Segment: 

Special thematic session on Tsunami: 

P. J. Prih Harjadi
, Director, Indonesia's Geophysical Data and Information Center, reported on Indonesia's historical vulnerability to tsunamis.

Kriengkrai Khovadhana, Deputy Director-General, Thailand's
Meteorological Department, presented a plan to educate citizens and

K. Radhakrishnan, Director, Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services outlined an initiative for mitigating storm surges and tsunamis. The project will be completed by 2007 and will cost US $30 million.

Sarath Weerawamakula, Director, Sri Lanka's Geological Survey and
Mines Bureau, suggested an early warning system for cyclones as well
as tsunamis, and requested international support to monitor the newly
developing plate boundary south of Sri Lanka. He said unidentified
tremors are felt frequently in Sri Lanka.

High Level Round Table 3: What will tomorrow hold? 

Above photos L-R: 

Sálvano Briceño
, Director, ISDR, chaired a round table on: Emerging risks; what will tomorrow hold?

Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General, World Meteorological Organization (WMO), emphasized the high return of investments in disaster reduction and said WMO is committed to halve the number of lives lost due to disasters in the next decade. He added that LDCs and SIDS are hit harder by disasters, setting back their development by decades. 

Li Xueju, Chinese Minister of Civil Affairs, called for the use of technology to improve risk determination assessment, disaster mapping and support for local capacity building.

Thematic Panel Cluster 2: Risk identification, assessment, monitoring and early warning 

Kenzo Hiroki, Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport,
used case studies to show the potential of well-designed early warning
systems to dramatically reduce loss of life.

Helen Wood, USA's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,
chaired the session and will report to plenary on Saturday.

Barbara Carby, Jamaica's Office for Disaster Preparedness and Emergency
Management (OPDEM) said Jamaica's experience with volunteer rain-gauge 
readers demonstrates the important role of local and informal data

Laban Ogallo, World Meteorological Organization Drought Monitoring
Centre, stressed the importance of community based solutions and
incorporating traditional knowledge.

WCDR ENB Snapshots: 

Above photos L-R: Members of the Japan Water forum and NPO Waterscape held a candle-lit vigil for victims of disasters worldwide; Hideki Sawa, World Water Forum (center) lit a candle; Delegates were asked to sign a petition banner.

Above photos: Traditonal Japanese art of flower arranging called Ikebana. Courtesy of the Hyogo Ikebana Society.  

This service was prepared in cooperation with the ISDR Secretariat


UN/ISDR (the Conference Secretariat)
UNGA Resolution A/RES/58/214 (PDF)
The Yokohama Strategy
ENB coverage of PrepCom1 for the Conference on Disaster Reduction
ENB coverage of PrepCom2 for the Conference on Disaster Reduction  
ENB summary report of PrepCom1 for the Conference on Disaster Reduction 
ENB summary report of PrepCom2 for the Conference on Disaster Reduction

ENB summary report of the Second Conference on Early Warning 


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