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The European Commission Supports the UN Disaster Reduction Conference in Kobe

The European Commission Supports the UN Disaster Reduction Conference in Kobe

The European Commission is providing €360,000 (around US $480,000) to support a key United Nations conference on disaster reduction in Kobe, Japan on 18-22 January 2005. The event, coming less than a month after the tsunami tragedy in the Indian Ocean, is expected to attract several thousand participants including government and community representatives and scientific experts in disaster reduction from around the world. It is being organised by the UN’s International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR). Brussels, 17 January 2005. Source: EU.

The funds from the Commission are being channelled through ECHO, the Humanitarian Aid department, whose mandate includes disaster preparedness activities. They will cover, among other things, the presentation at the conference of 24 good practice initiatives in reducing disaster risks around the world.

Louis Michel, the Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid said: “Having a sophisticated alert system and populations that are prepared will enable us to save many lives in the future. The European Commission is fully committed to supporting a global alert system to prevent natural catastrophes such as tsunamis, earthquakes and cyclones.”

Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the Commissioner for External Relations, said: “The conference takes place in Kobe ten years to the day after the city was devastated by a terrible earthquake. The importance of the conference is all the more evident following the Indian Ocean disaster. The European Commission strongly supports the United Nations in its efforts to mobilize and coordinate the action of the international community in disaster risk reduction for the decade ahead.”

The terrible events of 26 December 2004 and the predicted increase in climate-change related events, such as storms, floods, droughts and rising sea-levels, tragically highlight the importance of scientific efforts to predict natural catastrophes and ensure that appropriate information quickly reaches those most at risk. Tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanoes and other natural disasters now pose a greater global threat than war and terrorism. Finding ways of reducing the impact of natural disasters is vital. A particular priority is an early warning system that is able to alert the three billion people – around half of the earth’s population, who live in areas vulnerable to natural catastrophes. Other important measures include better advance preparation of these vulnerable populations, effective evacuation procedures, technical studies and surveys such as hazard mapping, small scale mitigation works and training for local communities in how best to respond when disaster strikes. In addition, the international community must increase co-operation to mitigate climate change.

The European Commission is an active participant in disaster reduction activities, through its environment policy and its funding of scientific research and through humanitarian projects, development co-operation, civil protection and external assistance actions that seek to improve the preparedness of vulnerable communities and their ability to mitigate and respond to the consequences.

The Kobe conference – held in the shadow of one of the world’s worst ever disasters - will be an important forum to promote effective disaster risk reduction, to argue for its integration into wider sustainable development policies, to exchange knowledge about the best ways of managing and reducing the risks, and to commit to strategic goals for action in the decade ahead. Experience shows that the impact of disasters is always greater on poor communities, showing the direct link between levels of development and disaster risks

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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).