United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
International Flood Initiative launched at World Conference on Disaster Reduction

A new inter-agency* initiative aimed at minimizing loss of life and reducing damage caused by floods was launched here today by UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura. The headquarters for the new project will be based at a planned Centre for Water Hazard and Risk Management (CHARM) hosted by the Public Works Research Institute in Tsukuba, Japan.

“This new initiative is set to integrate the scientific, operational, educational and public awareness raising aspects of flood management, including the social response and communication dimensions of flooding and related disaster preparedness,” said Mr Matsuura, launching the project during a special session devoted to the issue at the World Conference on Disaster Reduction in Kobe (Japan).

The International Flood Initiative is a response to the increasing number of water related disasters, deaths and widespread damage to goods and assets. Since 1992, the yearly number of water-related disasters has risen from slightly over 50 to more than 150. They claim about 25,000 lives and affect over 500 million others annually, and cost the world economy more than $60 billion, (up from about $10 billion in 1950). And this does not include the cost of damage to cultural assets and natural resources.

Experts attribute the increase to rapid population growth, the concentration of population and property in urban areas and the higher value of assets. Climate change and global warming are exacerbating the situation, and, according to UNESCO`s International Hydrological Programme, are likely to further increase the frequency of water-related disasters.

At the same time, floods are naturally occurring phenomena, which contribute to the biodiversity and sustainability of ecosystems and to many human activities.

The International Flood Initiative will promote an integrated approach to flood management to maximize the long-term benefits of floods and to minimize the hardship, loss of life and damage to goods and assets that result from floods. To achieve this, it will focus on research, training, information networking, promoting good governance and providing technical assistance.

*UNESCO, World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the United Nations University (UNU), the United Nations Inter-Agency Secretariat of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UN-ISDR), UN/ISDR Platform for the Promotion of Early Warning (PPEW), the International Association of Hydrological Sciences.

Source Press Release No 2005-08
Generic Field
Arabic | Russian
Editorial Contact: In Kobe : Sue Williams - Press Relations Section - tel (mobile) : +81 80 3451 3704
- Email s.williams@unesco.org
Publication Date 19 Jan 2005
© UNESCO 1995-2007 - ID: 24689