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DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF UNESCO

Director-General opens 5th session of International Consortium on Landslides

On 23 November 2006, the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, opened the fifth session of the Board of Representatives of the International Consortium on Landslides (ICL) at UNESCO Headquarters in the presence of Professor Kyoji Sassa, President of the ICL, Mr Salvano Briceno, Director of the Secretariat of the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reductions (UN/ISDR), Mr Howard Moore, representative of the Internatinoal Council for Science, and Professor Zhang Hongren, President of the International Union for Geological Sciences.

In his address to the Board, the Director-General, Mr Matsuura recalled that natural disasters are increasing in terms of frequency, complexity, scope and destructive capacity. Landslides, too, are growing in frequency and in force. “They wreak havoc today in almost every region of the world, constituting a hazard that is both ubiquitous and extremely damaging”, Mr Matsuura said. “They act as a serious break on development efforts, in particular in least developed countries”. He informed the audience that disaster preparedness and mitigation are set to figure prominently within UNESCO’s new medium-term strategy. He said the aim is to reinforce the Organization’s role in this area, and in particular to mobilize the full potential of its multidisciplinary mandate. The Organization has always advocated that disaster prevention and mitigation needs to engage not only science and technology, but also education, communication and culture.

Finally, the Director-General paid tribute to Professor Kyoji Sassa, and reaffirmed UNESCO’s support for ICL. He recalled that UNESCO had played an instrumental role in the foundation of the Consortium and that since then the two entities have developed a highly effective partnership. In this regard, he said that the World Landslide Forum, scheduled to take place in 2008, will constitute a “milestone in our efforts to strengthen global risk preparedness” and that he was pleased that UNESCO will serve as co-organizer with ICL of this Forum. Mr Matsuura also underlined the importance placed by UNESCO on cooperation with its NGO and UN partners, as well as with other actors engaged in the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR).

Mr Matsuura also had the opportunity to meet Mr Sálvano Briceño, bilaterally. Discussion touched on possible areas where collaboration between UNESCO and UN/ISDR could be reinforced. In particular, Mr Briceño stressed the fact that the Organization’s interdisciplinary mandate gives contribution it could make to disaster reduction a comparative advantage on which it should capitalize, especially in an era where disaster prevention is ranking increasingly high on the international agenda. He expressed the hope that UNESCO will play a strengthened role in the concert of specialized agencies involved in
disaster risk reduction, beyond that already being played within the context of tsunami protection through the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission. Mr Matsuura affirmed UNESCO’s commitment to working with its sister agencies in pursuit of our common goals and said UNESCO would be an active stakeholder in the interagency efforts aimed at disaster mitigation and reduction.

The ICL is an international non-governmental and non-profit scientific organization promoting landslide research and capacity building, and integrating landslide sciences and technology within the appropriate cultural and social contexts. It also coordinates international expertise in landslide risk assessment and mitigation studies and promotes a global, multidisciplinary programme on landslides. Created in 2002 with the support and encouragement of UNESCO, its membership includes national organizations as well as NGOs and United Nations entities. The secretariat of ICL is based in Kyoto University, Japan.

  • Author(s):Office of the Spokesperson
  • Source:Flash Info N° 188-2006
  • 27-11-2006
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