United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

Director-General opens the first session of the International Platform for Reducing Earthquake Disaster (IPRED)

On 8 July 2008, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, opened the first session of the International Platform for Reducing Earthquake Disaster (IPRED), held at UNESCO Headquarters.

The Platform is an initiative facilitated by UNESCO, with the support of the Government of Japan. It aims at setting up an international network for collaborative research, training, and education regarding earthquake studies and earthquake engineering. Addressing the experts participating in the session, Mr Matsuura underlined that disaster risk reduction is of particular concern to UNESCO, which plays an active role in the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction. Indeed, Disaster preparedness and mitigation rank among the Organization’s strategic objectives of the Medium-Term Strategy for 2008-2013.

The Director-General urged the participants to consider ways and means to serve, in their fields of competence, their respective communities which are located in earthquake-prone areas. “We must share our knowledge and experiences. Natural disasters including earthquake disasters do not recognize geographical borders. Knowledge about earthquakes must be shared for the benefit of all”, he stated.

Mr Matsuura recalled that “the Sichuan earthquake in China and the Nargis cyclone in Myanmar have tragically demonstrated once again the urgent need for nations to make optimum use of knowledge and technology in order to reduce the risk of disasters”. The Director-General argued that “today, scientific knowledge enables us to develop the tools for building resilient societies, able not only to react to disasters, but also to plan for, prevent and mitigate their effects”. He underscored that “societies must make a major conceptual shift from a focus on disaster response, to an emphasis on disaster prevention”.

The Director-General concluded by noting that the meeting was an opportunity to advance international cooperation in the evaluation, prevention and mitigation of earthquake disasters and he assured the participants that “UNESCO stands ready to fully engage its expertise in support of this goal”.

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Author(s): Office of the Spokeswoman - Source: Flash Info N° 091-2008 -  Publication Date: 08-07-2008

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