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Message from the Director-General of UNESCO on the occasion of the International Day for Disaster Reduction 2002 - 9 October 2002

08-10-2002 - On 9 October 2002, the international community will again observe International Disaster Reduction Day. Natural disasters are increasing in terms of frequency, complexity, scope and destructive capacity. This year they have struck developing and industrialized countries alike, causing intolerable deaths, suffering and damage. Floods in China, India, and Eastern and Western Europe, earthquakes in Afghanistan, Iran, and Papua New Guinea, droughts in Africa and Sri Lanka, cyclones in Bangladesh and Madagascar, and other disasters have all resulted in considerable human and material losses. The poor and disadvantaged people continue to suffer most from such natural disasters.

Coping with hazards - whether natural or attributable to human activity - is one of the greatest challenges of this century. Natural hazard prevention should play a prominent role in global efforts to reduce human suffering and damage to the natural and built environments. The disastrous effects of natural phenomena will only be eliminated, reduced or stabilized when prevention becomes a priority and cities, settlements, infrastructure, and housing are made safer. The overriding necessity for a global culture of prevention is clear: a culture which compels us to stop increasing exposure of humankind and property to nature’s extreme forces. UNESCO is committed, in the framework of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, to encourage further research and human resource development within communities at risk in order to make our societies safer.

The 2002 United Nations World Disaster Reduction Campaign is focused on sustainable mountain development and therefore echoes the proclamation by the United Nations General Assembly of 2002 as the International Year of Mountains. Hence we must build and strengthen the capacity of mountain people to cope with natural hazards and achieve sustainable development. An important step in this direction is to educate, organize and motivate the people of mountain communities at risk. UNESCO will continue to provide the intellectual forum for this purpose.

Source Message from the Director-General





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