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International Day for Disaster Reduction 2019

13 October

Disasters induced by natural and technological hazards affect millions of people every year worldwide, but much of their impact can be reduced through pro-active measures and planning. The International Day for Disaster Reduction, held each year on 13 October,  celebrates how people and communities around the world are reducing their exposure to disasters.
UNESCO is engaged in the conceptual shift in thinking away from post-disaster reaction and towards pre-disaster action and helps countries build their capacities in managing disaster and climate risk.

This year's theme is: "Substantially reduce disaster damage to critical infrastructure and disruption of basic services, among them health and educational facilities, including through developing their resilience by 2030".
Many disasters can be avoided or prevented if there is a risk-informed approach to the development construction and maintenance of critical infrastructure, in order to ensure that the creation of new risk is avoided, and that critical infrastructure continues to function during and after a disaster. Given the high death tolls, notably in earthquakes and tsunamis, it is crucial that great care is taken to ensure that schools and hospitals are built to last by ensuring that location and hazard-appropriate planning regulations and building codes are enforced. 

Join the conversation with the hashtags #BuildToLast #DRRday


"The mitigation of devastation caused by disasters is therefore a global issue that determines the future, not only of our economies and environmental heritage, but also of humanity. Let us join forces in this fight – there is no time to lose."

— Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO on the occasion of the International Day for Disaster Reduction 2019

UNESCO Global Geoparks celebrate the 2019 International Day for Disaster Reduction

Raising awareness to strengthen communities’ resilience:

UNESCO Global Geoparks are forming a network of 147 territories all over the globe, that are located in various geographical settings that may be partly or entirely exposed to various natural hazards and extreme weather events. In recent years, natural hazards have already caused extensive damage to several UNESCO Global Geoparks. In addition, climate change seems to affect both the occurrence and intensity of various hydro-meteorological hazards.  

Many UNESCO Global Geoparks have already set as a top priority the reduction of naturally induced disasters and the protection of citizens and infrastructure, having implemented certain projects and developed concrete infrastructure and activities to raise awareness and mitigate risks. Existing knowledge of indigenous communities helps UGGps to develop good practices and initiatives to overpass crises and become more resilient. 

UNESCO Global Geoparks recognize the important role of training and awareness-raising actions, as well as of the existence and implementation of adequate risk management plans. 
UNESCO Global Geoparks are engaged in Disaster Risk Reduction on a daily basis and are very active in the promotion of the resilience concept. Many of these designated sites are celebrating the International Day for Disaster Reduction day as an opportunity to raise awareness and empower their local communities. 

The list below is not exhaustive - you can also celebrate by visiting a UNESCO Global Geopark near you!

Photo: © UNESCO / Colca y Volcanes de Andagua UNESCO Global Geopark

See events in: France| Germany | Greece | Iceland Italy | Portugal | Spain | 


  • event title: International Day for Disaster Reduction
  • dates: 11th October 2019 
  • place: Maison du Parc 73630 Le Châtelard
  • type of Activity: conference 
  • target group: general public
  • short description: an intervention to better know the forest and its role of protection of the goods and the populations within the framework of the exposure to the natural hazards


  • event title: Geo-workshops with the Geopark Rangers at UNESCO WHS Messel Pit
  • dates: 27th October 2019 
  • place: Bergstrasse-Odenwald UNESCO Global Geopark in cooperation with UNESCO WHS Messel Pit
  • type of Activity: Geo-workshop with the Geopark Rangers - volcanism
  • target group: Kids from 6 – 14 years
  • short description: Overview of different rock types, how do volcanic rocks look like, how is Messel Pit connected with volcanism? A researcher trip into the pit will show the volcanic history, which has created the Messel lake with its oil shales and unique fossils. After the trip the kids build together a little volcano.


  • event title: Natural processes in our Planet. Let’s familiarize ourselves with the earthquakes
  • dates: 7 - 20 October 2019 
  • place: Natural History Museum of the Lesvos Petrified Forest (Sigri, Lesvos Island, Greece)
  • type of activity: Experiential educational program and simulation of major earthquakes at the earthquake simulator
  • target group: School students
  • short description: Lesvos Island UNESCO Global Geopark participates in the activities organized on the occasion of the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction and launches from 7th to 20th of October 2019 the experiential educational program “Natural processes in our Planet. Let’s familiarize ourselves with the earthquakes”. The aim of this educational program is to raise awareness, to inform and prepare for the case of an earthquake and to familiarize with the protection measures. The main aim of the activity is to understand that we should not forget that the more prepared we are in anti-seismic protection issues, the more effectively we can deal with the effects of an earthquake.
  • During the educational program will be organized the experiential educational activity of simulating large and destructive earthquakes occurred in several places around the world in the earthquake simulator of the Natural History Museum of the Lesvos Petrified Forest and the implementation of the protection measures. The experience of the seismic motion on the earthquake simulator and the familiarization with the earthquake phenomenon contributes to the elimination of the panic and the awareness of the need for proper preparation in order to deal with the seismic hazard.

PSILORITIS UNESCO Global Geopark (Greece)

  • event title: Come at NHMC to discuss about climate change
  • dates: 15th October, 2019
  • place: Rural Heritage Hub at Natural History Museum of Crete
  • type of activity: Open discussion with the general public
  • target group: Children, adults, teachers, students
  • short description: Under the activities of Rural Heritage Hub that operates at NHMC under RURITAGE project, an open  discussion will take place with the participation of Dr C. Fassoulas from NHMC-Psiloritis UGGp who is going to talk about "Climate changes in geological past and present" and Dr Theodore Gianaros from National Observatory of Athens about "Risk Mitigation at a changing climate", followed by extensive discussion with participants.


  • event title: Educational talks – Natural hazards in Katla Geopark: monitoring, research and response
  • dates: 20th October 2019 
  • place: Katla Geopark
  • type of Activity: conference 
  • target group: general public
  • short description: Three leading specialists from the science community and governmental sector concerning natural hazards come together in Katla Geopark´s visitor center in Þorvaldseyri and educated about natural hazards on the International Day on Disaster Risk Reduction day. Berglind Sigmundsdóttir, director of Katla Geopark gives a short welcome speech followed by the police chief of South Iceland Mr. Kjartan Thorkelsson on public safety in South Iceland. Following that, Ms. Elísabet Pálmadottir, natural hazard specialist at the Icelandic Meteological office, describe her line of work monitoring natural disasters and potential threats in the geopark and likely scenarios and operations.  The third and final presentation is by the chairman of the Geoscience society of Iceland, Dr Thorsteinn Sæmundsson, who gives a talk about a new rising threat related to climate change, deformation and thawing of frozen, unstable slopes adjacent to receding glaciers.


  • event title: Search & Rescue
  • dates: 13th October 2019 
  • place: Vinca di Fivizzano and Capanna Garnerone
  • type of activity: technical drill of recovery
  • target group: local community
  • short description: the Apuan Alps UNESCO Global Geopark organizes in collaboration with National Alpine and Cave Rescue Service an educational program with a practical lesson and a technical drill of recovery. The main aim of the activity is to raise awareness, to inform and prepare people for more effective response during extreme events.


  • event title: Junior Geoparkers: the game of disruption
  • dates: 13th October 2019 
  • place: Information Point of the Geopark at Pratorotondo (Genova)
  • type of activity: workshop and field trip
  • target group: kids
  • short description: we will play together "the game of disruption", a didactic activity to learn how to behave in case of floods, hydrogeological instability, and forest fires and thus grow more aware and responsible.


  • event title: Geoparks and awareness of geological risk
  • dates: 13th October 2019 
  • place: Museum of Geo-Biodiversity in Vallo della Lucania (SA)
  • type of Activity: Dissemination of knowledge 
  • target group: student and local community
  • short description: The activity concerned the presentation of several type of geohazards and how the institution creates a sustainable use of resources. We also show the territory of the Geopark through the multimedia museum.


  • event title: The Earth seen by a professional: at school with the geologist - 3rd edition
  • dates: 18th October, 2019
  • place: Higher Secondary Education Institute - "G. Salerno" Scientific High School - Gangi (Palermo)
  • type of activity: A day dedicated to information and awareness-raising in schools about the potential natural hazards in the area of the Geopark, associated risks, and how they can protect themselves, to minimize the risks of disasters.
  • target group: about 200/250 high school students 
  • short description: The initiative promoted by the National Council of Geologists in collaboration with the Regional Orders of Geologists with the support of the Department Civil Protection Department intends to:
  • - spread the geological culture in young people as a necessary element for safeguarding the territory and the environment;
  • - spread a scientific culture for greater awareness of natural risks and provide information on correct behavior for a conscious and resilient population, as well as on the civil protection system within which citizens also converge. 
  • For this purpose, experts in the field will discuss the following topics:
  • - presentation and illustration of the nature trails and geological sites of the Madonie Geopark,
  • - the role of the geologist in planning, design, risk mitigation, etc .;
  • - definition of danger and risk, natural risks, the civil protection system;
  • - correct behavior in the event of natural disasters.
  • Finally, ample space will be left for debate and questions from students and teachers.


  • event title: Earthquake risk perception in Pollino UNESCO Global Geopark (Italy)
  • dates: 12th -13th October, 2019
  • place: Ecomuseum of the Park – Rotonda (PZ)
  • type of activity: Educational activity
  • target group: Visitors of the Ecomuseum
  • short description: Pollino UNESCO Global Geopark on 12th and 13th October continues the educational activity about the seismic risk present in the territory. This activity started with the installation of some panels explaining the Pollino Line (the fault system, that is the primary responsible of the seismotectonic activity of the area) and will continues in the schools in order to improve the consciousness of the natural risks and to communicate to the populations and to the institutions the good actions of prevention.


  • Event title: Quiz “Natural hazards: preparedness measures, prevention and self-protection.”
  • Date: 13th October 
  • Place: Azores UNESCO Global Geopark Facebook page
  • Type of activity: Quiz online
  • Target group: General public
  • Short description: This Quiz aims to promote global awareness of natural risks, prevention and mitigation measures, contributing to creating a more capable society to face it. 
  • The Quiz consists of sharing questions on the Azores UNESCO Global Geopark Facebook page. The first contestant who answers correctly the questions in one only comment will be the winner.  


  • event title: Work shop on trees
  • dates: 13th October 2019 
  • place: Basque Coast Geopark, Izarraitz Natura 2000 area 
  • type of Activity: workshop and field trip
  • target group: families
  • short description: Basque Coast UGG is organizing a workshop and a field trip for families on how to identify native tree species through their leaves, to raise awareness about the importance of forests in facing climate change.


  • event title: Storm in October, be careful with the flood
  • dates: 13th October, 2019
  • place: La Pobla de Segur – Lleida 
  • type of activity: Interpretative tour with a geologist guide
  • target group: General public
  • short description: We are going to talk about the geohazards, specifically, on this occasion, we focus on the floods. We will see the interactions of the river Noguera Pallaresa, the river Flamisell and the delta in Sant Antoni lake.


  • event title: Awareness raising for forest fire prevention
  • dates: 11th and 18th October, 2019
  • place: Primary School Blas Infante, Rute (11th, October) and Primary School Nuestra Señora del Rosario, Luque (18th, October)
  • type of activity: Sensitization talk, video projection and fire truck exhibition (2h in total)
  • target group: Primary school pupils
  • short description: Crew from the Andalusian plan for the prevention and extinction of forest fires (INFOCA) will develop an awareness raising activity in two Primary Schools located within Sierras Subbéticas UNESCO Global Geopark. This will consist of a general talk to pupils, the screening of a video on good practices and forest fire prevention and a final exhibition with a fire truck.


  • event title: “Natural risks. Geology alive”
  • dates: 18, 19 and 20 of October
  • place: Boltaña (Huesca, Spain)
  • type of activity: Seminar including workshops, field trips and talks
  • target group: general public
  • short description: The annual seminar of Sobrarbe-Pirineos UGGp will be devoted this year to Natural risks. All the main kinds that are active in our mountains will be explained: snow avalanches, landslides, earthquakes and floods. Equally, the role of the geologist in the emergences, how the media deal with the information and the links between active processes and geological heritage will be analyzed. A workshop about earthquakes and a fieldtrip to learn about large mass movements and avalanches will complete the scheduled activities.


This activity was supported by the UNESCO Heritage Emergency Fund. We wish to thank its donors: the Qatar Fund for Development, the Kingdom of Norway, the Government of Canada, ANA Holdings INC., the Principality of Monaco, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Republic of Estonia, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the Slovak Republic and the Principality of Andorra.