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Disaster Risk Reduction: Invest Today for a Safer Tomorrow

UNESCO was heavily involved in the 4th session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction which was hosted by the UNISDR in Geneva on 19-23 May 2013. The Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction is a key event in the Disaster Risk Reduction calendar and brought together disaster risk reduction, recovery and reconstruction experts from all over the world.

The theme for this year’s Global Platform event was ‘Invest Today for a Safer Tomorrow’. The participation of leading actors in Disaster Risk Reduction at the session provided an opportunity to consult on the current Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA), but also to discuss in-depth the post-Hyogo Framework for Action, thereby facilitating the progress of the Disaster Risk Reduction mandate moving forward.

UNESCO has made a significant contribution to the session through the domains of science, culture and education. Successful events were organized by several UNESCO departments. UNESCO also participated through multi-stakeholder partnerships such as the Global Alliance for DRR Knowledge and Education, in which UNESCO is a Chair together with UNICEF.

The Global Alliance for DRR Knowledge and Education organized an event on 'Sharing Experiences on Safer School Initiatives around the World' that focused on the structural and non-structural dimensions of resilience, both  fundamental to school safety. Safe school initiatives were discussed during the session with a view to instructing on best practices and moving the dialogue on a global school safety programme forward.

The World Heritage Centre (WHC) led the featured event on ‘Heritage and Resilience’. This event addressed the deterioration of historic properties and cultural heritage sites due to disasters, as well as the unquantifiable losses in intangible heritage which are often ignored or loosely addressed. The event counted with presentations illustrating how to make such invaluable heritage resilient to natural and man-made hazards, for example through the post-2015 development agenda including the Post-2015 Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

The UNESCO Unit on Disaster Risk Reduction participated in the event on ‘Applying Science and Technology to Policy and Practice in DRR’. This event featured lively dialogue and debate between scientists and policy makers to identify ways forward for effective cooperation between scientists and policy makers. Existing ‘disconnects’ of science, policy and practice in disaster risk reduction were addressed. Challenges in applying scientific knowledge to policy-making and practice for disaster risk reduction were discussed and priority areas of action for the Post-2015 Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction were identified.

The event also provided an opportunity for members of the Global Alliance for Disaster Risk Reduction Knowledge and Education to meet and further the alliance’s mandate. The alliance is a multi-stakeholder partnership of international organizations, UN agencies, NGOs and partners, through which organizations collaborate to provide guidance in disaster risk reduction education and school safety. The alliance functions through three working groups on Safe Educational Facilities, School Disaster Management and Risk Reduction and Resilience Education.

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