Sudan Division: Rio+20 offers the world a unique chance to advance the sustainable development agenda. The conference has three main objectives: to secure renewed political commitment to sustainable development, to assess progress and gaps in implementation of agreed commitments, and to address new and emerging challenges. The two themes of the Conference are a green economy within the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, and the institutional framework for sustainable development.
Mapping Zones of Inundation Risk
One of the keys to improve climate resilience is to strengthen the knowledge management system of countries. UNESCO is fostering research on “Preparedness for Flood Risk Reduction through Mapping and Assessing Risk and Management Options and Building Capacity in Lal Bakaiya Watershed, Nepal”. The project is developing multi hazard maps to better identify flood hazards, and assess vulnerability and climate change risks. The study is also trying to identify and assess structural and non-structural mitigation measures and adaptation options, including strategies to build capacities of key stakeholders through awareness raising, training, networking and institutional strengthening. It is being implemented under the HKH-FRIEND Initiative, with ICIMOD co-funding.
Education for Disaster Risk Reduction
The disasters in Haiti and Pakistan in 2010 have shown the need for education to build a culture of safety and resilience at all levels. Indeed, education in disaster risk reduction strategies can save lives and prevent injuries should a hazardous event occur; prevent interruptions to the provision of education, or ensure its swift resumption in the event of an interruption. It also develops a resilient population that is able to reduce the economic, social and cultural consequences.
UNESCO gives policy advice and technical assistance in restoring education systems in post-disaster situations. It is active in advocacy, networking and participation in interagency activities, to make sure that educational needs are addressed in post-disaster settings. It is actively involved in post-disaster programmes.
The Myanmar Education Recovery Programme (MERP) enhances the resilience of the education sector by focusing on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Emergency Preparedness. In order to help the country’s catastrophe contingency plans, UNESCO, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Education, has produced a comprehensive multi-stakeholder capacity-building package on Disaster Risk Reduction in Education which includes a focus on the impacts of climate change. In 2010, over two thousand educators from affected townships in Myanmar participated in training on DRR in education. Furthermore, over one hundred teacher trainers from 20 teacher training institutes in Myanmar received similar training. As a result, over 400 000 students in affected areas have benefited from educational content focused on disaster preparedness.
Tsunami Early Warning Systems
UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission
(IOC) provides the intergovernmental coordination of tsunami early warning and mitigation systems at both global and regional levels. Overall more than 400 sea level stations are reporting real-time observations through the IOC Sea Level Station Monitoring Facility (up from 25 stations at the end of 2006). The number of seismic stations that deliver data in real time has increased from about 350 in 2004 to more than 1200 today. While lives have been saved by the existing operational tsunami warning systems, the earthquake and tsunami off Tohoku in Japan on 11 March 2011 once more demonstrated that communities living close to potentially tsunamigenic zones should step up their efforts to develop awareness, preparedness and mitigation measures. Development of the tsunami warning systems in the Indian Ocean, Caribbean and North East Atlantic and Mediterranean and Connected Seas are making steady progress. Three tsunami information centres are currently in operation with a fourth to be established. Four regional systems for global early warning are being established with the support of UNESCO-IOC.
A Tsunami Warning System in the Indian Ocean
The magnitude 9.0 earthquake of 26 December 2004 triggered a basin-wide Indian Ocean tsunami that killed more than 200,000 people in eleven countries – over 30,000 of them in Sri Lanka, some 1600 kilometres away from the epicentre in Indonesia. The Indian Ocean tsunami warning system, set up by UNESCO-IOC, became fully operational in October 2011.
Protecting Cultural Heritage
World Heritage sites are exposed to natural and man-made disasters which menace their integrity and can compromise their natural and cultural significance. UNESCO, as the leading guardian of the world’s heritage, is closely involved in risk assessment and rescue operations to protect monuments and urban historic centres, sites, museums, and archives, in cooperation with other international conservation institutions. The Organization has implemented numerous projects to safeguard cultural sites and objects in the wake of disasters, such as the temples of Prambanan (Indonesia), severely damaged by earthquakes in 2006. The Organization has published several manuals and guidelines on protecting cultural sites, such as the policy document “A Strategy for Reducing Risks at World Heritage Properties.”
Did you know?
The number of water-related disasters has steadily increased from an annual average of 263 in the 1990s, costing a total annual average of US$50 billion, to an annual average of 412 in 2000-09, costing US$72 billion in real terms.
Over 300,000 lives are claimed each year because of climate change. Over 300 million people are seriously affected. According to various estimates, between 24 million and almost 700 million people have already been displaced because of environmental changes over the past few decades, with one million new cases every year, largely as a result of water-related factors.54
By 2050, extreme weather could reduce global gross domestic product (GDP) by 1 per cent and that, unabated, climate change could cost at least 5 per cent of global GDP each year.
By Alula Berhe Kidani, 30/04/2012
Started in year 2010, ‘Climate Himalaya’ initiative has been working on the mountain and climate related issues in the Himalayan region of South Asia. In the last two years this knowledge sharing portal has become one of the important references for the governments, research institutions, civil society groups and international agencies, those have work and interest in Himalayas. The Climate Himalaya team innovates on knowledge sharing, capacity building and climatic adaptation aspects in its focus countries like Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan. Climate Himalaya’s thematic areas of work are mountain ecosystem, water, forest and livelihood. Read>>