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Disasters: Interdisciplinary Approaches for Risk Reduction and Management

Thursday 14 June, 9.00-12.00

Watch session part I

Watch session part II

View Co-Convenors' recommendations

Session co-conveners

  • Jane E. Rovins, Executive Director, Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR) Programme
  • Badaoui Rouhban, Director, Section for Disaster Reduction, UNESCO


  • Gretchen Kalonji, Assistant Director-General for the UNESCO Science Sector
  • Gordon McBean, Professor/Director Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction, Departments of Geography and Political Science, The University of Western Ontario, Canada
  • Abdou Sane, Président du réseau des parlementaires sénégalais pour l'Habitat, la Sécurité, la Prévention et la Gestion des Risques de Catastrophes liées aux Changements climatiques, Sénégal
  • Ana Maria Cruz, Editorial Manager; GCOE, Visiting Adjunct Professor, Kyoto University, Uji Campus,  Kyoto, Japan
  • Peter Höppe, Head of Geo Risks Research Department, Corporate Climate Centre, Munich, Germany
  • Allan Lavell, Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR) programme Scientific Committee member, UK
  • Walter Ammann, President/CEO Global Risk Forum GRF Davos, Switzerland
  • Kuniyoshi Takeuchi, Director/International Center for Water Hazard and Risk Management (ICHARM), Japan


Disasters are increasing in terms of frequency, complexity, scope and destructive capacity. They have recently struck developing and developed countries alike, causing death, suffering, destruction and damage on a massive scale. One important aspect of sustainable development is the mitigation of the destructive effects of natural hazards on societies through a focus on reduction of vulnerability of people, buildings, and infrastructure.

Coping with hazards - whether natural or attributable to human activity - is one of the greatest challenges of the applications of science and technology in the 21st century. Progresses in the science and technology of natural hazards and of related coping mechanisms have made it possible over the past years to introduce significant changes in the integrated approach to the problematic of natural disasters. Science and technology help us to understand the mechanism of natural hazards that have atmospheric, geological and hydrological causes, such as earthquakes, floods, windstorms, tsunamis, landslides, volcanic eruptions and droughts, and to analyze the transformation of these hazards into disasters. Scientific knowledge of the violent forces of nature is made up of an orderly system of facts that have been learned from study, experiments and observations of hazards and their impacts on humankind and its works.

Disaster risk reduction (DRR) is both possible and feasible if science and technologies related to natural hazards are adequately applied. There has to be a shift in perception from a purely re-active towards a pro-active approach to address vulnerability, risk assessment and disaster management, including prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery including collaboration of a multitude of partners representing all relevant sectors in disaster risk management, which is an essential element of a safer world.

Aim of the session

The session will provide an overview of experiences in disaster risk reduction and the role that science and technologies play in DRR to reduce the vulnerability of societies. Two major topics will be discussed during the session (i) new developments in risk management, (ii) integrating science and disaster risk (i.e. early warning). The session will discuss interdisciplinary approaches on building resilience to cope with the impacts of the disasters. It will also suggest best practices of DRR to achieve sustainable development and human security.

Structure of the session

The session will consist of two panel discussions moderated by a co-convener, with audience interaction.

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