World Conference on Disaster Reduction
World Conference on Disaster Reduction is a United Nations conference bringing together government officials, non-governmental experts and other specialists from around the world to discuss the growing trend of people affected by natural disasters.
A WCDR conference was held in Kobe, Japan January 18–22, 2005. This conference took on particular poignancy coming almost 10 years to the day after the Great Hanshin earthquake in Kobe and less than a month after the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and resulting tsunami. Japan's long history of severe natural disasters, prominence in international humanitarian aid and development and scientific achievements monitoring dangerous natural phenomena also made it a suitable conference venue.
The Conference adopted plans to put in place an International Early Warning Programme (IEWP), which was first proposed at the Second International Conference on Early Warning in 2003 in Bonn, Germany.
To find ways to reduce the toll of disasters through preparation, ultimately to reduce human casualties. Due to the proximity to the devastating tsunami, developing a global tsunami warning systems was high on the agenda. Other topics include:
- pledges to reduce disaster damage
- healthcare after disaster
- early warning systems
- safe building standards
- agree upon cost-effective preventative countermeasures
- a global database on relief and reconstruction and a centre on water hazards
The Pacific Rim Tsunami Warning system is an example of a cost-effective warning system; its yearly operating cost is approximately USD 4 million. The yearly operating cost of a hypothetical global warning system is estimated at USD $30 million. This cost, compared to the international aid donations of nearly USD $8 billion for the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, clearly demonstrates the cost effectiveness of such a system.
Initially the conference did not garner much attention but due to the recent disasters, the attendance grew dramatically and the international media focused on the event. Emperor Akihito opened the conference and welcomed 4,000 participants from around the world from the following organizations and functions:
- Experts and scientists from 150 countries
- Government officials
- United Nations
Hyogo Framework for Action
The Hyogo Framework for Action was an outcome of the 2005 conference held in Kobe, Japan. The HFA suggests five specific priorities for action:
- Making disaster risk reduction a priority;
- Improving risk information and early warning;
- Building a culture of safety and resilience;
- Reducing the risks in key sectors;
- Strengthening preparedness for response.