CENTRO DE INFORMACION DE LAS NACIONES UNIDAS PARA MEXICO, CUBA Y REPUBLICADOMINICANA


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BOLETIN ONU OCTUBRE 24 , 1999
Núm. 99/88
 


INTERNATIONAL OBSERVANCE OF THE 1999
WORLD DISASTER REDUCTION DAY IN MEXICO CITY

The observance of the 1999 International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction was held in Mexico City, co- hosted by the Mexican Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the United Nations Organization. The high-level ceremony included the presentation of the UN-Sasakawa Award for disaster prevention and a round table on seismic risk reduction.  This year’s observance focused on seismic risk reduction, within the 1999’s World Disaster Reduction Campaign: “Prevention Pays”.

The Ceremony was inaugurated by Ambassador Rosario Green, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mexico. Also taking part in the ceremony were, Mr. Philippe Boullé, Director of the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction Secretariat, Mr. Takashi Ito, from Nippon Foundation, sponsor of the UN-Sasakawa Award, and Mr. Moustafa Erdik, the 1999 winner of the Award.

Participants highlighted the need for effective prevention and mitigation policies — which include early warning systems and land-use planning —, and the importance of building a “culture of prevention” on the long term. It was also stressed that the effects of disasters are aggravated by factors like poverty and demographic pressure. Since the poor are the most vulnerable to natural hazards, it is essential for them to benefit from prevention disaster policies, speakers said.

Ambassador Green stated that it is essential to identify specific projects and toestablish an efficient and transparent mechanism for directing resources to natural disaster reduction. She also emphasized the achievements of international cooperation in this field, within the Central American and the Caribbean region, which include not only emergency management cooperation, but also prevention.

“Disaster reduction is not an activity to be left to Governments alone”, stated Mr. Boullé, “to succeed, it must also engage professionals in many fields, decision makers, community leaders, other elements of civil society, the private sector and the media”.

The UN-Sasakawa Award winner, Mr. Erdik, emphasized the need for strong political will, public concern, and awareness to succeed in mitigating earthquake risks. Mr. Erdik who has played a key role in disseminating the prevention message, specially regarding seismic risk reduction, added that several international activities in this regard are being implemented, such as the RADIUS initiative (Risk Assessment Tools for Diagnosis of Urban Areas against Seismic Disasters) of the IDNDR Secretariat.

Parallel to the events in Mexico City, the northern city of Tijuana hosted the Symposium on the Radius Initiative: towards Earthquake cities, which presented the achievements of the project and proposed future activities for the 21st. Century. The Symposium started on October 13 and will end on 14 October.


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