25.11.2011 - Natural Sciences Sector

Predicted disasters, present disasters

© UNESCO/Zhanat KulenovThe Aral Sea is dryng up. Bay id Zhalanash, Ship Cemetery

On the occasion of the release of the summary for Policymakers of the Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adapation (SREX) —which was approved on 18 November 2011 by member states of the Intergovernemental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)— the French Association for Natural Disaster Reduction (AFPCN) and UNESCO are holding a joint conference on 12 December 2011.

The particularity and high significance of this document lies in an eighteen month long collaboration of two different scientific communities: one on climate change (IPCC) and one on disaster risk reduction (ISDR). This joint endeavor between these two communities, about twenty‐two years after their simultaneous creation by the United Nations, is in itself a great step forward that must be acknowledged, and the resulting report deserves a very careful reading to understanding its nuances.

The 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will be held in Durban, South Africa, from 28 November to 9 December, just a year after the United Nations Climate Change conference held in Cancun in 2010, and two years after the Copenhagen Conference. Following the Global Forum it convened last May in Geneva, the ISDR is actively working on the organization of meetings next year that will guide its future policy and actions.

The AFPCN considers that the conference it is convening on 12 December comes at a crucial moment, nine months after the Tôhuku‐Fukushima disaster, that resulted, as the Lisbon's one (1755), from the sequence of an earthquake, a tsunami and a fire/explosion. Organised together with AFPCN’s European platform partners and in partnership with UNESCO, this conference will be dedicated to discussions, comments and debates in the overall context of disaster risk reduction, including its scientific and cultural dimensions.

The conference will be divided into two parts, centered around the Round table on the SREX. In the morning, after the opening by UNESCO and AFPCN and the keynote address by a historian of surrealism, disasters and their consequences will be closely analysed by experts in fields as varied as philsophy, mathematical modelization and earth sciences.Technical issues relating to measures, thresholds, limits and costs of excess will be discussed, in both their material and intellectual dimensions, as well as the importance of interdisciplinarity to better understand and decide.

The afternoon will be dedicated to an extensive debate on the SREX, comparing the views of several representatives of organizations involved in disaster risk management. This discussion will be followed by a comparative analysis of the German and French public adaptation policies to climate change and finally by a dialogue between researchers and research program officers on disasters and sustainable development.

Concluding statements, taking into account the political dimension of the subject, will be made by the representative of the Minister for Ecology rand by a representative of the French permanent delegation to UNESCO.

To attend, please see the registration form (.pdf).

Related links

Programme (.pdf)
registration form (.pdf)
French Association for Natural Disaster Reduction  
Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adapation (SREX)
Presentation of the special report (.pdf)

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