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THE FUTURE OF DRYLANDS REVISITED
THE FUTURE OF DRYLANDS REVISITED

 

 

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A global plan to curb landslide losses


A Global Action Plan to reduce both human and financial losses caused by landslides was adopted in Tokyo (Japan) on 20 January, at an international meeting held under the auspices of UNESCO and in conjunction with the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.
The meeting also set up a global network of International Programmes on Landslides. Based at Kyoto University in Japan, the network will function under the aegis of UNESCO and other international bodies.
The Global Action Plan foresees strengthening human resources and boosting funding to ensure adequate risk assessment and identify hazard zones. It will also foster the drawing-up of appropriate building codes, safety regulations and response plans. To reduce landslide risk, the Plan will also target local institutes and universities, encouraging them to develop expertise and early warning measures. In parallel, the Plan will foster education and research.
Almost a year to the day after the UN World Conference on Disaster Reduction in Kobe (Japan), close to 100 experts from 14 countries spent three days at the United Nations University setting international priorities for mitigating losses due to landslides.
Landslides are the seventh most deadly natural hazard in the world, after droughts, windstorms, floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and related disasters and extreme temperature. On average, a single landslide claims 800–1000 lives.
Landslides and mudslides can be triggered by heavy rain, as in the case of the tragic mudslide last February in the Philippines, or by rapidly melting ice or snow. They can also occur when an overflowing crater lake sends large amounts of earth, rock, sand or mud down mountain slopes, especially slopes covered in sparse vegetation where there is little to slow the movement of the slide. Landslides and mudslides can reach speeds of over 50 km/h and bury, crush or carry away people, objects and buildings. They also threaten some of the world’s most precious cultural sites, including several UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Episodes of heavy rainfall are becoming more intense and more frequent. This trend is drastically increasing the number of casualties associated with landslides, especially in developing countries where pressure on land often leads to the cultivation of slopes, an activity conducive to disastrous landslides. All regions experience landslide disasters but the damage they cause is most acute in developing countries, where the knowledge base required to identify landslide-prone areas is often either non-existent or fragmentary. With climate change, landslides could also be caused by new factors.

For details: http://icl.dpri.kyoto-u.ac.jp;www.unesco.org/disasters or contact B. Rouhban

 
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