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United Nations University (UNU)

Organization Profile


The overarching goal of the United Nations University is to contribute to global sustainable development that will enable present generations to live a decent life in peace, in freedom, in safety, and in good health, without compromising the ability of future generations to do the same. In pursuit of this ideal, the UN University employs a systems-oriented, interdisciplinary, problem-solving approach that integrates the methodological rigor of the natural and physical sciences with the insights of the social sciences and humanities.

The programme space within which UNU undertakes its academic activities encompasses five interdependent thematic clusters within the overarching thesis of “sustainability”:

• Population and Health;
• Development Governance;
• Peace, Security and Human Rights;
• Global Change and Sustainable Development;
• Science, Technology and Society.

These five thematic clusters, and the topics of focus that they encompass, are interlinked and interdependent in the sense that none can be addressed in isolation.

Disaster Reduction Goal

Some of the UNU Institutes have at the core of their mandate to contribute to disaster risk reduction and increase resilience of exposed communities. Notably, the UNU Institute for Environment and Human Security addresses the risk and vulnerability aspects of human security and the consequences of complex environmental hazards for sustainable development.

Membership in Key Networks

• International Flood Initiative (IFI)
• International Programme on Landslides (IPL)
• Associated Programme on Flood Management (APFM)
• Global Risk Identification Programme (GRIP)
• Global Environment Fund (GEF)
• International Council for Science (ICSU)
• International Consortium of Landslides (ICL)
• DesertNet International
• Group on Earth Observation (GEO) - Institutions and Development Implementation Board
• Munich Climate Insurance Initiative (MCII)
• Partnership for Environment and Disaster Risk Reduction
• In the year 2007 alone, UNU worked with almost 50 UN system partners.

National Counterpart

National universities, research institutions, ministries, depending on the system of governance and focus of the activities.

Risk assessment and early warning systems

View 2011 UNU DRR profile

Research in Africa, Asia and Europe on vulnerability, resilience and risk assessment. The work consists in developing new assessment concepts and frameworks, as well as assessing risks to environmental hazards.

Education, information and public awareness

Joint International MSc Programme on the Geography of Environmental Risks and Human Security. The joint international MSc Programme, developed by the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) and the University of Bonn is expected to launch in October 2013. The main purpose of the MSc Programme is to educate students on how to investigate and manage various resources related to environmental hazards by implementing science-based principles and methodologies in disaster risk management.

UNU-EHS PhD Block Courses: From Vulnerability to Resilience in Disaster Risk Management. The UNU-EHS PhD Block Courses highlight the complexity and importance of vulnerability and resilience in disaster risk management. They are offered every year in collaboration with the University of Bonn; Germany, as well as with the Disaster Management Training and Education Centre for Africa (DiMTEC), University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa. The courses are designed for postgraduate candidates in the early stages of PhD research (or about to begin PhD studies) and advanced Master’s degree students.

West African Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL) Graduate Research Programme. Starting in 2013 UNU-EHS is contributing to the WASCAL Graduate Research Programme, which is supporting and facilitating academic education amongst West African universities, in association with German counterpart institutions. Out of a total of nine different PhD and Master programmes, UNU-EHS actively supports the following programmes: Climate Change and Human Security (University of Lomé, Togo); and Climate Change and Education (University of The Gambia, Serrekunda, Gambia).

Reducing underlying risk factors

The Climate Risk Adaptation and Insurance in the Caribbean project led by the Munich Climate Insurance Initiative (MCII), in St. Lucia and Jamaica, implements parametric insurance products for people in the low income sector to help them cope with losses to their livelihoods caused by excess rain and heavy winds.

UNU-EHS contributes scientific knowledge and capacity development modules as part of the Partnership for Ecosystems and Disaster Risk Reduction (PEDRR).

Disaster Risk Reduction Focal Point(s)

Dr. Fabrice Renaud, Head of Section, UNU-EHS, UN Campus, Hermann-Ehlers-Str. 10, 53113 Bonn, Germany (renaud@ehs.unu.edu)

Alternate: Dr. Joerg Szarzynski, Head of Section (same address as above, (szarzynski@ehs.unu.edu)



General contact information

  • URL: http://www.unu.edu/
  • Address: Shibuya-ku, Jingumae 5-53-70
  • Postal Code: 150-8925
  • City: Tokyo
  • Country: Japan
  • Telephone: +81 354671212
  • Fax: +81 334992828
  • Email: mbox@hq.unu.edu
  • Head of the organization: David Malone

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Last updated on 23 May 2013

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Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030

Documents, tools and processes
Working Areas
  • Hazards
  • Cold Wave
  • Cyclone
  • Drought
  • Earthquake
  • Flood
  • Heat Wave
  • Land Slide
  • Storm Surge
  • Tornado
  • Tsunami
  • Volcano
  • Themes
  • Capacity Development
  • Climate Change
  • Community-based DRR
  • Complex Emergency
  • Disaster Risk Management
  • Early Warning
  • Economics of DRR
  • Education & School Safety
  • Environment
  • Food Security & Agriculture
  • Gender
  • Governance
  • Indigenous Knowledge
  • Media
  • Public-private Partnerships
  • Recovery
  • Risk Identification & Assessment
  • Social Impacts & Resilience
  • Urban Risk & Planning
  • Vulnerable Populations
  • Water
Working areas are based on content submissions. Update your organization profile by sharing your work in disaster risk reduction.

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