UNESCO is the United Nations’ specialized agency for education, science and culture. Since its creation in 1945, the Organization has worked to promote knowledge and education worldwide. Its close links with professional and academic communities and other partners in 193 countries put it in a key position to press for action.
UNESCO works to create the conditions for dialogue among civilizations, cultures and peoples, based upon respect for commonly shared values. It is through this dialogue that the world can achieve global visions of sustainable development, encompassing observance of human rights, mutual respect and the alleviation of poverty, all of which are at the heart of UNESCO’S mission and activities.
UNESCO’s mission is to contribute to the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information.
Disaster Reduction Goal
UNESCO supports Member States to reduce vulnerability to natural hazards and strengthen their capacity to cope with disasters by: providing expertise in the areas of establishing early warning systems; building capacity within line Ministries to ensure systems are prepared and able to respond; and network establishment / strengthening in DRR work.
Policies and Programmes in DRR
In its 34th session, the General Conference of UNESCO included contributing to disaster mitigation and preparedness among the fourteen Strategic Programme Objectives in the Organization’s Medium Term Strategy for 2008-2013. Since 2008 the biennial programmes of UNESCO contain a specific main line of actions on DRR.
UNESCO provides intergovernmental coordination, advice to governments and policy support for the establishment and operation of monitoring networks and early warning and risk mitigation systems for natural hazards, with particular emphasis on earthquakes, tsunamis, coastal hazards, floods and landslides.
It also promotes joint multi-stakeholder strategies for enhancing disaster education and awareness as an intrinsic element of the United Nations Decade on Education for Sustainable Development (UN DESD) led by UNESCO, especially in communities at risk located in Africa, LDCs and SIDS.
Integrated approaches and synergies between the natural sciences, the social sciences, culture, education and information systems lay the basis for interdisciplinary platforms to manage disaster risks.
Highlights of impact since 2011
UNESCO plays a major role in the global coordination and monitoring of the Tsunami Early Warning Systems in both technical development (upstream) as well as in community preparedness for tsunami hazards (downstream). Tsunami Information Centres have been established and serve as an information resource that shares and distributes educational, awareness and preparedness materials and publications. In addition, in cooperation with regional, sub-regional and national partners, the Organization strengthens local capacities in preparedness, developing SOPs and tsunami emergency responses with special focus on SIDS. Provision of early warning services for other coastal hazards is underpinned by the development of operational ocean forecast systems within the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS).
Flood Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Measures in the Asia and the Pacific Region are being developed at the regional level through common Flood Forecasting and Warning Systems and Disaster Reduction Hyperbases. Web-based platforms for easy access to early warning are aiding their implementation and use by practitioners from local communities, research centers, government institutions and universities in a number of countries.
At National level Flood Early Warning systems are being supported (i.e. Pakistan, Namibia, among others), guidebooks for students have been developed on “Preventing/Reducing the risks of earthquakes and floods” (Jordan) while training teachers on their use and carrying out pilots with them in twenty two schools.
A Drought Early Warning System (drought monitor) has been transferred from the USA to climate related centres in Western (ECOWAS) and Eastern (IGAD) Africa Regions, while capacity has been built by training local experts on its use.
Mainstreaming DRR in the Education sector has been a focus of the Organization consisting of a number of initiatives such as:
• Advocate for DRR in the education sector (Ministries of Education);
• Support to policy development on DRR in the education sector, in the framework of ESD;
• Provide guidance on mainstreaming DRR into the education sector as well as the minimum standards for preparedness, response and recovery have been developed and translated;
• Develop capacity for DRR and emergency response in the education sector;
• Develop and disseminate teaching and learning materials on DRR in the education sector;
• Organize campaigns to promote a culture of prevention through education;
• Promote a School-Based Disaster Preparedness Model tested in schools.
Support is provided to Member States to integrate Disaster Risk Reduction into national policies and planning. The Organization has developed community self-assessment tools and educational & awareness-raising materials that integrate local and indigenous knowledge with science.
Furthermore, UNESCO has been proactive in protecting our common heritage from the effects of natural hazards by supporting Member States to be prepared (rapid response activities) and to set up prevention mechanisms (early warning systems). Finally, UNESCO supported countries in simulating evacuation drills at schools and trained the teachers on the appropriate evacuation measures.
Membership in Key Networks
• Inter-Agency Group (IAG)
• Global Earthquake Model (GEM)
• Global Risk Forum (GRF Davos)
• International Flood Initiative (IFI)
• International Consortium on Landslides (ICL)
• Integrated Global Observing Strategy (IGOS)
• Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS)
• World Climate Research Programme (WCRP)
• International Platform for Reducing Earthquake Disasters (IPRED)
• Partnership for Environment and Disaster Risk Reduction (PEDRR)
• Thematic Platform on Knowledge and Education (TPKE)
• Coalition for Global School Safety and Disaster Prevention Education (GOGSS-DPE)
• International Centre for Water Hazards and Risk Management (ICHARM )
• International Network on Education in Emergencies (INEE)
• Regional Inter-agency Cluster on DRM in the Education Sector in Latin America and the Caribbean
• National Commissions of UNESCO
• National committees of water, oceanographic and earth sciences
• National disaster risk reduction authorities
• Regional disaster risk reduction entities
• Ministries of Education
• Construction and Meteorology and related extension services
UNESCO is active in the preservation of cultural heritage. the Organization promotes strategies for the protection of UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Making Cities Resilient Campaign Activities
UNESCO has made efforts in promoting the 10 essentials for the “Making Cities Resilient” campaign, especially in the field of Essential No. 5 (school safety), Essential No. 6 (building regulations) and Essential No. 7 (DRR education). UNESCO is already a partner of the One Million Safe Schools and Hospitals Campaign and will continue its efforts in advocating school safety and DRR education. In addition, for the time being UNESCO is currently coordinating the ISDR Global Task Force on Building Codes (http://www.unesco-ipred.org/gtfbc/) and intends to contribute to the World Campaign by providing information on realistic risk-compliant building codes and practices.
Disaster Risk Reduction Focal Point(s)
Mr. Alexandros Makarigakis, Ph.D, Chief of Unit a.i. , Cross-Cutting Thematic Unit on Disaster Risk Reduction email@example.com, Tel: +33 1 456 84 178
Education focal point: Ms. Julia Heiss, Program Specialist, Education for Sustainable Development firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: +33 1 456 81 036
World Heritage Centre focal point: Mr. Giovanni Boccardi, Program Specialist,
email@example.com, Tel: +33 1 456 81 416
IOC focal points: Mr. Aarup Thorkild, Chief a.i., Tsunami Unit
firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: +33 1 456 84019 and Mr. Bernardo Aliaga, Programme Specialist, Tsunami Unit email@example.com, Tel. +33 1 456 83890
GOOS Unit: Mr. Albert Fischer
firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: +33 1 456 84040
Ms. Astrid Hollander, Programme Specialist, Enrique Delpiano 2058, Providencia, Santiago de Chile email@example.com, Tel: +56 2 4724600
Mr. Jonathan Baker, Natural Sciences Programme Specialist, 2810 Paseo Colon, San Jose, Costa Rica firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: +506 88167081
Mr. Danny Padilla, ESD Programme Coordinator and Liaison Officer, UNESCO Bangkok, 920 Sukhumvit Rd, Bangkok 10110, Thailand
email@example.com, Tel: +66 23910577 ext. 344, Fax +66 23910866
Dr. Denis Chang Seng, Programme Specialist /Advisor for Natural Sciences, UNESCO Office for the Pacific States, P.O.Box 615, Apia, Samoa
firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: +685 24276 / 7295004, Fax +685 26593
Mr. Rajendra Prasad, UNESCO/IOC Programme Officer, c/o SPC-SOPAC Division, Suva, Fiji
email@example.com, Tel: +685 24276
Mr. Ardito M. Kodijat, Programme Officer for Disaster Risk Reduction and Tsunami Information Unit, UNESCO Jakarta Office
firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: +62-21-7399818 ext. 878
Mr. Sameer Luqman Qureshi and Mr. Raza Shah, Focal Point for DRR, UNESCO Islamabad Office
email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: +92-51-2600243
7, Place de Fontenoy, 1.037 75116 Paris France
GP 2013 delegation
GP 2011 delegation
GP 2009 delegation
Conferences: - 6th Annual Meeting of the EFDRR
- UNISDR Science and Technology Conference
- AMCDRR 2016