Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction

      First session, Geneva, Switzerland
      5 - 7 June 2007


GP Acting with common purpose
Acting with Common Purpose
Proceedings of the first session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction
[English] - [Spanish]

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United Nations
International Strategy for Disaster Reduction


High level dialogue


The high-level dialogue took place on the first day of the session, Tuesday 5 June 2007, from 3 to 6 p.m. There was a debate between selected panellists and the plenary that included Ministers, Heads of UN organizations and prominent civil society representatives. The panellists have been chosen for their expertise and experience, their support and commitment to reducing vulnerability to disasters for the most vulnerable, as well as their outspokenness. They covered a broad spectrum of perspectives related to the themes of the dialogue. The discussion was moderated by a professional facilitator.

In the context of disaster risk reduction, the Dialogue considered two major issues: (1) climate change, with a focus on disaster reduction as a key strategy for climate change adaptation and (2) cities at risk, with a focus on challenges in reducing risk in mega-cities and other urban settings. Cross-cutting themes included the costs and benefits of disaster risk reduction and challenges in moving disaster risk reduction higher up the policy agenda.


Mishal Husain

Ms. Mishal Husain is an anchor for the BBC's international news channel BBC World and BBC National News bulletins. She joined the BBC in 1998; as a business presenter she worked on the 'World Business Report' and also launched the BBC's 'Asia Business Report' programme, based in Singapore. Mishal was Washington Correspondent for BBC News and BBC's anchor in Washington D.C. She has been a presenter on the BBC arts, media, entertainment and culture talk show HardTalk Extra. She has a wealth of international experience and is widely respected as an incisive and intelligent interviewer.


(alphabetical order)

Robin Burgess

As a reader in Economics at the London School of Economics (LSE) and Co-director of its Economic Organisation and Public Policy Programme, Professor Burgess' areas of research interest include development economics, public economics, political economy and labour economics. His research focuses on identifying policy and institutional reforms which are capable of delivering higher growth and lower poverty in developing countries. He sits on a variety of economic and development committees and has consulted extensively for the World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the Indian Government.

Daniel Gagnier

Mr. Daniel Gagnier chairs the Board of Directors of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (ISSD). After holding positions with the federal and provincial governments of Canada, and in the corporate world, he was Alcan Inc.'s Senior Vice President, Corporate and External Affairs from 1994 to 2007, in charge of corporate communications, government relations, occupational health and safety, and environment. He is active on a number of Boards and organizations to promote standards, sustainability and social responsibility.

Dean R. Hirsh

Mr. Dean R. Hirsh is the President and Chief Executive Officer of World Vision International, a leading relief and development organization that promotes the well-being of people around the world, especially children. A veteran of wide experience in global trouble spots, Mr. Hirsch has set up famine relief efforts in Ethiopia and AIDS prevention programmes in Africa and Asia, as well as peace-building efforts in Bosnia, Rwanda, and El Salvador. He brings a non-governmental perspective to the Dialogue.

Saleemul Huq

Mr. Saleemul Huq is the director of the Climate Change Programme at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), in London (UK) and the founder and chairman of the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies. He has been actively involved in developing participatory environmental planning and management methodologies for the last two decades. He was the coordinating lead author of the chapter on Adaptation and Mitigation in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)'s fourth assessment report.

Cristelle Pratt

Ms. Cristelle Pratt is the Director of SOPAC (Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission), the regional intergovernmental organization with mandated responsibilities for leading the coordination of disaster risk management activities in the Pacific Islands Region. Prior to that, she has worked both in the private sector, consulting on corporate risk management and business continuity, and in the public sector, working for national government in the mineral sector. She has tertiary qualifications in Geoscience and Marine Management (Law and Policy).


Reto Schnarwiler

As Head Public Sector Business Development at Swiss Reinsurance, Mr. Reto Schnarwiler is the leading manager responsible for interaction with the public sector entities globally and a key liaison for Swiss Re-World Bank joint activities. Swiss Re offers a variety of risk management solutions, including innovative products such as natural catastrophe bonds, weather derivatives and index based products. Reto Schnarwiler provides a private sector perspective to the Dialogue.

Violeta Seva

A specialist in urban management issues, Ms. Violeta Somera Seva is the former General Manager of Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA). She has close relations with local authorities associations such as the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), the Regional Network of Local Authorities for the Management of Human Settlements (CITYNET), the World Association of Major Metropolises (METROPOLIS), etc. Atty. Seva is currently a management consultant to the Office of the Mayor of the City Government of Makati in a variety of areas including disaster risk reduction. She is the General Secretary and Treasurer of the Earthquake and Megacities Initiative (EMI), an international scientific NGO dedicated to earthquake preparedness, mitigation and recovery of large urban areas.

Kadir Topbas

Mr. Kadir Topbas has been the Mayor of Istanbul Province since 2004. An architect by profession, with a PhD in architectural history from the University of Istanbul, he served between 1994 and 1998 as advisor to Mayor Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the restoration and decoration historical buildings in Istanbul. He has been Deputy Mayor and then Mayor of Beyoglu district in Istanbul. He has a deep understanding of urban risk and of the challenges faced by large human settlements, with acute vulnerability and exposure to hazards.

Lousewies van der Laan

A former member of the Dutch Parliament and of the European Parliament (Liberal Democrat), Ms. van de Laan is an environmental specialist and a strong advocate for women’s rights. In the European Parliament, she was active on a range of issues focusing on civil liberties, environmental affairs, budget and foreign affairs. She was spokeswoman for the EC Commissioner for External Relations. Back home, she focused on foreign affairs, higher education, justice, technology, European affairs and gay rights.

He Yongnian

Mr. He Yongnian is a Professor of seismology and an administrative official in the management of earthquake prevention and disaster reduction in China. He is vice-president of China's Senior Scientists Association and China's Disaster Reduction Society. He has also worked in the Chinese Academy of Sciences; he was also the Deputy-Director General in charge of scientific development, prevention of earthquake disaster and international cooperation of the China Earthquake Administration.