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close this bookUN-IDNDR and QUIPUNET Internet Conference - Solutions for Cities at Risk - International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR)
View the document(introductory text...)
View the documentPreface
Open this folder and view contentsThe conference co-sponsors
View the documentIntroduction
Open this folder and view contentsWeek 1: 26 - 30 august - Topic: Plenary
Open this folder and view contentsWeek 2: 2-6 September 1996 - Topic: Why are disaster management scenarios useful?
Open this folder and view contentsWeek 3: 9-1 3 September - Topic: Case studies in community involvement
Open this folder and view contentsWeek 4: 16-20 September 1996 - Topic: Telecommunications and early warning
Open this folder and view contentsWeek 5: 23-27 September 1996 - Topic: Planning
Open this folder and view contentsWeek 6: 30 September - 3 October - Topic: Design, engineering, construction and maintenance
Open this folder and view contentsWeek 7: October 7-15 1996 - Topic: The role of universities in urban disaster reduction
Open this folder and view contentsWeek 8 October 16-18 1996 - Topic: More on community participation
Open this folder and view contentsWeek 9:21 -25 October 1990 - Topic: Environmental degradation and urban risk
View the documentAnnouncements from the organizers, press-releases, etc.
View the documentAnnex I - The 1997 IDNDR internet conference on solutions for cities at risk: Questionnaire results
View the documentAnnex II - Advisory board
View the documentAnnex III - Participants in the conference

Announcements from the organizers, press-releases, etc.

Date: Thu, 5 Sep 1996 07:01:07 -0700 (PDT)

Message from the Organizers

Message from the Organizers: Quipunet, IDNDR Secretariat, and IDNDR Regional Office Latin America/ Caribbean

Send in Your Comments

Alf Keller, in his paper, noted that the organizers scheduled papers to go "live" at various dates in order to stimulate interest for those looking at the conference. In reality, he said, it didn't work exactly that way.

In our conference, there are many people who check their screens every day. There are also many who don't: they travel, they register after the conference begins, they read the messages but then don't have time to respond, etc.

We should take advantage of the flexibility of being in cyberspace, allowing us to read and participate in the conference when we are able. Participants should be able to comment on various papers - even if they cannot do so the same week the papers appear. The disadvantage is that such comments may not be relevant to the discussion topic of the week.

CONCLUSION: If you have comments that refer to papers from previous weeks, please send them in, even if that week is finished.

In the subject of your message, write: RISK:

Comment, WEEK (select 1-9), Paper(s) by (name), (date). That way all readers will know that your comments relate to a previous week, not to the topic at hand. If your comment is about a topic not yet discussed, we will inform you and ask you to submit it during the relevant week. Let us know if you need Guidelines for Authors, a short paper with advice on how to best communicate your message in this forum. Please remember to keep it under 3 pages (or 1800 words). Remember, there are many people out there with slow computers and printers, and who do not speak English as a first language. Keep it short!

Please be sure to always include your full name, organization, country and e-mail.

Publicize Your Work on "Risk-events" and Receive the Latest News from Participants

Do you have an event, publication or project that you would like to announce to other participants? Would you like to receive information about what others are doing?

Send an e-mail to <>. In the body of the message, write subscribe risk-events Yourfirstname Yourlastname

You can then send your announcements to and your announcements will be seen by anyone else who has subscribed to the list

Suggestions when sending your announcement:

· tell us in the first line if it is a Conference, Project, Publication, Video, etc.
· give us a description of about half a page
· at the end, put "for more information contact: your name, organization, address, phone, fax

Please keep it short and factual - that's the most likely way others will read it!

You may submit the same message in more than one language. Just please keep it to one page!

The Risk-Events list is public and unmoderated.

Your announcement will also appear in the published proceedings of this conference (unless you indicate otherwise). It will also be announced on the conference home page in the section Announcements

Change in Conference Programme

Several conference comments and papers in week one highlighted the interaction between man and nature in "natural" disasters. The organizers have also received private comments and phone calls on this subject. We therefore suggest the following change in programme:

The original topic for week 9 was follow-up from IDNDR Day events and closing comments. All organizers of IDNDR Day events (9 October 1996) who would like to report them in this forum should use the Risk-Events list. The new topic will be:

Environmental Degradation and Urban Risks We are looking for a moderator, papers, and ideas about how this session should be shaped. Please send a message to Natalie Domeisen <> if you have suggestions.

Find out about Conference Participants

On the Web: check <http:\>, List of Participants. Participants are listed by country (with country flag), with full contact information. The list contains only those who have sent their registration forms to the IDNDR Secretariat. The list is updated weekly.

By e-mail: write to <> and in the body of the message write review risk (just those two words). You'll get a list of e-mails and names, along with the total number of registered participants. On average, the number has been growing by 10 or 20 each day since the conference began. We now-have 308 participants.

Jokes about Disasters

Disasters are a serious business, but sometimes we need a breather... Send us your jokes about disaster-related issues and we'll post them at the Virtual Cafe!

Date: Thu, 12 Sep 1996 01:50:01 -0700 (PDT)


Improving the Way We Communicate

Thanks for your ongoing interest and participation in helping to make this conference a success! We would like to share some tips on improving the way we communicate in this conference. Please take a moment to read through them, as a courtesy to fellow participants and in order to make sure that your message is being read and understood by others.

Imagine that the reader of your message is a city mayor; a person who takes a long time to read English; a person who has travelled for one week and comes back to receive many messages on his e-mail. How much of your message will the reader absorb?

Below are tips to make sure your most important messages are being read and absorbed by participants,

When writing your comments or papers

1. Do Not Write over Three Pages

One to three pages is best. Longer comments don't encourage dialogue. People tend to put the papers aside and not read them. Also, they block printers, especially slow ones.

2. Label Your Comment Clearly

In the subject area: type "WEEK (), Comment on...."

3. Use a Short Title at the Top of Your Comment

The title should contain a verb, and summarize the point of the comment

Subsurface Investigations In the oldest part of Istanbul (previously Constantinople). utilizing topography, surface geology, geotechnical data from bore holes loga, and historical and recent earthquake records. (FROM THE PAPER BY ERDIK AND SWIFT-AVCI, WEEK 2, DAY 4)

3. Use Subtitles

It's much easier to read! (For an example, see Alberto Delgado's paper in Week 1)

4. Group Your Thoughts

Do not make more than one point per paragraph.

5. Write Simply

Urban disaster mitigation is a topic which interests people from all walks of life. Detailed technical or academic explanations may not be understood in this forum by most participants. To make sure your message gets across, try not to use a long word if a short one will do.

6. Use Questions

For papers, include questions for participants at the end. We encourage comments in answer to questions posed in papers.

7. Tell Us Who You Are (Briefly!)

You may wish to add a short biographical note at the end of your comment. It should be up to 2 lines describing your professional liaison. Give your full contact address (including phone, fax and e-mail) and institutional affiliation.

8. Use Risk-Events to Publicize Your Work

This keeps the dialogue relevant to the subject at hand. Risk-Events is a parallel e-mail list. See last week's message from the organizers for more information about it.

9. Translations

Please provide your comment or paper in both Spanish and English if you can. It will ease the burden on volunteer translators. We are also looking for more translators in French.

How to Send Papers

1. Submit text in HTML format if possible (i.e., ready for Internet use) or ASCII format (rather than Word, Word Perfect, etc)

2. Submit graphics (if any) using GIF format. Do not send pictures or charts in hard copy! Put each graphic in a separate GIF file. Each GIF file should be smaller than 50 Kb

How to Send Your Comment

Please send your comments to the mailing list:


The moderator will review them and make sure they are sent to all conference participants. Your comments will be available at the web site. (Check the Archive of the Conference Section)

Avoid Bilateral Messages

Make sure your message is of interest to all participants if you post it to the mailing list. For bilateral messages, write directly to the individual.

- The e-mail address of individuals is included with the comment or paper.

-The full contact information of participants who sent in registration forms can be found at the web site for this conference. That is
<> or

A full list of those who registered, with names and e-mail address only, can be found by writing to <>. In the body of the message write review risk

Date: Wed, 9 Oct 1996 16:40:41 -0700 (PDT)


Would Disaster Reduction Day

We invite you to join the IDNDR Secretariat in announcing your activities to a global audience. A special section will be set up on the conference web site for you to announce your IDNDR Day events.

Please check <> for simple directions on how to report your activities. The special section is already open and we have reports from Australia, China, Greece and Peru.

If you have access to e-mail but not to the Web, please send your submissions to:

Alberto Delgado <> or Victor Garro <> who will put your submissions on the Web. (Please remember that all conference organizers are working on a volunteer basis, so if you prepare your report directly on HTML format it is appreciated).

Thank you in advance for your contribution to the collective effort. We look forward to hearing from you.

Natalie Domeisen
Promotion Officer
IDNDR Secretariat
Geneva, Switzerland

Date: Wed, 9 Oct 1996 18:20:54 -0700 (PDT)


IDNDR Day 1996 Celebrations - Extracts of Press Material

1) Below is an information release by the IDNDR Secretarial. You may quote from this in whole or in part.

Natural - and Not So Natural - Disasters

Geneva, October 1996 - The irresistible movement of millions to the world's urban centres - with half of the global population of almost 6 billion in the year 2000 - has put cities and city-dwellers at risk to floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, landslides, volcanic eruptions, tidal surges and other natural disasters as never before in history.

This is the belief and the fear of natural disaster experts at the approach of Wednesday 9 October, the annual Day of Natural Disaster Reduction.

"Every year building codes are ignored and zoning regulations overlooked as communities continue to expand into areas prone to every kind of natural disaster," asserts Dr. Olavi Elo, Director of the Secretariat of the United Nations International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR).

"Already at least one-quarter of the people on earth live in high-risk areas and their number is growing rapidly."

At the turn of the century, less than four years off, 17 of the world's 20 largest cities will be found in developing countries. By the year 2025, 80% of the earth's urban areas will lie in the developing world. And this is where earthquakes, floods, landslides and the rest are most likely to occur.

"The high density of population in slums and squatter settlements in developing world cities, the use of hazardous ground, such as unstable slopes, reclaimed land, ravines and river banks, the concentration of poorly-constructed and badly -maintained buildings are a recipe for urban disaster," Dr. Elo continued.

"In an earthquake 80% of the deaths are due to collapsing buildings. Brick buildings without a concrete frame are dangerous. And wooden roofs should be strapped to their foundations so they are not blown away by hurricanes.

"The most frequent disaster nowadays is flooding. Rapid urbanization is a major factor. Flash floods are caused by the compacted earth and concrete in cities because they absorb little water. The decline of open spaces in increasingly crowded cities, and engineering works that divert river flows and weaken urban drainage systems, also provoke sudden, unexpected flooding. Clearly, 'natural' disasters are in reality often the consequence of human error."

The Finnish doctor stressed that the poor are generally the main victims of disasters. "Take the 1976 Guatemala earthquake," he says. "Almost all of the victims were living in Guatemala City in slum areas near ravines. Little wonder that that earthquake is known as the 'Poor Quake'."

Driven by unemployment, poverty, misery in rural areas, millions of people are occupying disaster-prone ground in or just outside cities. Municipal authorities are overwhelmed by their sheer numbers and unable to protect them from disasters.

"Indeed, the number of people affected by disasters has been increasing by 6% every year since I960," says the IDNDR director.

"The disasters are getting much worse, too. Before 1987 there was only one disaster that cost insurance companies one billion dollars. Since then, there have been 15. The 1995 Kobe earthquake, which killed 6,300 Japanese, caused a 100 billion dollar financial loss."

What can be done about disasters?

"Obviously, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, typhoons and tidal waves cannot be prevented," says Natalie Domeisen, an IDNDR specialist on preparedness measures and post-disaster activities and author of Cities At Risk. But a great deal can be done and is being done on every continent to reduce the loss of life and the extent of the damage in natural disasters.

"To begin with, it is essential to create risk maps of cities and surrounding areas and to take these into consideration in deciding where, what and how to build. It is also vital to make disaster preparedness plans which involve key community organizations, such as hospitals, scouts, schools, youth groups, the fire department, the churches. Early warning systems that really work efficiently are another must."

Ms. Domeisen went on: "Preparedness activities need not be costly. For example, making hospitals earthquake-resistant adds at most only 10% and often as little as 2% to construction costs. They do not have to be sophisticated either. Planting trees can shelter buildings from strong winds. Protecting terraced slopes with crops or forests near cities makes the soil more absorbent and protects cities from floods. And building codes and zoning regulations should be generalized and strictly enforced. Another effective measure is for the local authorities to offer tax incentives that divert development planners from hazard- prone areas.

"Of course, in an ideal world cities would take sensible anti-disaster measures before rather than after a disaster struck. Unfortunately, public awareness, the conviction that something can be done to mitigate the effects of disasters, and a political commitment to act usually, and paradoxically, result from a disaster. Still, better late than never."

The IDNDR expert cites several examples of successful post-disaster activities:

"During an earthquake in San Jose, Costa Rica, in 1990, a retrofitted portion of a hospital survived intact, while ceilings fell, glass broke and walls cracked in the unreinforced part of the hospital. Damage from landslides has been virtually eliminated since then. During the 1978 earthquake in Sendai petroleum tanks with corroded bottoms poured oil into the nearby bay. Within two years Japanese building codes were amended and petroleum storage tanks are now emptied and inspected for corrosion every five years. After an 1988 flood covered 40% of Sudan's capital, Khartoum, and did enormous material damage, government and city authorities, working with UN agencies and non-governmental organizations, built new river embankments, organized an early warning system and made the city's 4 million inhabitants disaster-conscious. When a flood of similar proportions occurred in 1994, there was very little damage to previously badly-hit areas."

Dr. Elo concedes that the impact of natural disasters in urban centres will not be substantially reduced overnight or even probably in the 'reduction decade' from 1990 to 2000.

"What is needed," he says, "is a change in people's attitude towards disasters. There is really no longer any reason to be fatalistic about natural disasters. For one thing, many of them, like flash floods and landslides, are our own fault and can be eliminated.

" While we cannot prevent an earthquake or a volcanic eruption or a hurricane, we can avoid the loss of many, many lives and of much, much damage and destruction through strictly-implemented legislation, widespread use of the latest anti-disaster technology, creation of early warning systems everywhere, and the involvement of citizens, their political leaders and their organizations in preparedness measures. Finally, and very important, anti-disaster preparedness must be an integral part of all urban development planning and of all environmental impact assessment."

Note to journalists: For additional information and interviews, please contact Dr. Olavi Elo, Director, IDNDR Secretarial, Geneva or Ms. Natalie Domeisen, IDNDR Secretariat, Geneva. Telephone: (41 22) 798 68 94, Fax: (41 22) 733 86 95.

Alternatively, contact Paul Ress, Media Consultant, Geneva. Telephone/Fax: (41 22) 734 98 13]

2) Here is a part of the briefing notes used for the UN press conference by Dr Olavi Elo, Director, IDNDR Secretariat, on the eve of IDNDR Day. You may also quote from this.

1. Natural Disasters - The Forgotten Majority

The end of the Cold War and the CNN Factor have combined to make us all very aware of disasters caused by conflict. With this awareness has come a shift in political and financial attention. In the 1990s, an increasing amount of money in international organizations and bilateral government agencies has been shifted from development projects to relief projects, mostly related to acute conflict situations.

In fact, the amount of money for development assistance peaked in 1992 and has been on the decline ever since. Meanwhile, the amount of humanitarian assistance as a proportion of overseas development assistance has been steadily rising, and is now at about 6%.

Where do natural disasters come into this picture? Natural disasters might best be labelled as the "Forgotten Majority." In 1995, there were 28 disasters officially classified by the UN as "complex emergencies." There were 213 major natural disasters. Last year, disasters cost at least $150 billion dollars in economic losses. The cost is up two to three times from 1994.

2. Why Focus on Disasters in Cities?

Natural disasters have always existed. But the way we develop, without taking our environment sufficiently into account, is upsetting the ecological balance and causing a rise in disasters. What's more, the number of potential victims grows each year, and the potential loss of life and damages is soaring as victims concentrate in cities.

More than 45% of the planet now lives in cities. By the year 2000, that number will be 50%. More than 90% of population growth is in the developing world, and much of it is in urban areas. These areas have the smallest share of resources and the biggest burden of natural risk. Drought, war and poverty is driving people to cities, where pressure on land increases. So the poorest people end up in poorly built housing on marginal land: steep slopes, dried up swampy areas, riverbanks, and so forth. These are danger zones. These are places people avoided earlier when settling in cities. They are now parts of the city where housing is more likely to be badly built, and people settle more densely. These are the parts in a city where phones, water services, fire services and health services are likely to be the weakest. These are the places, when disaster strikes, that will be hit the hardest. Rescuers will have the hardest time getting there. Long after the disaster is over, people in these places will be feeling the setbacks from disasters -because they are people who have so few resources to begin with.

The poor everywhere are most at risk, but natural disasters threaten everyone. An earthquake, a volcanic eruption or a violent storm can still flatten a modem city. Japan is one of the world's richest nations, and her people are generally well prepared against natural disasters. But they were not prepared in Kobe for the earthquake that struck on Jan 17, 1995, which caused at least $100 billion dollars in economic losses. And that was from a medium-sized earthquake. The damage could have been worse.

The difference between disasters in the 1990s and in the past is their SCALE. Our first billion dollar disaster didn't happen until the 1980s. Since then, we've had at least 15. A lot of this has to do with how and where we develop.

About volcanoes and earthquakes: they are concentrated at plate boundaries in the earth's crust. By the year 2000, there will be more than 100 cities with populations of more than 2 million, and half of them will be within 150 miles of a plate boundary. About one tenth of the world's population, or 500 million people, lives close to an active volcano, and 50 or so erupt each year.

Floods might well be classified an urban scourge. They are rising more rapidly than all other disasters, and are the most frequent of all types of natural disasters. The worst disaster of this century, in was a flood: the Hwang-Ho river flood in China 1931, which burst its banks and killed 3.5 million people. To take an example from a developed country, another devastating flood of this century was that of Florence in 1966, where priceless artworks were destroyed - a cultural nightmare and also one for the insurance companies.

3. Concluding Remarks

The danger of disasters can be greatly diminished through education, especially in developing countries, and in strict observance of construction and zoning rules.

The IDNDR Secretariat is about seeing that people are equipped for their own lives and futures. IDNDR is not a property. It belongs to whomever is interested in protecting assets and people. IDNDR is about local empowerment and democracy.

Date: Wed, 9 Oct 1996 16:39:50 -0700 (PDT)

World Disaster Reduction Day

Dear Fellow Participants,

Today is World Disaster Reduction Day. I would like to take this opportunity to give you some information about this conference, and various activities for the 1996 Cities at Risk campaign.

I would also appreciate your contribution. So keep reading...

1. IDNDR Internet Conference

The IDNDR Internet Conference, Solutions for Cities at Risk, is one of the most important activities of the 1996 campaign. Thanks to each of you for making this conference so stimulating and dynamic! I thought this would be a good chance to tell you about yourselves:

* There are 437 PARTICIPANTS registered by e-mail for this conference as of 9 October. There are many more looking in on the web site.

* The countries with the most participants are the US, PERU, JAPAN.

* The single organization which has encouraged the most participants to join is the Pan-American Health Organization (WHO Regional Office for the Americas). The organization which has provided the most widespread, targeted electronic promotion is the National Hazards Research and Application Center of the University of Colorado. The conference is advertised on at least 15 web sites and is now being featured by Yahoo.

* PLANNING was the topic which elicited the most discussion, and as Prof. Quarantelli indicated, there were many questions raised by "speakers" which are still unanswered. Community Participation, Disaster Management Scenarios, Telecommunications/Early Warning, and Engineering/Construction also elicited a good deal of discussion. Cost-Benefit Analysis has been an unscheduled subject that has been snaking in and out of the comments and discussions. We look forward to the upcoming topics: Universities (now underway), More on Community Participation, and Environmental Degradation and Urban Risks.

* We are being told in letters, phone calls and visits that there is a lot of bilateral networking going on, because the full contact details are usually contained with each comment. (We think this is great news!)

* You never know who will see your comments and papers: This virtual conference has been presented to live conferences in Rome, Paris, Miami and Geneva...

* See the end of this note for a breakdown of participants by countries and regions. Americas is the leading region.

What You Can Do for the World Disaster Reduction Day

* Announce your activities on the Web: On the Web site for this conference, there is a special site now open where you can put on the activities that you are doing for IDNDR Day. Please check for very simple instructions on how to report your activities. (Some countries have already done it!) If you only have e-mail, send it to me, Alberto Delgado, Victor Garro, or Helena Molin Valdés, and we'll try to get it on the web site as soon as we can. For an example what to write, see my report below.

* Contact local media, or join up with a national IDNDR committee celebrating World Disaster Reduction Day. Encourage people to join this Internet conference! There is an information release you can use in the press room on the web site. Contact us for the Spanish or French versions. The English will also appear as a separate e-mail message.

Note: Many organizations celebrate "IDNDR Day" before or after "the day" itself. The important thing is to use the 1996 global campaign as an opportunity to raise the point that cities ARE at risk and that we CAN address the issue in a positive way.

Please call us or the IDNDR Regional Office in Costa Rica if you need information in a hurry about the topic, or wish to schedule an interview for a local radio station. Many organizations around the world will continue to be organizing "IDNDR Day" events over the next few days.

2. In Geneva, IDNDR Secretariat activities

* PRESS CONFERENCE on 8 October featuring Dr. Olavi Elo, Director of the IDNDR Secretariat, was well-attended by journalists of leading wire services, national newspapers from many countries, and major radio services. We have been very busy providing interviews and statistical information! Some of this information will be available on the web site in the next few days.

We do receive many of the clippings, but have no way of knowing how many national and local newspapers are reporting on the news supplied by wire services. (Associated Press, Agence France Press, the Italian wire service ANSA, the Swiss Telegraphic Service and Reuters are among some of the agencies which filed reports.)

I would very much appreciate it if you could send me clippings of newspaper articles, or drop me a line if you hear of radio or television reports. This will be documented in the 1996 Cities at Risk Campaign Report.

* INTERNATIONAL POSTER CONTEST Exhibit at the UNITED NATIONS: If you are in Geneva in the month of October, we have organized a major exhibit at the UN featuring this year's campaign and entries in the 1996 Cities at Risk poster contest. Posters, the Cities at Risk book, and Internet conference information is available there. The exhibit is located near the annual deliberations of UNHCR and is on the daily route of UN Information tours. It also will be open during the annual UN Open House, later this month.

* Last week, the IDNDR Secretariat organized a workshop for a major relief conference, WorldAid, called: Ethics: a Case for Humanitarian Prevention. We will make information from that conference available shortly.

Mostly, we have been working here behind the scenes to support all of you: shipping information materials in response to requests from around the world, drafting information statements for various conferences, mounting this Internet conference, answering phone inquiries, etc.

We hope this work has helped those of you organizing events in your own countries.

3. Here's the country breakdown by region:


Andorra, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, UK

Middle East



Ethiopia, Liberia, Mauritius, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Zimbabwe


China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Philippines, South Korea, Thailand


Australia, New Zealand


Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Peru, Nicaragua, St. Lucia, US, Venezuela

Regional/intl. Organizations (Examples)
Asian Development Bank, Asian Disaster Preparedness Center, Organization of American States, World Food Programme, UNICEF, International City Management Association, International Union of Local Authorities office in Ecuador, INMARSAT, Pan- American Health Organization, World Health Organization, UNESCO, World Meteorological Organization

Examples of City Participation

Municipality of Nijmegen (the Netherlands), Municipality of Quito (Ecuador), Municipality of Port Elizabeth (South Africa), Municipality of Kobe, UNICEF Manila, UNICEF Freetown

Universities and Research Institutes

About 100 universities or research institutes from every world region are connected. The disciplines vary: urban planning, geography, earthquake engineering, environmental issues, etc. (Academic institutes in the Middle East have been trying to connect, unsuccessfully)


Other participants include state and national governments, consultants, and development agencies.

For the latest list of names and e-mail addresses registered to this conference, write to In the body of the message write review risk


Please use the following address:


This commercial e-mail account has been generously donated to the IDNDR Internet Conference by Iprolink, a Swiss business providing Internet service. Internet ProLink PC User

Date: Wed, 16 Oct 1996 10:44:04 -0700 (PDT)

Announcement from IDNDR Secretariat and UNESCO

The impact of natural disasters is on the rise. Social and economic development will be eroded if countries do not make disaster reduction part of their development planning. Humanitarian assistance will be ineffective if it is no linked to development. The application of the results of the scientific research through education and training has an important role in disaster reduction.

In order to strengthen concerted action for natural disaster reduction, the IDNDR Secretariat and UNESCO have initiated a project called "DEVELOPMENT OF INSTITUTIONAL NETWORKS FOR DISASTER REDUCTION".

The project will set the stage for dialogue and action to foster and strengthen collaboration among universities and scientific institutions and facilitate collaboration with existing networks in disaster preparedness, prevention and mitigation.

As the first step towards strengthening such networks, an inventory of capacities in the universities and scientific institutions is being initiated through a questionnaire. Following the inventory, on a regional basis, the intention is to promote exchange of information, collaboration and the establishment of mechanisms for supporting the appropriate research, training and application of disaster reduction at the local level.

The IDNDR Secretariat would like to invite all interested universities and scientific institutions to participate in this project. In order to receive the questionnaire, please contact:

Christine V. Schneider
IDNDR Secretariat
Palais des Nations
1211 Geneva 10
Tel. (4122) 798 6894
<christine.schneider@dha. unicc. org>

Date: Thu, 17 Oct 1996 05:31:13 -0700 (PDT)

United Nations Press Release

SG/SM/96/226 - 9 October 1996


Following is the text of a statement issued today by Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali.

I welcome the celebration today of International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction, whose theme for 1996 is "Cities at Risk".

Natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes can be particularly devastating in urban environments, where problems of infrastructure and environmental safety are common.

With some 45 per cent of the world's unprecedented number of people are at risk. But urban dwellers can take action to protect themselves.

The "Cities at Risk" campaign, which complements follow-up activities for the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II), focuses on the development and implementation of policy guidelines for safer cities.

I urge governments, local authorities and citizens to vigorously pursue actions and activities to enhance their ability to prevent and mitigate the consequences of natural disasters.

In this way, as partners, we can make a valuable contribution to the realization of our common goal: safe, prosperous and healthy cities.

Date: Thu, 24 Oct 1996 19:09:01 -0700 (PDT)

Project Announcement by the IDNDR Secretariat on Disaster Reduction for Sustainable Development

A project proposed by the Secretariat for the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR)

Sustainable development cannot take place without addressing the risks of natural disasters. The extent to which a hazard as a cyclone, flood or earthquake affects society depends on the vulnerability of that society. Disasters are extreme environmental conditions that affect vulnerable people or communities. Their impacts often have long lasting implications for the development process. Yet disaster reduction is in many cases separate from the day-to-day development process. Disaster managers operate in isolation, and are expected to solve the disaster problems of society without being fully involved in the planing of activities that may aggravate hazards or increase the vulnerability of population groups. Development planners often do not consider disaster risks as part of their planning. Disasters are seen as external disturbances of the development process and not as one of the risks to be taken into consideration in shaping the development process.

The proposed IDNDR project supports the inclusion of disaster management and disaster reduction policies into Sustainable development efforts. It will work through a bottom-up approach, in which pilot projects and studies form the basic material for influencing policies at the local, national and international levels. The pilot studies and projects are not carried out in isolation, but are closely linked to existing local and national initiatives in disaster reduction. The project provides instruments and formulates policies that can make the development process more sustainable. A sustainable form of development that will reduce the vulnerability of society towards the impact of hazards, and increase the capacities of communities and individuals to address disaster risks.

The project addresses three thematic areas: urban vulnerability reduction, disaster reduction in small island States; and development planning and projects. In these three thematic areas the Secretariat aims to provide a significant input into efforts to integrate disaster considerations into sustainable development practices. All three are firmly linked to internationally agreed policies and specifically calls up on the international community. The urban component addresses an increasing disaster risk, that of poor urban communities living in hazard prone areas. The small islands component addresses national vulnerability to disasters and provides a bridge toward recognition of disaster reduction as a cross-sectoral sustainable development issue in international policies. The planning and project design theme addresses the need for systematic methodologies to consider disaster risks in development planning and project implementation.

The cornerstone of the project is a series of pilot activities. These aim to reduce risks in selected areas and provide lessons learned and experiences in a number of key areas of disaster reduction. To make these experiences accessible to a wider community, a programme of international cooperation and exchange is set up. In addition, a thematic policy research programme is included in the programme. Cooperation is a key ingredient in the implementation of the pilot projects and thematic research. The identification of detailed work programmes for the pilot activities will be done in close consultation with a range of key partners who are active in disaster reduction programmes.

The project intends to make full use of the cooperation opportunities and inputs of the IDNDR Framework. It will draw on many specialists to contribute to the implementation of pilot activities and exchange programmes. The project plays a facilitating role in making concrete disaster reduction experiences accessible to an international audience, and by carrying out additional pilot activities. Its duration is three years, with a first phase of 1.5 years. The estimated budget for phase one is US$ 1.7 million. This covers expenditures for project management, pilot activities, exchange programmes and additional expert inputs. These expenditures are divided over the thematic areas as follows: urban vulnerability reduction (34%), activities for small island States (34%), development planning (20%), thematic research (12%). The programme management component of each of these amounts to 17%.

The project proposal has been forwarded to a wide range of IDNDR collaborating partners and potential funding partners. The first response is encouraging and the IDNDR Secretariat hopes to raise the necessary funds to start the implementation of the project in early 1997. The Secretariat invites comments and suggestions on the proposed activities, as well as expressions of interest in collaborating with the programme. For further information please contact the IDNDR Secretariat, attention Dr. Olavi Elo, (cc: L. Vrolijks, F. Pisano, E. Palm) reference Risk-Events announcement on disaster reduction and sustainable development.

Dr. Olavi Elo
IDNDR Secretariat
Geneva, Switzerland

Date: Sun, 27 Oct 1996 20:40:01 -0800 (PST)

What next? Message from the Organizers

Friends, Colleagues, Fellow Participants:

Today we come to the official ending date of the IDNDR Internet Conference: Solutions for Cities at Risk. Thanks to the collective effort of so many organizations and individuals, this conference was stimulating, dynamic and successful.

Summary Profile

Total Number of Registered Participants by E-Mail: 465 (approx)

Total Number of Countries (25 October): 56 (approx)

Types of Organizations: Universities, research institutes, governments (city, region, country), international organizations (and country offices), banks, insurance companies, private consultants, national and international associations, non-governmental organizations

Professional disciplines: Geography, health, environment, economics, urban planning, construction, media, education, meteorology, civil protection, police and fire departments,

Countries with Most Participants: Japan, Peru, United States

Most Active Region: Americas

(More details will be given in the conference proceedings, including the number of those who accessed the Web site)

Who Are You? Send Us Your Registration Forms

When you register to this conference, all we have is your e-mail account and name. For this reason, we included a registration form in our welcome message to you. About one-third of you have sent the forms back. Please take a moment and fax or e-mail us your form. If you have lost the form, simply send us your name, title, name of organization, address, phone, fax, e-mail and topics of interest.

We need these forms to:

- Send you the IDNDR Cities at Risk book and poster

- Include your contact information in the conference list of participants

- Make a correct analysis of the number and type of conference participants

- Send you an Internet Conference Proceedings book Fax: 41 22 733 8695 E-mail:

What's next? Conclusions and Evaluation Phase, Nov-dec 1 996

This e-mail list will remain open and unmoderated through the end of 1996.

It will cover the following subjects

1. Evaluation and Future Activities

An evaluation form will be posted next Tuesday for you to give us feedback on this conference, advise us on the proceedings, and give your views on future Internet events.

2. Additional Discussion Comments

On Monday, the summary of Week 9 will appear. You may also continue to contribute your discussion comments.

Next week a brief note will appear giving you advice on how to do that.

3. Conference and Project Announcements

You may wish to submit results of recent conferences, or tell participants about your own upcoming projects. Next week a brief note will appear with advice on how to do that as well.


4. Summaries from Moderators

Moderators will have the opportunity to provide additional final summaries of discussions on their topics.


I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank the volunteers who made this conference a success. Thanks go to many. This conference, however, would not have been possible without the support of Alberto Delgado and Jose Sato of QUIPUNET, and Gerard Eisman of San Francisco State University.

1. Our co-organizers at QUIPUNET

QUIPUNET, an NGO of Peruvian volunteers (mostly living abroad) is dedicated to education and information exchange via the Internet.

Very special thanks to the efficient, fast and cool co-management by ALBERTO DELGADO, Vice-President of QUIPUNET and Co-Organizer of this conference, should stand for a cybernetic bow and applause! Many thanks also to JOSE SATO, who coordinated Spanish translation and provided a lot of organizational and technical advice on many fronts. Thanks to the volunteer translators around the world. Thanks also to the whole technical team at QUIPUNET (including Herbert Luna, Jorge Zavaleta, Luis Lira and about ten others), who provided technical support to post discussion programmes, papers, and comments both by e-mail and on the web, in English and often in Spanish.

2. Behind-the-scenes Contributors

Thanks to Gerard Eisman, Stan Osborne, Rob Johnston, San Francisco State University, who arranged for the computer services hosting this conference;

Victor Garro, of PAHO in Costa Rica, who provided technical support to the e-mail conference and designed the Participants List on the Web; David Butler of the Natural Hazards Research Center, who has provided a stream of advice and promotion; Peter Anderson, Simon Fraser University, for development of IDNDR icons for Web Page use and coordination of the related IDNDR website; IDNDR staff, who provided administrative and organizational assistance; Taisei Corporation for excellent Internet facilities and technical support; and IPROLINK commercial services of Switzerland, which donated a commercial account as additional technical backup.

3. Our moderators

Kevin Lyonette, WWF Sustainable Development Services, Switzerland; Mustafa Erdik, Kandilli Observatory, Turkey; Ben Wisner, University of California at Long Beach, USA; Eugene Staffa, INMARSAT, UK; Enrico Quarantelli, University of Delaware, USA; David Butler, University of Colorado at Boulder, USA; Helena Molin Valdés, IDNDR Regional Office for the Americas, Costa Rica

4. Advisory Board

(about 30 from around the world), Organizations/individuals who helped spread the word about the conference, contributed valuable discussion comments, and occasionally behind-the-scenes advice.

5. Participants

Thanks finally to all of you who have participated with your constructive and open comments. The spirit of exchange and respect between participants has been enriching, and provided us with many new contacts and ideas for the future, to make communities everywhere safer and more aware of how to manage risks.

Yet Other Countries Represented at the Conference