|UN-IDNDR and QUIPUNET Internet Conference - Solutions for Cities at Risk - International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR)|
Solutions for Cities al Risk, an Internet conference, was organized by the Secretariat of the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR) as one of the first exercises of this kind in the United Nations. It brought together almost 500 participants from almost 60 countries for a period of two months in 1996. Nine different subjects were discussed on the topic of "Solutions for Cities at Risk", with inputs from all continents and different disciplines.
The creation and successful usage of this innovative communications tool, virtual Internet conferencing, represents a major achievement in the realization of the objectives of IDNDR, particularly in the promotion of greater awareness of the need for disaster reduction and exchange of information and technology transfer.
Through virtual conferencing, information exchange and discussion are enabled al all levels, whether local, national, regional or international, at very little cost. As long as participants have the necessary equipment for access to electronic mail or to the Internet, many of the reasons that often prevent people from travelling to a given meeting are brushed aside. Expertise and opinions on a focused subject may therefore be shared with the broadest possible audience. This allows for maximized networking opportunities, and or information to be circulated where it would not necessarily go otherwise.
Not only was "Solutions for Cities at Risk" a way to send expertise out to the conference participants; it was also a means to collect valuable inputs for future policies and programs. The effort was therefore truly interactive, as you will see from the many comments that were sent in as reactions to the conference presentations.
We have also learned that many participants have started to network or communicate directly as a result of the conference. Virtual Internet conferencing is becoming an important tool in the efforts of the Secretariat, as shown by the second IDNDR Internet conference, on the theme of water-related disasters, that took place in September and October 19')7.
The structures put in place will remain. Not only that: they will he expanded during the closing phase of IDNDR and beyond. In this way, we hope to help build a bridge into efficient disaster reduction measures in the 21 st century.