Japan's International Cooperation in Disaster Reduction

Importance of Implementing and Following Up on the Outcomes of the UN World Conference on Disaster Reduction

The significance of the WCDR depends on whether member states, international organizations, and other relevant stakeholders will take concrete action based on the Framework for Action, the outcome document of this conference, to substantially reduce worldwide disaster damage, and whether measures are taken to follow up on conference outcomes.

To ensure the promotion of disaster-resilient nations and communities all over the world, Japan will make full use of the extensive disaster-related knowledge and technologies it has cultivated to actively contribute to the promotion of international cooperation on disaster reduction efforts.

Initiative for Disaster Reduction through Official Development Assistance (ODA)

As a major provider of ODA, Japan is actively working to support development activities, including in the field of disaster reduction, worldwide. Our efforts in the Republic of Maldives, for example, have already proven effective, as offshore breakwaters and coastal embankments constructed using our grant aid helped minimize damage caused by the Indian Ocean tsunami.

Japan will launch the "Initiative for Disaster Reduction through ODA" to ensure the inclusion of disaster reduction perspectives in the provision of development assistance. Based on this initiative, Japan will actively, through ODA, promote disaster reduction cooperation to support self-help efforts and human resources development in developing countries.

Strengthening Regional Cooperation in Disaster Reduction through the Asian Disaster Reduction Center (ADRC)

As has been made clear by the recent earthquake and tsunami disaster, mitigating disaster risk requires close cooperation within the region with similar climatic, topographical, and geographical conditions. To strengthen ties between the countries of Asia, one of the world's most disaster-prone regions, Japan, as a fellow Asian partner, will work to promote cooperation on disaster reduction efforts through the ADRC in Kobe, and will disseminate its findings worldwide.

Acting upon the lessons learned from the 1998 Aitape earthquake and tsunami disaster in Papua New Guinea, the ADRC created easy-to-understand pamphlets for the local residents and distributed these pamphlets to raise their awareness of disaster preparedness issues. As a result, no lives were lost in the tsunami that followed the magnitude 8 earthquake that struck that country in 2000. Japan will continue to support efforts to implement the outcomes of the WCDR in Asia through these kinds of cooperative disaster reduction programs.

Promoting Partnership Projects at the International Level

1. Promoting the development of disaster-resilient nations and communities in the disaster recovery process

We have to approach the disaster recovery process in the affected areas by examining vulnerabilities and developing plans with a view toward being prepared for future disasters. If these efforts are neglected and disaster reduction continues to be kept separate from development and reconstruction planning, it will be impossible to break the vicious cycle of disaster and poverty, thus making it very difficult to achieve sustainable development.

Given this, Japan recognizes the need for the development of an international cooperative platform, with appropriate UN engagement, for comprehensively promoting the development of disaster-resilient nations and communities in the disaster recovery process through collaborations and partnerships between various stakeholders.

Japan will actively put to use the lessons and expertise it has gained in the process of recovering from numerous disasters, including the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, and will use the city of Kobe in Hyogo Prefecture as its base for working with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and the Asian Disaster Reduction Center (ADRC) on promoting these kinds of international recovery support activities.

2. Promoting the International Flood Network (IFNet)

To mitigate frequent flooding disasters worldwide, Japan is promoting the activities of the International Flood Network (IFNet), a program launched following the 3rd World Water Forum hosted by Japan almost two years ago, and will share information on flood control policies through cooperation with organizations within each member country and with international organizations such as the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

3. Establishing an international center for water hazards and risk management

Efforts will be made to obtain approval at this year's autumn UNESCO General Conference for the establishment of the International Center for Water Hazard and Risk Management (tentative name) in Japan. This center will conduct research, training, and information networking activities on water-related hazards and their risk management under the auspices of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

4. Promoting disaster measures at the Earth Observation Summit

With regard to the Earth Observation Summit proposed by Japan at the Group of Eight (G8) Summit two years ago, Japan will make contributions to enable the detection of abnormal weather and the prompt and accurate ascertainment of disaster situations, through the sharing of satellite data, etc.

Creating Portfolios for Disaster Reduction

Japan proposes, as a concrete measure for following up on the outcomes of the WCDR, the establishment of a framework for sharing information in the form of Portfolios for Disaster Reduction at the United Nations.

Japan believes that it would be effective to share the following kinds of information:

1. Portfolio of Disaster Reduction Actions

These will introduce the primary disaster reduction activities undertaken by the Member States and international organizations based on the Framework for Action so that progress made on the implementation of the outcomes of the WCDR can be shared by the international community.

2. Gallery of Best Practices and Lessons Learned from Disaster Reduction

This will introduce the best practices and lessons learned in disaster reduction activities undertaken around the world thus far, and will serve as reference material for the implementation of the Framework for Action in each country. Disaster reduction efforts worldwide are expected to be advanced through the sharing of know-how and past lessons that have been shown to have a substantial effect on reducing disaster damage.

3. Catalog of Technologies for Disaster Reduction

This is designed to enable the international community to share information on existing technologies that have been useful in mitigating disasters as well as on technologies that require further research and development. It will make it possible for low-cost, easy-to-implement technologies to be widely implemented and have a significant disaster mitigating effect.

The Portfolios for Disaster Reduction will be meaningful as long as the relevant parties, including the Member States, voluntarily cooperate by providing their information and keeping that information updated.

Enhancing Cooperation for Disaster Reduction at the United Nations - Effective Follow-up on the Outcomes of the WCDR

It is essential to establish an international framework for effectively following up on the implementation of the Framework for Action.

In that process, we should make full use of the capabilities of the existing United Nations organizations. In light of the importance of enhancing cooperation and coordination amongst them, efforts should be taken to eliminate any redundancy in their activities.

To ensure efficient and effective follow-up efforts by the United Nations, Japan will continue to provide support for the activities of the ISDR Secretariat.

Japan expects to see progress made in the discussions on water disasters by the United Nations Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation established on the initiative of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

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