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15.10.2003 – 15:40


International Conference Calls Upon International, National and Local Leaders to Integrate Early Warning of Disasters into Policies

    Bonn (ots)

Ministers, mayors and meteorologists - these and other experts from a range of sectors are participating in the Second International Conference on Early Warning (EWC-II), to be held 16-18 October in Bonn. Almost 400 participants are registered for the Conference, which is expected to result in concrete outcomes including the establishment of an international early warning programme as well as a checklist for decision makers on how to integrate early warning into disaster risk reduction strategies and policies.

    Co-opened by German Federal Minister of Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety Mr. Jürgen Trittin and UN Under- Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mr. Jan Egeland, the EWC- II has attracted high level participants including Mr. Klaus Töpfer, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, Mr. Michel Jarraud, Deputy Secretary-General and Secretary-General elect of the World Meteorological Organization as well as Ministers from 10 countries. All are committed to strengthening the global early warning dialogue towards the ultimate goal of protecting people's lives and livelihoods.

    "The commitment of policy makers is essential for achieving an effective early warning system. By accepting political responsibility to promote integrated early warning strategies, governments take a crucial step towards protecting the interests of communities against a possible disaster," said Mr. Egeland. "As a key element of any disaster reduction strategy, early warning will bring us closer to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals."

    Specifically targeted at decision makers, the Conference will focus on the challenge of incorporating early warning as an essential element when addressing disaster reduction, contributing to the long- term goals of sustainable development. While the basic principles of early warning (and disaster risk reduction) are broadly accepted worldwide, often there exists a discrepancy between what politicians may tell their public and what they actually do to reduce the negative impacts of disasters.

    "Everybody knows how difficult it will be to transform our "reactive culture" into a "culture of prevention"," said Mr. Joschka Fischer, German Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs. "It will require great powers of persuasion to mobilize the political and economic support for measures designed to prevent eventualities that will hopefully never arise. Disaster reduction is the topic of the century awaiting discovery."

    The EWC-II opens on Thursday 16 October and concludes on Saturday 18 October, when a second press conference will be held following the closing ceremony to present the EWC-II outcomes. Also during the Conference will be the ceremony of the 2003 UN Sasakawa Award for Disaster Reduction, to be held at 18:00 on 16 October at the Kunstmuseum, Bonn presented by Mr. Egeland.

    For updates and further information, please refer to:

ots Originaltext: DKKV

Nicole Rencoret
Tel.      +49/1623/521803
E-Mail: (English/French/Spanish)

Birgit zum Kley-Fiquet
Tel.      +49/228/24'34'826
E-Mail: (German/French/English))

Winfried Glass
Tel.      +49/2225'708'9808 (German)