3rd ECO Expert Group Meeting on Disaster Risk Reduction organized virtually by AFAD -Turkey and ECO, ECOSF attended as an Invited Speaker

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3rd ECO Expert Group Meeting on Disaster Risk Reduction was jointly organized virtually by Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD), Republic of Turkey and ECO Secretariat on 9-10 March 2021. The meeting was attended by the experts, scientists, from ECO countries working in the field of earthquake and disaster management.

The meeting was opened by Mr. Hamza Tasdelen, Acting President of AFAD. In his opening remarks, he welcomed the distinguished guests and hoped that two day meeting would bring some concrete proposal to mitigate the disaster risk posing threats to ECO region.

During the technical sessions, the renowned experts such as Mr. Nihan Karacameydan, Head of Working Group, Department of Information Systems and Communication, AFAD;  Dr. Mostafa Mohaghegh, SeniorCoordinator, Asian and Pacific Centre for the Development of Disaster Information Management (APDIM), Mr. Sinan Demir, Head of Working Group, Department of Planning and Risk Mitigation, AFAD; Mr. Fatih Kiliç, Geophysics Engineer, Ministry of Environment and Urbanization; Mr. Hans Guttman, Executive Director, Asian Disaster Preparedness Center; Mr. Andrew Bower, ProgrammeOfficer, United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction; Mr. Mehmet Akif Alkan, Head of Working Group, Department of Planning and Risk Mitigation, AFAD and others discussed following important topics/themes:

  • Innovation in Disaster Management (New Technologies and Approaches)
  • Local Level Strategies and Risk Management Approaches
  • Importance of Training in Disaster Risk Management

Prof. Manzoor Soomro, President ECOSF in his talk said that Climate Change is a serious global threat and poses complex challenges for sustainable development for our future generations. Melting of glaciers, sea level rise, intense heat waves and increase in global temperatures are clear and visible signs of climate change. These extreme events increase the frequency and probability of disasters. He added that ECO region is also one of the most disaster-prone regions in the world and is exposed to various types of natural hazards and disasters, resultantly, ECO region has incurred losses on an average of a staggering more than 2 billion US dollars due to natural disasters. Therefore, disaster risk management and mitigation are vital component to climate change adaption measures in the ECO region. He further added that education, especially the science education including the science of disasters, must play an essential role in preparing the present and future generations to understand climate change and to be adequately prepared to adapt to and mitigate its impacts. By raising awareness, promoting knowledge and skills-development, science education is an essential component and a catalyst for responding to global climate change.

Prof. Soomro further said that a few countries have already undertaken possible measures to include a number of aspects of climate change in school curricula and in their respective national development agendas. For instance, the La main à la pâte (LAMAP) Foundation of France, a strategic partner of the ECOSF based in Paris with a primary intent to improve the quality of teaching of science through inquiry-based approach at schools, has included climate change education. LAMAP recently launched the Office of Climate Education (OCE) in Paris which has a mission to integrate climate change education at school level. This could be potential model for the ECO region as well. Prof. Soomro emphasized that using this platform, we must to identify the most important, most suitable, and innovative Disaster Risk Reduction tools that can contribute to reducing disaster risks and preparing for future disasters in the ECO Region. He named a few technological innovations, such as Geographic Information System (GIS) and remote sensing, drones, social networking service, doppler radar,  information and communications technology (ICT) and disaster resilient materials which are extremely effective and have already contributed to reducing disaster risks worldwide.

In the end, he shared following key actions for Climate Change Education:

  • Ensure effective learning and deep understanding of the subject matter, climate change education should be integrated across school curricula
  • Promote climate change education, it is crucial to strengthen teachers’ and educators’ capacities to deliver accurate information, promote critical thinking about and take action on climate change mitigation and adaptation
  • Governments and concerned stakeholders to develop lifelong training programmes for teachers who must have the necessary skills with which to deliver education on sustainable development and climate change.
  • Develop and showcase effective national climate change education programmes
  • Strengthen partnerships and opportunities for scaling up climate change education around the globe
  • Identify innovative ways of scaling up and engaging all stakeholders
  • Solicit commitments from policy makers and the education community

President ECOSF was appreciated for his comprehensive talk and suggestions to tackle the disaster risk management on a long term basis.

It is pertinent to mention that this expert meeting was an exercise of preparation for the 8th Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) to be held on 17 March 2021.

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