UNITAR's activities in Resilience and Disaster Risk Reduction

“There is a very real possibility that disaster risk, fuelled by climate change, will reach a tipping point beyond which the effort and resources necessary to reduce it will exceed the capacity of future generations.” Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Between 2005 and 2015, over 700 thousand lost their lives, over 1.4 million have been injured and approximately 23 million have been made homeless because of disasters. Overall, the lives of more than 1.5 billion were disrupted by disasters, with women, children and people in vulnerable situations taking the highest toll. Beyond their vulnerability to natural disasters, vast areas around the world are exposed to a complex interconnection of other risks caused by changing climate patterns, political and social instability and the unequal impact of globalization.

Governments have the primary accountability to prevent and mitigate the impact of disasters and to empower their citizens to withstand environmental, political, economic and social shocks. Many Governments have very sophisticated systems for disaster risk reduction and resilience building, and they share their knowledge and technologies with the most vulnerable countries. The international community is there to ensure that competencies and technologies for disaster risk reduction and resilience are continuously shared with and absorbed by the most vulnerable Governments, civil societies and communities.

In response to the growing demand for knowledge and capacity necessary to safeguard those who are most vulnerable, UNITAR continuously develops research and trainings to support UN Member States in their quest for safety.

The UNITAR Resilience and Diaster Risk Reduction activity area (R3) combines knowledge and experience of several UNITAR Programmes in supporting governments and local authorities in their respective substantive areas:

  • the Decentralised Cooperation Programme (DCP) reaches out to national and local authorities with specialised training, including on DRR, through 12 different centres, called CIFAL centres, to connect people and enhance national and local governance;

  • the Operational Satellite Application Programme (UNOSAT) works promote the use of geographic information technologies (GIT) in disaster prone regions, through hands-on training in GIS and satellite imagery analysis and through the delivery of satellite maps and analysis for the protection of human rights, cultural heritage, more efficient emergency operations and data-driven development planning;

  • the Climate Change Programme (CCP) conducts trainings and facilitates knowledge-sharing among UN organisations and national actors to strengthen capacities to adapt to climate change and build more resilient communities.

Current Activities

The Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience Learning Hub

The HUBUNITAR is scaling up its work in support of resilience and disaster risk reduction programmes in high-risk, low resource countries. UNITAR is partnering with key technical UN agencies, centres of excellence and foundations to design the most cost-effective, innovative learning solutions and to promote DRR and resilience globally and locally. At a global level, the Hub produces, maintains, and promotes learning solutions targeting national authorities. In countries where DRR, resilience investments and national ownership are high, UNITAR facilitates the development of learning strategies to accompany resilience capacity development. The Learning Hub and its national adaptations (national learning Hubs) promote learning through a range of innovative solutions based on the latest knowledge management methodologies, including strategic networking between knowledge brokers and knowledge “demanders”. The overall objective of the National Hubs is to strengthen the DRR and Resilience knowledge transfer capacity to national academic and training institutions.

For more information, contact Beatrice Progida, Special Advisor, Knowledge Management for Disaster Risk Reduction: beatrice.progida< at >unitar.org

Capacity Development on Geographic Information Technologies (GIT) for DRR, Early Warning and Development

UNITAR, through its UNOSAT Programme, strengthens the capacities and technical skills of individuals and professionals from National governments, Regional and international organizations, UN agencies and Academia on Geospatial Information Technology (GIT) applications for DRR covering Emergency Response, Multi Hazard Risk Assessment, Flood and Drought Management, Water Resource Management & Environmental Monitoring.

UNOSAT has been working with ICPAC, IGAD’s Climate Prediction and Applications Centre, for the use of GIS in climate forecasting. Watch a short video here on the IGAD/ICPAC Project. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15JqCL2oQlE

UNOSAT has also been supporting the Government of Chad through mapping of surface and underground water resources and capacity development in the use of geospatial technologies in water resource management. This allowed national authorities to plan

for an informed use of water resources and implement early warning systems to protect populations and crops from floods.

The next step of UNOSAT’s commitment in Chad and the Lake Chad Region is to expand capacity development in the use of GIS for flood forecasting, in support of flood early systems. Watch a short video here on UNOSAT’s programme in Chad: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvob4-9r6QM

Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030

The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 was adopted by 187 UN Member States on 18 March in Sendai, Japan. The Framework is the result of a long process of consultations with a wide variety of stakeholders, and builds on ten years of work in implementing its predecessor, the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA).

The Framework contains many important innovations and recognizes the role of training in developing capacities to better analyse, prevent and reduce disaster risks. It calls on the UN system to ensure the provision of education and training to support the implementation of the framework and enhance the understanding of risk and its components. UNITAR is partnering with specialized UN agencies and other organizations to offer training packages in support of countries and national and local actors who are in charge of implementing the newly adopted Framework.

Do you want to know more about the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030? Read its full text: http://www.unisdr.org/we/coordinate/sendai-framework

Training support for the Global Framework for Climate Services

UNITAR has teamed up with the World Meteorological Organization to support the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS) with training and awareness raising tools. The importance of training in enabling countries to benefit from integrated climate services has been recognized by many delegations at the 4th World Meteorological Congress held in Geneva in May 2015.

A first tangible result of the partnership is the online tutorial on GFCS, which illustrates the rationale and benefits of climate services: the e-tutorial is available for free to all audiences willing to learn more about the Framework and the benefits of climate services in 5 easy modules combining videos, reference materials and interactive sessions. The e-Tutorial is already available in English and we are seeking support to translate the tool in other languages.

To read more about UNITAR’s work with GFCS, and to access the tutorial, please visit our dedicated page on the Global Framework for Climate Services.

Training at the Local Level

UNITAR’s Decentralized Cooperation Programme is strengthening the capacities of local authorities in Latin America and around the world to reduce disaster risks and enhance local resilience. The DRR training workshops provide knowledge to increase cities and local governments’ understanding of DRR concepts and approaches; they also facilitate exchange of leading practices and experiences to better manage disasters, and promote collaboration among different stakeholders to develop effective disaster response and preparedness strategies.

Read more about our DRR activities at local level