The third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) will be held in Sendai City over the five-day period from Mary 14 to 18, 2015, when more than 5,000 people in related fields–including heads of state, cabinet ministers, government officials, representatives of international organizations and NGOs from a total of 193 UN member states–will gather to discuss a new global action framework for disaster risk reduction. With less than a year to go till the opening of an international conference on a scale unprecedented in the city, Sendai has launched “Preparatory Office for the UN WCDRR” in order to get ready, seeing it as a perfect opportunity to show the world the progress of the reconstruction efforts initiated in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake, as well as the high levels of disaster preparedness technique.
Sharing the experiences and lessons gained from the Great East Japan Earthquake
The first and second UN WCDRR events were held in Japan (Yokohama in 1994 and Kobe in 2005). The last conference yielded successful outcomes, including the formulation of the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA), which outlines international guidelines for action to reduce disaster riskswithin the time frame of 2005 to 2015. The plenary meeting of the UN General Assembly, held on December 21, 2013, selected Sendai as the venue for the third WCDRR. The fact that Japan was chosen for the third straight time shows the high recognition that the country receives for its accumulated know-how in disaster management, such know-how being obtained on the basis of various disasters.
The main purpose of this conference is to formulate international strategies for disaster risk reduction for the next generation that will spearhead the HFA. At the same time it seeks to contribute to the development of a global culture of disaster preparedness by sharing the experiences and lessons gained from the Great East Japan Earthquake and the current status of recovery, and to express gratitude for the aid and support that so many countries offered in the aftermath ofthe disaster.
Related projects also to be carried out in the disaster-stricken prefectures
One characteristic of the UN WCDRR in Sendai is the collaboration that occurs among local governments, universities, businesses, NPOs, NGOs and other organizations in the Tohoku region. In October 2013 a local preparatory organization, “Promotion Council for the third UN WCDRR in Sendai,” was established as a cooperative effort between the public and private sectors, which disseminates information on the recovery status and disaster preparedness efforts in Sendai and the Tohoku region from its own dedicated website. During the conference, various related projects are scheduled to take place in Sendai and the four prefectures in Tohoku affected by the disaster (Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima), including public events, a welcome reception, official visits to affected areas and press tours.
High level of interest among construction businesses and industry groups
In order to reignite the awareness of disaster preparedness among citizens and publicize the progress of reconstruction efforts and disaster readiness activities across the nation, more than 100 symposiums and seminars will be held at public facilities in Sendai and multiple sites in Tohoku under suchdistinctive themes as “Experiences and lessons gained from the earthquake disaster,” “Disaster risk reduction and civil activities” and “Women and disaster risk reduction.”
Additionally, there will be an exhibitionregarding disaster risk reduction and reconstructionefforts with the participation of various countries, international organizations and governments of the affected areas as well as the Disaster Prevention Industry Trade Show through collaboration with Miyagi Prefecture and the private sector.
Because disaster preparedness techniques are directly linked to civil engineering, construction and urban development, construction businesses, plant manufacturers, energy-related businesses, industry groups and academic societies have high expectations for the conference. The number of inquiries made to “Sendai City Preparatory Office for the UN WCDRR” is also on the increase.
Showcasing reconstruction through hospitality
Starting with the reception, various other welcome events are planned. Through these events, reconstruction of the regioncan be showcased by providing menus that incorporate ingredients produced in Tohoku and promoting local tourism, which will play a significant role in eliminating the harmful rumors associated with the region and increasing the number of tourists. In order for this to happen, it is necessary to elicit interest not just among “some” people or the industries involved in the events but among all citizens. It is essential that a welcoming mood be fostered throughout the population. Indeed, high hopes are placed on the success of the third UN WCDRR as an opportunity to show the world, through hospitality, how far the region has come with its reconstruction efforts.