UNESCO-United Nations Educational, Scientific and
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UNESCO is the United Nations’ specialized agency for education, science and culture. Since its creation in 1945, the Organization has worked to promote knowledge and education worldwide. Its close links with professional and academic communities and other partners in 193 countries put it in a key position to press for action.
UNESCO works to create the conditions for dialogue among civilizations, cultures and peoples, based upon respect for commonly shared values. It is through this dialogue that the world can achieve global visions of sustainable development, encompassing observance of human rights, mutual respect and the alleviation of poverty, all of which are at the heart of UNESCO’S mission and activities.
UNESCO’s mission is to contribute to the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information.
Disaster Reduction Goal
UNESCO supports Member States to reduce vulnerability to natural hazards and strengthen their capacity to cope with disasters by: providing expertise in the areas of establishing early warning systems; building capacity within line Ministries to ensure systems are prepared and able to respond; and network establishment / strengthening in DRR work.
Policies and Programmes in DRR
In its 34th session, the General Conference of UNESCO included contributing to disaster mitigation and preparedness among the fourteen Strategic Programme Objectives in the Organization’s Medium Term Strategy for 2008-2013. Since 2008 the biennial programmes of UNESCO contain a specific main line of actions on DRR.
UNESCO provides intergovernmental coordination, advice to governments and policy support for the establishment and operation of monitoring networks and early warning and risk mitigation systems for natural hazards, with particular emphasis on earthquakes, tsunamis, coastal hazards, floods and landslides.
It also promotes joint multi-stakeholder strategies for enhancing disaster education and awareness as an intrinsic element of the United Nations Decade on Education for Sustainable Development (UN DESD) led by UNESCO, especially in communities at risk located in Africa, LDCs and SIDS.
Integrated approaches and synergies between the natural sciences, the social sciences, culture, education and information systems lay the basis for interdisciplinary platforms to manage disaster risks.
Highlights of impact since 2011
View 2011 UNESCO DRR profile
UNESCO plays a major role in the global coordination and monitoring of the Tsunami Early Warning Systems in both technical development (upstream) as well as in community preparedness for tsunami hazards (downstream). Tsunami Information Centres have been established and serve as an information resource that shares and distributes educational, awareness and preparedness materials and publications. In addition, in cooperation with regional, sub-regional and national partners, the Organization strengthens local capacities in preparedness, developing SOPs and tsunami emergency responses with special focus on SIDS. Provision of early warning services for other coastal hazards is underpinned by the development of operational ocean forecast systems within the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS).
Flood Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Measures in the Asia and the Pacific Region are being developed at the regional level through common Flood Forecasting and Warning Systems and Disaster Reduction Hyperbases. Web-based platforms for easy access to early warning are aiding their implementation and use by practitioners from local communities, research centers, government institutions and universities in a number of countries.
At National level Flood Early Warning systems are being supported (i.e. Pakistan, Namibia, among others), guidebooks for students have been developed on “Preventing/Reducing the risks of earthquakes and floods” (Jordan) while training teachers on their use and carrying out pilots with them in twenty two schools.
A Drought Early Warning System (drought monitor) has been transferred from the USA to climate related centres in Western (ECOWAS) and Eastern (IGAD) Africa Regions, while capacity has been built by training local experts on its use.
Mainstreaming DRR in the Education sector has been a focus of the Organization consisting of a number of initiatives such as:
• Advocate for DRR in the education sector (Ministries of Education);
• Support to policy development on DRR in the education sector, in the framework of ESD;
• Provide guidance on mainstreaming DRR into the education sector as well as the minimum standards for preparedness, response and recovery have been developed and translated;
• Develop capacity for DRR and emergency response in the education sector;
• Develop and disseminate teaching and learning materials on DRR in the education sector;
• Organize campaigns to promote a culture of prevention through education;
• Promote a School-Based Disaster Preparedness Model tested in schools.
Support is provided to Member States to integrate Disaster Risk Reduction into national policies and planning. The Organization has developed community self-assessment tools and educational & awareness-raising materials that integrate local and indigenous knowledge with science.
Furthermore, UNESCO has been proactive in protecting our common heritage from the effects of natural hazards by supporting Member States to be prepared (rapid response activities) and to set up prevention mechanisms (early warning systems). Finally, UNESCO supported countries in simulating evacuation drills at schools and trained the teachers on the appropriate evacuation measures.