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08/29/94

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Global disaster risk management network announced

STANFORD -- A global network designed to improve national and international efforts to deal with natural disasters has been formed by the United Nations University in cooperation with Stanford University, the World Seismic Safety Initiative and the University of Tokyo's International Center for Disaster-Mitigation Engineering.

Formation of the Global Network on Natural Disaster Risk Management (GLO-DISNET) was announced by Stanford professor of civil engineering Haresh C. Shah on Aug. 29 at the 10th European Conference on Earthquake Engineering in Vienna. Shah, who is a internationally known expert on earthquake damage estimation, is one of the network's organizers.

According to Shah and his colleagues, considerable progress has been made in managing natural disaster risk in developed countries. But in many developing countries, disasters, environmental degradation and poverty form a closely knit vicious cycle. So natural disaster mitigation is essential for sustainable development. Although losses from natural disasters cannot be eliminated, the new network can help to reduce them by facilitating the international cooperation required to implement the latest and best techniques for disaster mitigation around the world.

The principal functions of the new network are to:

  • Develop a general framework for global research and training programs involving natural disaster risk management.
  • Bring together research related to natural disaster risk management in a single, international network.
  • Increase interactions among risk management experts to promote related research and training, reduce overlap in research, promote comparative studies and facilitate international research efforts.
  • Create a global database of relevant research findings that can be disseminated to interested offices in the United Nations and other organizations.
  • Provide reliable, detailed information on effective environmental and risk management strategies to help reduce the impact of natural disasters.

The network will pursue a holistic ecosystems approach to the research and training activities that it undertakes. A primary focus of its activities will be to help developing countries establish effective risk management programs for natural disasters, say its organizers.

The United Nations University is an independent academic organization established by the U.N. with a charter to do research, offer training and disseminate information relating to pressing global problems. It is headquartered in Tokyo and has centers and programs located around the world.

The World Seismic Safety Initiative was organized by the International Association of Earthquake Engineering to promote earthquake safety.

The International Center for Disaster-Mitigation Engineering was established by the Japanese government at the University of Tokyo. The center conducts postdisaster investigations and collects and disseminates related information to the international community.

Stanford University is a private university in California with strong programs in business, law, education, medicine, humanities and the sciences. The university has been a leading center for teaching and research in the field of earthquake engineering for more than two decades.

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