15 December 2011, Bangkok, Thailand - A think-tank conference organised by Wilton Park and ADPC with support from Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs gathered thinkers and practitioners in Thailand to discuss the future of disaster reduction as the country emerges from its worst floods in decades. Against this sobering backdrop, the conference was also a landmark event in the celebrations of ADPC's 25th anniversary.

With United Nations climate talks in Durban focusing on the huge impact of disasters and the urgent need to take action to reduce risks, the invited participants to the DRR event in Thailand discussed practical recommendations on how DRR can be implemented more efficiently and bring more value to local communities in Asia that are chronically vulnerable to hydro-meteorological and geological disasters.

Participants included key actors from Asia engaged in disaster preparedness and risk reduction at sub-national, national and regional level, as well as a selection of international actors; UNOSAT was invited to bring to the table the experience in applying satellite imagery and GIS for emergency response to recent mega-disasters in the region. UNOSAT contribution also highlighted with practical examples how crowd-sourced geo-pictures have proven to be an invaluable information source for emergency management, but equally important for disaster preparedness and risk reduction. Enabling local communities to record what happens where and when during a natural disaster becomes an empowering asset for local and national authorities wishing to design and implement detailed risk reduction plans. Combining this approach with wide area satellite imagery coverage and result oriented capacity development puts national authorities and their disaster management centres in a position to take informed decisions and put into practice the principles of the Hyogo Framework for Action.

In 2011, UNOSAT and ADPC with the financial support of the government of Norway have launched a three year long regional initiative to develop the capacity of countries across the region to benefit from the practical solutions offered by satellite derived mapping and disaster management GIS applications. The initiative combines training held annually in Bangkok with in-country technical assistance and training programmes the latest of which was carried out by UNOSAT experts in Vietnam in December this year.

Photos courtesy of UNOSAT