17 January 2014, Geneva, Switzerland - 2014 is a crucial year for the disaster reduction community. With only 14 months to go until the third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) is organizing a variety of international consultations and two formal preparatory committees in charge of paving the way to the adoption of a new Post 2015 Disaster Risk Reduction Framework. The current strategy, the Hyogo Framework for Action, was adopted in 2005 at the World Conference that took place in Kobe, Japan.

Disaster risk reduction is a complex domain in which technical and policy issues are intertwined. Diplomats and delegates who will participate in the preparatory committees to be held in Geneva and then in the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in March 2015 in Japan need to develop enough familiarity with technical aspects, terminology and interdisciplinary facets that permeate disaster risk reduction. UNITAR is preparing to help the process by offering objective and factual technical briefings to all interested delegates during one-day courses to be organised back to back with the preparatory committee sessions planned in Geneva in July and November 2014. An on-line library and set of tutorials will complement the programme.

The content of the orientation and training programme is being developed by UNITAR expert trainers and UNISDR staff. Margareta Wahlstrom, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, says: “The UNITAR Training Course is being designed to provide a comprehensive overview of key issues related to disaster risk reduction and will contribute to establish a level playing field for all delegates and diplomats in the up-run to the adoption of the Post-2015 Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. It will not only provide all participants with an insight into the significant impact of disasters on poverty reduction efforts and economic losses in general but also stimulate debate about what the priorities should be in the Post-2015 Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction”.

The orientation and training programme includes modules curated by DRR experts and a dedicated section on multilateral conferencing and diplomacy curated by UNITAR’s Multilateral Diplomacy Programme. The Programme has a long record of working with UN Member States and other partners to strengthen the capacity of diplomats and other government officials in multilateral diplomacy, particularly in view of increasing performance in conferences and meetings convened at the United Nations and regional organizations.

UNITAR is seeking donor support to complete the design and ensure the timely delivery of the courses in Geneva in July and November 2014.
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In the photo: Margareta Wahlstrom, Special Representative of the Secretary General for Disaster Risk Reduction (images courtesy of UNISDR).