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  United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

Natural and environmental disasters: UNESCO’s past activities (i.e. pre-January 2005)

Many small island developing countries are particularly vulnerable to various types of natural hazards and disasters: volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, floods, hurricanes and cyclones. To the extent that more than half of the 25 most disaster-prone countries are SIDS.

UNESCO’s past work has focused on efforts for identifying areas subject to natural hazards, improving risk assessment methods, and encouraging preparedness for hazardous events. Work in the Pacific has focused on support to community-driven natural disaster/hazard reduction and mitigation in Tonga, Vanuatu and elsewhere, in collaboration with Massey University in New Zealand and other partners. For many years, UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) has sponsored the International Coordination Group for the Tsunami Warning System in the Pacific (and its work of disseminating tsunami watches, warnings and advisory bulletins), and the International Tsunami Information Center, which collects data and maintains records on tsunamogenic events.

For the past decade-and-a-half in the Caribbean, within a project on coastal and beach stability in the Lesser Antilles, coastal planners, governments and NGOs have been monitoring beaches and coastlines to determine wise developmental practices, in the face of the effects of hurricanes and storm surges on coastal strips. This work is now being extended to other island regions. Also in the Caribbean, a number of collaborative activities have been undertaken on educational and communication aspects of disaster mitigation, such as the preparation of a disaster preparedness manual for Caribbean schools through a joint initiative with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency.

Most of these activities are long term and continuing, and can be accessed through ‘UNESCO’s Role and Contribution’ (right).



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