United Nations

A/51/186


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

11 July 1996

ORIGINAL:
ENGLISH


                                                   A/51/186
                                                   E/1996/80
                                                   


GENERAL ASSEMBLY                               ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL
Fifty-first session                            Substantive session of 1996
Item 98 (c) of the preliminary list*           Agenda item 6 (h)
ENVIRONMENT AND SUSTAINABLE                    ECONOMIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL
  DEVELOPMENT                                    QUESTIONS: INTERNATIONAL
                                                 DECADE FOR NATURAL DISASTER
*    A/51/50.                                    REDUCTION


              International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction

                        Report of the Secretary-General

                                SUMMARY

      In response to the request formulated by the General Assembly in
its resolution 50/117 A of 20 December 1995, the present report
contains information on the implementation of the International
Framework of Action for the International Decade for Natural Disaster
Reduction.  The report provides an overview of critical needs for
enhancing the distinct programme and coordination capabilities of the
International Framework of Action in relation to major strategic
challenges in the fields of sustainable development and humanitarian
assistance.  It presents opportunities for action to meet those needs
by improving the recognition of natural disaster reduction as a cross-
cutting issue of sustainable development.  The report relates natural
disaster reduction to the United Nations coordinated approach to the
implementation of global action plans in the context of the evaluation
and overall review of Agenda 21, and contains proposals on the
structure and contents of the preparatory process for the closing
event of the Decade, to be convened before the year 2000.


                                   CONTENTS

                                                              Paragraphs Page

 I.   INTRODUCTION .........................................    1 - 5      3

II.   PROGRESS IN DISASTER REDUCTION .......................    6 - 24     3

III.  PROCESS FOR PROGRAMME DEVELOPMENT ....................   25 - 35     7

      A. Basic needs ......................................    25 - 27     7

      B. The closing event of the Decade ..................    28 - 29     8

      C. The preparatory process ..........................    30 - 35     8

IV.   FRAMEWORK ............................................   36 - 72     9

      A. Special High-level Council .......................    36 - 37     9

      B. Scientific and Technical Committee ...............    38 - 44    10

      C. Contact Group ....................................    45 - 46    11

      D. National committees ..............................    47 - 48    11

      E. Inter-agency Steering Committee ..................    49 - 52    12

      F. Coordination within the United Nations system ....    53 - 56    12

      G. Secretariat of the International Decade for 
         Natural Disaster Reduction .......................    57 - 62    13

      H. Trust Fund for the International Decade for
         Natural Disaster Reduction .......................    63 - 65    14

      I. Thematic and operational linkages ................    66 - 72    15

 V.   CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS ......................   73 - 75    16


                               I.  INTRODUCTION


1.   Since the proclamation by the General Assembly, in its resolution
44/236 of 22 December 1989, of the International Decade for Natural
Disaster Reduction, concerted international efforts have been made to
reduce the effects of natural disasters and similar emergencies
through the International Framework of Action for the Decade
(resolution 44/236, annex).  The Yokohama Strategy for a Safer World,
adopted by the World Conference on Natural Disaster Reduction, held in
Yokohama, Japan, in May 1994, and endorsed by the General Assembly in
its resolution 49/22 A of 2 December 1994, contains the guiding
principles and provides a plan of action for the realization of the
Decade's goals in local communities and at the national, regional and
international levels.

2.   A variety of contributors from all involved sectors have become
partners in applying the concept of the Decade.  General Assembly
resolutions 49/22 A and 49/22 B of 20 December 1994, the last biennial
report on activities submitted to the General Assembly at its fiftieth
session (A/50/201-E/1995/74), and the report on early-warning
capacities of the United Nations system with regard to natural
disasters (A/50/526) have provided specific examples of disaster-
reduction activities being pursued around the world.  Those reports
have highlighted the need for more effective coordination in
disseminating and applying disaster-reduction knowledge and action.

3.   The report to the General Assembly at its fiftieth session on
financial issues of the International Decade for Natural Disaster
Reduction (A/50/521) pointed to the need for improved funding security
for all aspects of the Decade and for effective synergies within the
Department of Humanitarian Affairs of the Secretariat.

4.   In adopting resolution 50/117 A of 20 December 1995, the General
Assembly reiterated the importance of convening a closing event of the
Decade.  The event would facilitate the full integration of disaster
reduction into sustainable development and environmental protection by
the year 2000 and would map a comprehensive strategy for disaster
reduction in the twenty-first century.  In this respect, disaster
reduction is related to agendas for national measures and to
international cooperation in implementing the action plans of the
recent United Nations thematic conferences.

5.   The General Assembly further requested the Secretary-General to
submit proposals on how the distinct programme and coordination
capability of the secretariat of the Decade might be enhanced so as to
enable it to effectively coordinate the activities of the Decade and
promote the integration of natural disaster reduction into the
sustainable development process.


                      II.  PROGRESS IN DISASTER REDUCTION

6.   Early in the Decade, the international scientific community took
the lead, within the framework of the Decade, to demonstrate the
feasibility of systematic natural disaster reduction for the
protection of national assets and development accomplishments. 
Practical targets were established by the Scientific and Technical
Committee of the Decade, which remain as valid today as when they were
conceived at the beginning of the Decade.  Based on the overall
recognition by the Member States of the United Nations of the merits
of disaster reduction, many countries are proceeding to attain those
targets through their own policy initiatives and through the
commitment of essential human and material resources.  Other countries
are still in the process of recognizing the threat posed by natural
disasters and of developing preventive strategies in order to protect
their national assets.

7.   Organizations of the United Nations system have contributed
significant policy initiatives and have initiated programmes to
promote disaster-reduction practices.  These examples have been
specifically referred to in earlier reports to the General Assembly. 
A comprehensive overview of activities will be provided in the regular
biennial report on the Decade, to be presented to the General Assembly
at its fifty-second session.

8.   The major United Nations conferences convened in the 1990s have
highlighted the need to build national and local capacities in order
firmly to integrate disaster-reduction measures into sustainable
development programmes.  The first of these, the United Nations
Conference on Environment and Development, held in Rio de Janeiro in
1992, produced the global framework for sustainable development in
Agenda 21.

9.   Since the Rio Conference, the Conference on the Sustainable
Development of Small Island Developing States, held in Barbados, and
the World Conference on Natural Disaster Reduction, held in Yokohama
in 1994, successive global commitments have been made at the
International Conference on Population and Development, held in Cairo
in 1994; the World Summit for Social Development (Copenhagen, 1995);
the Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing, 1995), and most
recently, the Second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements
(Istanbul, June 1996).  One notable outcome of the Yokohama Conference
was the Yokohama Strategy and Plan of Action, which can best be
achieved by integrating it with the coordinated implementation of
action plans of the other international conferences.

10.  The commitment to concerted international action for disaster
reduction has broadened the appeal of disaster reduction.  Natural
hazards are recognized as having an intrinsic relationship with human-
induced phenomena, such as technological or ecological conditions,
which have an adverse impact on the environment.  The effects of
natural hazards, environmental degradation and sustainable development
are also seen to contribute to involuntary mass movements of
populations.

11.  The process has benefited, in particular, from the commitment and
participation of the developing countries in the Decade and in the
World Conference on Natural Disaster Reduction in Yokohama.  The
developing countries have been active both on the political front,
through the mechanism of the Group of 77, and through the practical
involvement of all sectors of their society at the local, national,
subregional and regional levels.  The Group of 77 has recognized that
disaster reduction can reduce the need for disaster relief and
contribute effectively to the achievement of sustainable development.

12.  Accelerated recognition of disaster reduction is also being
encouraged by recent technological and commercial developments.  The
countries of the Group of Seven, working in a partnership with the
information technology industry, have identified improved natural
hazard warnings and communications as one priority area of interest,
in conjunction with the opportunity of sharing technology with
developing countries.  As rapid advances in international
telecommunications and information technology become global and more
accessible to all Member States at reasonable cost, they will make
possible the real-time dissemination of disaster-reduction experience
and practices.  In this context, multi-sectoral efforts towards an
international convention on coordinated telecommunications use in
disaster mitigation and response must be encouraged.

13.  A few examples will demonstrate the vitality and range of
interests that are now incorporating disaster awareness and reduction
practices into mainstream activities.  Experiences are being shared
from recent disasters like the great Hanshin-Awaji earthquake, which
struck Kobe in Japan in January 1995.  Based on this and similar
experiences, the United States of America and Japan recently agreed
that natural disaster reduction should be included on the countries'
common agenda for cooperation at the highest level.  Both countries
pledged to strengthen international networks for exchanging early
warning data on natural disasters and also to share technical
experience gained from lessons about seismic hazards.  Japan has also
taken an initiative with its partners in Asia to improve disaster
prevention, preparedness and mitigation on the basis of the lessons
learned from the Kobe earthquake.

14.  Sharing experiences and information among industrialized and
developing countries provided the rationale for bringing together a
wide range of professions and representatives of the International
Framework of Action of the International Decade for Natural Disaster
Reduction to the Pan-Pacific Conference on Natural Hazards in 1996 in
Vancouver, Canada.  The meeting, which was organized by private
organizations, industry, non-governmental organizations and national
and local government officials, brought together participants involved
in disaster-reduction activities from North and South America, Asia
and the Pacific.  This is a significant example of how international
collaboration can join public policy makers, local community interests
and commercial concerns for sharing of disaster-reduction experiences.

15.  Similar meetings sponsored jointly by regional institutions and
Governments have been held during the past year in South America, in
the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and in the Pacific. 
Other events will be held in Europe.

16.  The national association responsible for promoting Decade affairs
in South Africa convened a subregional conference in March 1996.  The
meeting explicitly linked disaster reduction with national development
objectives.  In addition to fostering efforts for disaster reduction
within South Africa, the participation of officials from southern
Africa also provided an impetus to the strengthening of regional
relationships.

17.  Both China and the United States have increased their efforts to
implement national strategies for disaster mitigation.  In each case,
there was a common recognition that neither of these countries'
economies could continue to remain as vulnerable to the increasing
severity of natural disasters.

18.  In many countries, often with external support, the policy and
technical requirements of disaster reduction are also being addressed
at the national level.  Resulting activities include national
programmes of risk assessment, the establishment of institutional
abilities with a designated national authority to address disaster
reduction or conducting an inventory of existing professional
resources available within a country.  These developments are often
integrated in, or resulting from, regional or intergovernmental
collaboration such as within the European Union (EU) or CIS.

19.  Perhaps most importantly, more countries are analysing their human
resource requirements for disaster mitigation and are taking measures
to provide the necessary education and training.  Programmes such as
the Disaster Management Training Programme, jointly conducted by the
Department of Humanitarian Affairs and the United Nations Development
Programme (UNDP), have demonstrated how the cost-effective investment
of resources into risk analysis and preventive capabilities can
initiate programmes which are integrated into national planning.

20.  In the private sector, both small, local enterprises and major
international corporations are more aware of the need to reduce their
vulnerability to natural disasters.  They are increasingly developing
countermeasures that ensure their business continuity.  In some
countries, engineering firms have identified expanding markets in
hazard assessment, earth observation technology and risk management. 
This has often developed as a result of environmental impact
assessments and dialogue between the public and private sectors.

21.  Major international re-insurance firms have mounted advertising
campaigns, directed towards public policy authorities and private
investors alike, to inform about the benefits of disaster mitigation. 
Similarly, local insurance agencies are becoming more active in risk
management by advising communities how to safeguard dwellings from
cyclone or flood damage.  Elsewhere, insurance interests are teaming
up with public officials to give greater emphasis to the social and
physical vulnerabilities of human settlements and infrastructure
investment, when drafting legislation on land-use planning, natural
resource management and environmental protection.  An international
conference sponsored by the Decade was held in Vladivostok, in the
Russian Federation, in 1996 to address the issue of the insurance and
disaster mitigation.

22.  Progress to date has not been uniform, nor has it been consistent
throughout the world.  However, what must be appreciated and
capitalized upon at the present stage of the Decade is the increasing
diversity and variety of initiatives in the field of disaster
reduction.  Many of those initiatives are generated and undertaken
outside activities of the United Nations, but they are indirectly the
result of the promotional role which the United Nations system has
played in fostering those developments.  There is a noticeable growth
in the perceived relevance of disaster reduction by all concerned
sectors, with particular emphasis in the private domain.  This
suggests that the ultimate success of the Decade will rest more with
the actions and commitments of those international, national and local
community partners which exist beyond the United Nations.  With the
Decade entering its eighth year in 1997, it becomes necessary to
consolidate these interests even more firmly.  The closing event of
the Decade, and in particular the process leading up to it, provide
the mechanism.

23.  The United Nations retains a critical role in ensuring that the
momentum that has developed for enhancing natural disaster reduction
in the world is maintained.  The impact of individual initiatives
should not become limited through isolated knowledge.  The United
Nations system must encourage information exchange to enhance
education, training and the transfer of knowledge and technology.

24.  The time has now arrived to consolidate existing progress in
natural disaster reduction and link it firmly with economic and social
development and environmental protection, which together form the
mutually reinforcing components of sustainable development.  With the
Decade, the United Nations has established a mechanism to support the
international community's efforts to achieve social stability and
economic well-being.


                    III.  PROCESS FOR PROGRAMME DEVELOPMENT

                                A.  Basic needs

25.  The World Conference on Natural Disaster Reduction determined the
development of a comprehensive and effective strategy for disaster
reduction beyond the Decade and into the twenty-first century as the
key requirement for the remaining years of the Decade.  Action in this
respect has to start now, and in a coordinated and structured fashion. 
As elaborated in the report on the Decade to the General Assembly at
its fiftieth session, this strategy will have to encompass both
substantive and organizational aspects.  It should emerge as the
result of a process with full participation of all concerned sectors. 
A critical need to be pursued for institutional consolidation is the
identification and active engagement of key collaborating and/or
sponsoring organizations presently involved in various aspects of
implementing disaster reduction throughout the world.  The current
International Framework for Action for the Decade provides the initial
basis to proceed.

26.  Options for future forms of organization after the Decade has come
to a close need to be developed.  These may include the establishment
of an appropriate private facility.  Possibilities include an
international non-governmental organization, a foundation underwritten
by national Governments and other concerned bodies, or an
internationally recognized centre of excellence accommodated by a
university or technical institution.  The options will also have to
recognize the ongoing interests and responsibilities of the United
Nations system and intergovernmental organizations.

27.  The International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction must
encourage all such initiatives and evaluate their potential in the
process towards the closing event.  The secretariat for the Decade
will explore those feasibilities expeditiously.


                      B.  The closing event of the Decade

28.  General Assembly resolution 49/22 A already provides the mechanism
to initiate the process of international coordination towards the
evaluation of the Decade's success and the options for sustained
disaster reduction activities in the future.  By that resolution, the
Assembly decided to convene an event before the year 2000 to carry out
an overall review of the accomplishments of the Decade and to map a
strategy for continued disaster reduction activities into the twenty-
first century.  This decision was confirmed and further elaborated
during the fiftieth session of the Assembly with the adoption of
resolution 50/117 A, in which the Assembly noted the need for sectoral
and cross-sectoral meetings to facilitate the full integration of
disaster reduction into the substantive efforts for sustainable
development and environmental protection by the year 2000.

29.  The closing event of the Decade will be the culmination of a
process that started with the preparatory phase in 1987.  The Decade
has been conceived by the scientific sector and adopted by the United
Nations system as a concept and mechanism within humanitarian and
development activities.  It has also been applied by entities outside
the United Nations system.  Consequently, the closing event itself,
and the process leading towards it, will on the one hand be an
integral part of United Nations formal action and will also draw upon
sectors outside the United Nations.  The closing event and its
preparatory process will have to be productive and cost-effective.


                          C.  The preparatory process

30.  The closing event of the Decade will be convened under the
auspices of the United Nations.  Its structure, including the
preparatory activities, will be based on the successful experience of
the Yokohama Conference, which adopted a multidisciplinary approach to
ensure participation of all concerned sectors of society, assembled
within the International Framework of Action for the Decade.

31.  The process towards the closing event will be built around a
preparatory committee with equitable regional composition, which will
develop the agenda for the closing event, its precise framework of
participation, its intended outcome and proposals for the follow-up
into the twenty-first century.  The preparatory committee will
organize two to three meetings in Geneva, in 1997, 1998 and, if
necessary, in 1999.  The work of the Preparatory Committee will take
into account the work of committees for the Decade, the results of
regional preparatory activities and other relevant entities as
appropriate.

32.  In addition to the formal preparatory process, maximum use will be
made of thematic or regional events beyond the United Nations system
to include seminars, workshops, symposia or conferences relevant to
natural disaster reduction.

33.  The General Assembly in resolution 50/117 A designated the
secretariat of the Decade as the substantive secretariat for the
preparation of the closing event.  In executing this function and
expected parallel activities, the secretariat for the Decade will
involve all relevant bodies of the United Nations system and will draw
on the support of other international organizations, intergovernmental
organizations and Governments.  Within the formal preparatory process,
particular attention will be paid to effective coordination of all
concerned United Nations agencies and organizations through the inter-
agency Steering Committee for the Decade and its Working Group.

34.  In thematic terms, the preparatory process will be structured
around the targets and overall objective of the Decade, as laid down
in the annex to General Assembly resolution 44/236, proclaiming the
Decade.  It will take into consideration the findings of the World
Conference on Natural Disaster Reduction of May 1994 and the resulting
Yokohama Strategy and Plan of Action.  It will also consider relevant
action plans of other United Nations conferences related to the
consequences of natural disasters and to the need for disaster
prevention, preparedness and mitigation.

35.  Key areas of attention comprise first the analysis and reduction
of vulnerability to natural hazards through natural disaster
reduction, including the development of sound methodologies for the
assessment of social and economic impacts of natural disasters and the
cost-effectiveness of preventive action.  Another critical area
involves the improvement of the capabilities of the United Nations
system and other concerned entities for early warning for natural
disasters, which is closely linked with improved information
management and communication capabilities.  The establishment of
organized network capabilities among all sectors of the International
Framework of Action for the Decade is a particularly important aspect
for individual members and institutions of the scientific and
technical communities.  Such networking is dependent upon the
development of a sustained clearing-house capability within the
Framework of Action for the collation and dissemination of best
practices in natural disaster reduction.  Promotion and awareness-
raising on natural disaster reduction, including specialized
publications and the effective and interdisciplinary application of
scientific and technical knowledge in education and training, will be
maintained.  Finally, the integration of disaster reduction into
national planning with the full participatory involvement of local
authorities and local communities at risk represents a major challenge
for the successful implementation of the Decade.


                                IV.  FRAMEWORK

                        A.  Special High-level Council

36.  A specific proposal to establish a new Special High-level Council
in 1997, in line with the recommendations of General Assembly
resolution 49/22 A, has been prepared by the secretariat for the
Decade.  It foresees 5 to 10 internationally renowned individuals
representing all regions of the world, who can influence high-profile
funding initiatives and sustained political commitment on a global
scale.  The revised Council will be serviced in close synergy with the
scientific and technical abilities of the Scientific and Technical
Committee.  The effectiveness of a reconstituted Special High-level
Council is closely linked with advocacy for natural disaster reduction
within the context of sustainable development.  It is also dependent
on the continuing functioning of the other components of the
International Framework of Action for the Decade, in particular its
secretariat within the Department of Humanitarian Affairs.

37.  Active functioning national committees are an essential
prerequisite for a credible and feasible reconstitution of the Special
High-level Council to support the intended political and advocacy role
of future members of the Council.


                    B.  Scientific and Technical Committee

38.  The Scientific and Technical Committee met for its seventh session
in Moscow in March 1996, at the invitation and with the financial
support of the Ministry of Emergency Situations and Civil Defence of
the Russian Federation.  With the completion of the second rotation of
Committee members, eight new members joined the Committee at its
seventh session.

39.  At the seventh session, the members of the Committee issued a
statement to draw the attention of the United Nations and of the
international community to the importance of disaster reduction within
the development dimension and to the need for adequate resources
within the context of technical cooperation.  In addition, the
statement expressed concern about the continuing lack of funds for the
secretariat of the Decade.

40.  In keeping with previous practice the Scientific and Technical
Committee proceeded to discuss future programme requirements for three
key subject areas of activity.  First, training, research and the
practical application of measures for disaster reduction provided a
frame of reference to identify means to extend existing knowledge and
experience to a larger audience of potential implementors.  Existing
organizational partnerships among technical and academic institutions,
as well as between government agencies and non-governmental
organizations on a regional basis were cited as appropriate mechanisms
for disaster training and research.

41.  The current status of the Decade's programme initiatives in
information systems and in data management systems was the second area
of focus for the Committee.  The review included present opportunities
and future considerations for the application of communications, space
technologies and remote sensing for sustained disaster reduction
practices.  Those technologies also support both dissemination of
early warning information and development of its capacities.  This
will be the subject of a report to the General Assembly at its fifty-
second session, in 1997, in response to resolution 50/117 B.

42.  The Third area of attention was the continued utility of
demonstration projects and their role in transmitting knowledge and
newly established experience.  The secretariat of the Decade has
undertaken a review of existing demonstration projects to highlight
those activities which can be useful in expanding the use of disaster
reduction techniques.  The report of the Scientific and Technical
Committee, on its seventh session, and its recommendations, are
available from the secretariat for the Decade. 1/ 

43.  In seeking to become more directly involved on both sectoral and
geographical issues and to give attention to the practical application
of disaster reduction measures, the members of the Scientific and
Technical Committee created working groups to provide added impetus to
the following areas of activity:  training; demonstration projects;
communications and information management; early warning systems; and
economic and preventive planning aspects.

44.  The Committee agreed that the next session would focus on the
closing process of the Decade and the importance of economic and
preventive planning aspects of disaster reduction.  At the next
meeting of the Committee, which will be hosted in Paris by the United
Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and
will be held jointly with the Inter-agency Steering Committee at the
end of 1996, consideration will also be given to the relationships
between the two Committees and their respective roles in the process
of transition into the post-Decade period.


                               C.  Contact Group

45.  During the reporting period, the informal open-ended Contact Group
of countries and United Nations agencies and organizations established
at Geneva has continued, under the chairmanship of the Permanent
Representative of Costa Rica to the United Nations Office at Geneva,
to serve as an instrument for dialogue and advice on all major
thematic issues relating to the Decade.  The Group's core group has
met regularly, placing an emphasis on enhancing the possibilities of
integrating natural disaster reduction into sustainable development. 
This has been done by considering the results of the World Conference
on Natural Disaster Reduction of May 1994 within a coordinated
approach of the United Nations system towards implementing global
action plans.

46.  The Group has pointed out the potential benefits of a similar
mechanism in New York with specific emphasis on relating the Decade to
the work of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group of the General
Assembly on an Agenda for Development, as well as ensuring involvement
in the review process of Agenda 21.  These actions will provide
further impetus to the full participation and involvement of Member
States into the substantive and organizational preparations for the
Decade's closing event.


                            D.  National committees

47.  The national committee concept represents the backbone for the
successful implementation of the Decade's targets and overall
objective by 1999.  The activities are being implemented nationally. 
This trend is gaining momentum as more national authorities and
specific agencies announce strategic disaster-mitigation initiatives. 
It is encouraging that an increasing number of national entities have
become involved through their participation in programmes for the
International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction, with more than 60
countries reporting their activities in 1995.  Many of those
activities were used to initiate longer-term programmes on the theme
"Women and Children - Key to Prevention".  The special publication for
children and schoolteachers used to promote the theme has proved to be
a popular vehicle for many national committees.

48.  Some of the national committees work well, but many more require
urgent advice and technical or collaborative support on how to
progress in line with the Yokohama Strategy and Plan of Action.  As
more national committees are approaching the secretariat of the Decade
for assistance in formulating national disaster-reduction strategies
and in seeking expert support, the secretariat's ability to serve the
national committees effectively is a crucial factor for the remaining
years of the Decade.  The secretariat must be able to communicate with
national committees through correspondence, visits, meetings and
conferences.  Many national committees provide an organizational
option for national-level disaster reduction beyond the year 2000. 
They will have to be firmly integrated in the Decade's ultimate
evaluation of success.


                      E.  Inter-agency Steering Committee

49.  The Working Group of the Inter-agency Steering Committee for the
Decade has continued to provide a valuable forum for coordinating the
implementation of programmes for the Decade.  A meeting of the group
in January 1996 set the framework and priorities for inter-agency
approaches during the reporting period, including efforts to draw
attention to disaster reduction within the respective governing boards
of the concerned United Nations agencies and organizations.

50.  The Working Group has agreed on the need to sustain attention on
the key thematic issues of the Yokohama Strategy and Plan of Action. 
The members of the Working Group have been actively involved in the
Decade's initiative to improve the international coordination of early
warning systems, as well as in the development of a basic policy on
training and education for the application of scientific knowledge in
disaster-reduction practice.

51.  The Working Group is planning a formal session of the Steering
Committee at the end of 1996, to launch the preparatory process for
the closing event of the Decade within the United Nations system.  The
Committee will develop a work plan for concrete action during the
remaining years of the Decade.

52.  In addition, the Working Group has contributed in the preparation
of the report on natural and environmental disasters in small island
developing States for the fourth session of the Commission on
Sustainable Development.  The report has been finalized by the
secretariat of the Decade and the World Meteorological Organization
(WMO).


               F.  Coordination within the United Nations system

53.  Within the United Nations Secretariat, the secretariat of the
International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction has enjoyed
cooperation with the Department for Policy Coordination and
Sustainable Development and the Department for Development Support and
Management Services.  Apart from the issue of natural and
environmental disasters in small island developing States and the
implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable
Development of the Small Island Developing States, cooperation with
the Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development has
extended to the design of indicators for human and economic losses due
to natural disasters.  The Department for Development Support and
Management Services is proceeding to give greater attention to
disaster-reduction issues, having developed a global programme for the
integration of public administration and the science of disasters.

54.  The agencies and organizations of the United Nations system have
continued their active involvement in activities of the Decade and the
sectoral promotion of disaster-reduction issues.  These include the
World Health Organization (WHO), WMO and UNESCO and its International
Oceanographic Commission.

55.  The importance of the efforts being made at country level to apply
disaster-reduction awareness and practices in the context of United
Nations development programmes should be noted.  The interest and the
involvement of United Nations resident coordinators and resident
representatives of UNDP have given considerable impetus to this
process.  Increasingly, established development planning and
coordinating mechanisms such as the country strategy note are used to
accommodate a greater awareness of disaster implications in national
developmental planning efforts.  This development supports the
integration of comprehensive risk assessments and mitigation plans
into the national development process.

56.  With a view to formulating the global natural disaster-reduction
strategy for the twenty-first century called for by the World
Conference on Natural Disaster Reduction, cooperation between the
International Framework of Action for the Decade and the United
Nations development programmes, agencies and organizations should be
strengthened further.


                 G.  Secretariat of the International Decade for
                     Natural Disaster Reduction

57.  The main activities of the secretariat of the Decade during the
reporting period involve three major areas.  The first is servicing
the International Framework for Action.  The Scientific and Technical
Committee is the primary means of the secretariat for communicating
with the scientific community.  A second responsibility is the
promotion of the concept of the Decade through public information,
awareness-raising and training, including the active promotion of
disaster reduction.  Finally, the active involvement of staff in
relevant legislative and programme activities of the United Nations
system has continued.

58.  In addition, the secretariat has participated in the strategic
orientation and analysis of the Department of Humanitarian Affairs, of
which the Decade is an integral part.  This exercise has reaffirmed
natural disaster reduction and the Decade as core activities of the
Department and contributed to the development of a detailed work plan
for 1996-1997 and a related financial strategy.

59.  The secretariat of the Decade has also continued its thematic
project involvement, including studies on socio-economic and legal
aspects of disasters and a global project for disaster resistant
urbanization and seismic risk assessment in urban areas (RADIUS).

60.  The 1995 International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction was very
successful.  The campaign developed national capacities to encourage
proactive roles for women and children before disaster strikes.  More
than three times as many organizations reported activities to the
Decade secretariat as in 1994.  Over 70 round tables and conferences
addressed the theme of the Day worldwide, many of them being conducted
at high level and with tangible outcomes.  A new booklet, "Learning
about Natural Disasters", was a great success, with over 200,000
copies produced in eight languages by the Decade secretariat and many
partners around the world.  Requests for translation into 15
additional local languages and 50,000 requests for additional copies
of the booklet remain unfulfilled pending additional funding.

61.  Other major publications issued during 1995 included Stop
Disasters magazine, the Decade newsletter for the Americas produced in
Costa Rica in cooperation with the Pan-American Health Organization
(PAHO), three reports on regional African workshops and the Yokohama
Message, Strategy and Plan of Action from the World Conference on
Natural Disaster Reduction.  In 1995-1996, the secretariat arranged
for representation and distribution of materials for more than
70 conferences around the world.

62.  The issue of "Cities at Risk" was selected as the 1996 campaign
theme for the Decade to complement Habitat II.  The campaign includes
an international poster competition, an Internet conference and a
special publication of Stop Disasters.  Circulars, posters and
publications intended to help countries, national committees and local
community organizations plan their own campaigns have also been
distributed.


            H.  Trust Fund for the International Decade for Natural
                Disaster Reduction                             

63.  In response to a request made by the Economic and Social Council
in 1995, a report on the core functions of the secretariat of the
Decade and its financing was presented to the General Assembly at its
fiftieth session (A/50/521).  The report has formed the basis for a
special funding appeal the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian
Affairs has presented on behalf of the Decade in January 1996.  The
financial data of the report have also been integrated into the
overall financial strategy of the Department of Humanitarian Affairs,
which has been presented to the donor community during the first
quarter of 1996.  The annual requirement of the secretariat of the
Decade, necessary for the execution of its core functions, amounts to
$4.2 million.

64.  During the reporting period, traditional donors to the Decade have
continued their support.  This has been crucial for the continuity of
the secretariat of the Decade.  Contributions have been received from
Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, the Russian Federation,
Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern
Ireland, the United States of America and the Commission of the
European Communities.  Donations were also received from the
Australian Coordinating Committee for the Decade, UNICEF and the
private sector.  In addition, the secretariat benefits from the
contribution in kind of a senior scientific expert and a Junior
Professional Officer from Japan.

65.  No additional funding commitments have resulted from the appeal
beyond the traditional donors.  The secretariat of the Decade calls
upon other Member States for support.


                     I.  Thematic and operational linkages

66.  The report on natural and environmental diasters presented to the
Commission on Natural Disaster Reduction at its fourth session in New
York in April 1996 in the context of the progress in the
implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable
Development of Small Island Developing States points out: 2/  

     "The full recognition of the interdependence and the linkages
     between natural disaster reduction and the achievement of
     sustainable development is a decisive prerequisite for all
     progress both at the policy level and at the operational level. 
     Any notion that disaster management is limited to action in
     specific disaster situations, and by special sectors of society
     only, is detrimental to the objective of saving lives and
     protecting property from natural and environmental disasters. 
     Equally, there is a need to avoid the erroneous perception among
     some decision makers and the public that disasters are, by
     definition, synonymous with man-made or politically induced
     emergency situations.  Natural and environmental hazards
     constitute a major threat to both developing and industrialized
     countries; natural and environmental disasters kill and maim
     people and can heavily disrupt the long-term economic and socials
     stability of societies.  Concepts and measures to counter this
     threat deserve the highest possible attention."

67.  The statement can be quoted as the theme for integrating natural
disaster reduction as a cross-cutting issue into activities that
contribute to the achievement of sustainable development.  This notion
has also been explicitly expressed in the General Assembly's
Declaration on the Occasion of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the United
Nations (resolution 50/6), whereby international cooperation for
development, including natural disaster reduction, aims at fostering
economic growth, social development, environmental protection and
justice.

68.  The benefits of natural disaster reduction are also considered in
the work of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group of the General
Assembly on an Agenda for Development.  Section 7, "Humanitarian
issues and development", of chapter II of the synthesis text on the
Agenda for Development contains a subsection on early warning,
prevention, preparedness and reduction of natural disasters.  The text
notes that disaster prevention and mitigation are of primary
importance for reducing the need for disaster relief and calls for
their integration into national strategies and programmes for
sustainable development.

69.  With a view to institutional issues and follow-up, the above-
mentioned synthesis text on the Agenda for Development states in its
chapter III that there is an urgent need for an integrated,
interrelated and coherent implementation and follow-up at the
national, subregional, regional and international levels of the
recommendations and commitments of recent United Nations major
conferences and agreements on development.  The implementation of the
Yokohama Strategy and Plan of Action will have to take due account of
this commitment towards a coordinated approach.  This must include
consideration and involvement of the Decade in the forthcoming
evaluation and overall review of Agenda 21, scheduled to take place
during a special session of the General Assembly in 1997.

70.  The high-level segment of the substantive session of the Economic
and Social Council in 1995 devoted its debate to development in
Africa, including the implementation of the United Nations New Agenda
for the Development of Africa in 1990s.  The summary of the debate by
the President of the Council notes that Africa is one of the
continents prone to natural disasters which adversely affect
development efforts.  It states that programmes for disaster
preparedness, prevention and mitigation in accordance with the
Yokohama Strategy for a Safer World and its Programme of Action should
be instituted to assist Africa to cope with the effects of natural
disasters. 3/

71.  The need and potential for disaster reduction as laid down in the
concept and objectives of the Decade have also been considered in
relation to the issue of mass movements of populations, whether as
refugees or displaced populations.  In the context of activities
organized, inter alia, by the Office of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization
for Migration (IOM), the reduction of disasters has been recognized as
a means to reduce involuntary mass movements of populations resulting
from sudden-onset natural or environmental disasters and similar
emergencies.

72.  In the context of the work of the Commission on Human Rights, the
Decade's preventive, pre-disaster actions are seen as a contribution
to the collective and individual protection of human rights through
securing human life and ensuring basic requirements such as food,
shelter and health.  In this respect, the report on human rights and
the environment submitted to the Commission on Human Rights at its
fifty-second session 4/ noted the relationship between disaster
reduction and human rights issues.


                      V.  CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

73.  The ultimate objective of the International Decade for Natural
Disaster Reduction is to save lives and to protect material resources. 
This is achieved through the reduction of the vulnerability of
communities at risk.  This requires a viable basis for international
cooperation in disaster-reduction activities to ensure the
accomplishment of sustainable development into the twenty-first
century.  The most critical needs are the following:

     (a) Acceptance must be gained among policy makers that disaster
reduction is an investment in the protection of national assets;

     (b) Concerted efforts must be made to translate existing
knowledge into practice;

     (c) Equitable access to the protection from natural disaster must
be ensured for all, in developing and industrialized countries alike;

     (d) The gap remaining between the expectations that have been
raised for concerted multilateral support for disaster reduction and
the present realities must be closed;

     (e) International strategies for natural disaster reduction must
be translated into concrete support for the development of national
capabilities to protect people;

     (f) The Yokohama Strategy and Plan of Action of the World
Conference on Natural Disaster Reduction must be fully integrated into
the concerted approach towards the implementation of the action plans
of all recent global United Nations conferences;

     (g) The international community's commitment to the International
Framework of Action for the International Decade for Natural Disaster
Reduction must be translated, for the period of the Decade, into
concrete support through the adequate provision of human and financial
resources.

74.  Urgent actions need to be taken by the Member States.  Beyond the
endorsements of disaster reduction concepts, concrete actions are
essential to address the remaining tasks effectively.  These include
the following:

     (a) The International Framework of Action is to develop options
for institutional arrangements required by the year 2000 in order to
maintain coordinated measures of disaster reduction beyond the Decade;

     (b) United Nations agencies and organizations are to incorporate
disaster reduction in activities of national planning;

     (c) The Commission on Sustainable Development should be requested
to consider natural disaster reduction as a cross-cutting issue in the
evaluation and overall review of Agenda 21;

     (d) National committees for the Decade and other partners in the
International Framework of Action should solicit a more active
involvement of the private sector in natural disaster reduction,
including the promotion of commercial potential in research, technical
applications and the provision of goods and services;

     (e) The secretariat for the Decade should coordinate a
comprehensive and coherent programme of information management and
dissemination for natural disaster reduction;

     (f) All partners in the International Framework of Action for the
Decade, in particular the scientific and technical community, should
participate in interdisciplinary and multisectoral networks;

     (g) The United Nations is to initiate the preparatory process for
the Decade's closing event, including the provision of the necessary
resources, in order to ensure the mapping of a comprehensive disaster
reduction strategy into the twenty-first century before the year 2000.

75.  As previously referred to in the Yokohama message, 5/ the Decade
stands at a crossroads.  The United Nations and the world community
can positively affect the course of events by reducing the suffering
from natural disasters.  Action is needed now to implement the
policies and goals embodied in the International Decade for Natural
Disaster Reduction.


                                     Notes

     1/  IDNDR/STC/1996/4.

     2/  E/CN.17/1996/20/Add.1, para. 53.

     3/  See Official Records of the General Assembly, Fiftieth
session, Supplement No. 3 (A/50/3/Rev.1), chap. II, para. 29.

     4/  E/CN.4/1996/23.

     5/  A/CONF.172/9.


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