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International Workshop At Western Dec 10th, 2004

Some of the world's leading researchers, policy and decision-makers in catastrophic loss reduction will be at Western Monday and Tuesday for an international workshop on water and disasters.

Nearly 100 participants from Canada, Germany, Venezuela, Japan, Australia, Austria, Nigeria, France, Ghana and Jamaica will share knowledge and expertise about international, national and local initiatives aimed at minimizing the negative impacts of water-related disasters.

The workshop, which takes places at Western’s Spencer Conference Centre, will include representatives of UNESCO, International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), UN University and other international and national organizations responsible for mitigation of water-related disasters.

"ICLR is pleased to have a notable gathering of international experts at our event such as Dr. Andras Szollosi-Nagy, Deputy Director General of UNESCO and participants from three major UN organizations,” says Western professor Slobodan Simonovic, Chair of the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR) and host of the event.

“The goal of the conference is to jointly produce a document which I will present to a World Conference on Disaster Reduction in Kobe, Japan in January 2005."

In addition, conference participants will produce an analytical report to address conclusions relevant to the international and Canadian context with recommendations as to what actions should be taken in Canada and internationally.

During the last decade, more than 2000 water-related disasters occurred globally. Asia and Africa led the pack with floods accounting for half of these disasters. The economic cost of water-related natural disasters, especially in developing countries where they often cause water-borne and vector-disease outbreaks, is considerable.

The very poor, the elderly, women and children are most affected. As more and more people live on marginal land, there is a greater risk from flooding or drought.

Western Adjunct Research Professor (Economics) Paul Kovacs, and ICLR Executive Director, says 2004 is the International Year of Water Disasters.

“World wide, there is a shortage of effective disaster preparedness and mitigation method,” says Kovacs. “Appropriate risk-mitigation investment and the redirection of resources into prevention offer significant benefits as well as reduction in loss of life and personal property".

Globally, the number of water-related disasters (floods and droughts) has more than doubled since 1996. Climate change and escalating climate
variability almost assuredly means that the risk of water-related hazards will prevail.

In fact the world will be facing more severe water-related events more often meaning that proactive disaster risk management strategies will become an increasingly important part of prevention activity world wide. The documents generated by the International Workshop: Water and Disasters are expected to go a long way toward shaping international strategy and action.

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