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International Online Conference to Address Water-related DRR under COVID-19 Pandemic



International Online Conference to Address Water-related DRR under COVID-19 Pandemic was held on August 20, 2020 to discuss water-related disaster countermeasures during the COVID-19 pandemic and to share perceptions regarding directions for action and cooperation. The roughly 300 participants included leaders and experts from the United Nations, international organizations, countries, civil society and the private sector participated. The online conference was also attended by the Emperor and Empress of Japan, who observed the entire proceedings with great interest.

Greetings were given by Dr. Han Seung-soo, Chair of the High Level Experts and Leaders Panel on Water and Disasters (HELP) and former Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea; and in video format by Mr. Liu Zhenmin, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs. Then greetings from Prof. Akihiko Tanaka, President of GRIPS were followed by the keynote speeches.

One keynote speaker, Mr. Angel Gurría, Secretary General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), noted the importance of resilience and disaster preparedness in crisis response to phenomena such as water-related disasters, in the context of the COVID-19 infection, which has led not only to a global health crisis, but also to one of the most severe economic setbacks in almost 100 years. He urged that the current crisis be viewed as an opportunity to promote the achievement of long-term goals and of sustainable recovery that is a strong, inclusive, low carbon response to climate change.

The second keynote speaker, H.E. Dr. Danilo Türk, former president of the Republic of Slovenia, said the spread of COVID-19 highlights the importance of environmental efforts and also socio-economic and political efforts, which call for comprehensive socio-economic policies and improved international cooperation. Mr. Türk presented five recommendations for the realization of these goals: strengthening of the links between science and diplomacy; positioning water as a means of peace; strengthening the bottom-up approach and local voice; innovative financing; and adoption of a preventive approach. Finally, he cited the example of the collapse of a dam in April this year, which led to the formation of a new cooperation system between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, two countries that share that basin. He identified water-related disaster prevention as a priority issue in international water cooperation and in efforts for peace and development.

The keynotes were followed by Scientific Omnibus Presentation, aimed at raising issues and sharing information about the various roles that science and technology could play in responses to water-related disasters during the time of widespread COVID-19 infection. Presentations by experts in various fields, including disaster management, information science, and nursing emphasized the need for strengthening of global level networks and collaboration among different disciplines through approaches spanning various fields, including engineering, natural science, social science and medical science.

In the subsequent High-Level Panel Discussion, representatives of countries including the Netherlands and Indonesia, and of the European Commission, JICA, the United Nations, and other organizations, gave briefings on the status of their efforts, and discussed the policies, projects, and partnerships necessary for the tackling of two interrelated crises, COVID-19 infection and water-related disasters.



>Click here to view the concept note.

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