Prestigious UN honours awarded to disaster prevention experts

5 October 2007

A Japanese professor who educates both the Government and the public on practical skills for disaster risk reduction and an engineer from Grenada and Barbados focusing on building safety are recipients of this year’s prestigious United Nations Sasakawa Award for Disaster Reduction.

A Japanese professor who educates both the Government and the public on practical skills for disaster risk reduction and an engineer from Grenada and Barbados focusing on building safety are recipients of this year’s prestigious United Nations Sasakawa Award for Disaster Reduction.

“The award recognizes the efforts of these individuals – both trained as engineers – to communicate effectively on hazard and risk-related issues with a wide range of stakeholders including social scientists, engineers, architects and decision-makers as well as the general public,” said Salvano Briceño, director of the Geneva-based secretariat of the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR).

“Their ability to bridge the gaps between science and practice has brought disaster risk reduction closer to people’s daily’s lives.”

Kyoto University Professor Yoshiaki Kawata, who specializes in disaster risk reduction, has been selected for the honor for his promotion of research and knowledge about past disasters.

According to the ISDR, he has highlighted the lessons learned from the Great Hanshin Awaji, or Kobe, Earthquake which took over 6,400 lives and is one of the most devastating earthquakes in Japanese history.

Mr. Kawata has dedicated much of the past three decades raising public awareness of disasters; in 2002, he founded the Disaster Reduction and Human Renovation Institution and established the Kobe Disaster Reduction Museum to educate both the public and local governments in practical knowledge and skills.

A pioneer in advancing safe architectural and designs to resist natural hazards, Tony Gibbs works as an advisor for the UN and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Disaster Mitigation Advisory Group on hospital safety.

He has made significant contribution to hazard awareness and disaster risk reduction n the Caribbean and throughout the Americas, according to ISDR. He has also focused on designing structures to protect hospitals against wind and earthquakes, influencing standards and advances in building design worldwide.

Aside from these achievements, Mr. Gibbs is also being awarded the prize for his advocacy and leadership role in sharing knowledge with engineers, architects, builders and the public.

A Sasakawa Certificate of Distinction was also awarded to ActionAid International, a South African non-governmental organization (NGO) for its role in incorporating disaster risk reduction and the Hyogo Framework – which offers a number of concrete steps to make communities and nations more resilient to any type of disaster – into is sustainable development activities.

The Social Action Centre in the Philippines, La Red Habitat en Riesgo in Argentina and the South African Disaster Mitigation for Sustainable Livelihoods Programme are being recognized for their efforts with Sasakawa Certificates of Merit.

The UN Sasakawa Award for Disaster Reduction, along with the UN World Health Organization (WHO) Sasakawa Health Prize and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Sasakawa Environment Prize, was established in 1986 by the Nippon Foundation in Japan. Laureates are selected by the UN Sasakawa jury, comprising representatives from the five continents.

 

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