International Conference

Towards 25th anniversary of Spitak earthquake, Ministry of Emergency Situations of Armenia and “Emergency Channel” informative NGO within the framework of DRR National Platform of Armenia, organized a 2-day International Conference on “Public Awareness as a Cornerstone for Disaster Risk Reduction”,December 3-4, Yerevan.

 

“Information of emergency situations has vital importance since people must be aware of hazards and risks around them, what are doing governmental bodies, what kind of plans and programs they have. And finally, people have to know what they must do, how to behave during emergency situations. In this case, accurate, full and on time information prevents panic and chaos, saves lives and promotes trustful dialogue with society.”

Armen Yeritsyan, Minister of Emergency Situations, RA

 

Aim of the Conference

The Conference aims to bring together the world best practices and established values in the field of emergency communications and to discuss further developments.

The Conference will be open for involved international organizations, experts from various countries, state officials, information responsibles, famous journalists with relevant experience, world biggest information agencies.

 

Appeal and motto of the Conference

If there was awareness in Babylon…

Officials, international organizations, information practitioners  and journalists for resilient planet Earth.

 

The one is informed is protected

 

Topics discussed: 

  1. Emergency and crisis information management guidelines of inter-governmental and international organizations;
  2. Public awareness new creative solutions and tools: disaster risk reduction  public awareness and social networks,  and new information technologies;
  3. World-known journalist’s memories, impressions and suggestions;
  4. Safety culture and kids: kids as main target group;
  5. Experiences, suggestions and recommendations on information exchange from emergency response agencies, risk reduction experts and jounalists


Results: 

  • Reports and materials presented during the conference, as well as photo and video materials will be published in one package;
  • An “emergency” network of journalists and specialists to  be created. The network will be used for forums, discussions, exchange of opinions and ideas, experience and expertise;
  • Emergency web portal to  be created to collect information on emergency management and public awareness best programs and initiatives (for example national  plans,  guidelines, and video-audio-electronic materials);
  • Suggestions for further work based on the analysis and experiences of experts.

 

The Conference confirms the outstanding role of public awareness for disaster risk reduction

Key messages of the Conference:

  • Accurate information is the cornerstone of effective management of emergency situations.
  • Information about emergency situations is for first pages and reports.
  • Information during emergency situations is like a food. It must be given on time and in proper portion.
  • A lack of information can be quickly filled with rumours and misinformation.
  • In emergency situations people may respond to different beliefs and rumours and not always to the official information from Government bodies.  It is necessary to gain the trust of population.
  • Emergency information can save lives and health, neutralize negative impact on territories and panic.

 

The Conference confirms its dedication to the objective and priorities of the Hyogo Framework of Action: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities (2005-2015).

  • Taking into account the importance of international cooperation andpartnerships, each State has the primary responsibility for its own sustainable developmentand for taking effective measures to reduce disaster risk, including for the protection ofpeople on its territory, infrastructure and other national assets from the impact of disasters.At the same time, in the context of increasing global interdependence, concertedinternational cooperation and an enabling international environment are required tostimulate and contribute to developing the knowledge, capacities and motivation needed to reduce risks of disaters  at all levels;
  • An integrated, multi-hazard approach to disaster risk reduction should befactored into policies, planning and programming related to sustainable development, relief,rehabilitation, and recovery activities in post-disaster and post-conflict situations indisaster-prone countries.

 

The Conference underlined that international and regional disaster risk reduction  cooperation must be expanded through following:

  • Transmission of disaster risk reduction experience, knowledge and technologies to help build capacities in-country.
  • Exchange research results, lessons learnt and  best practice.
  • Collect data (for example on loss and damages) which helps to assess risks and  inform on development policies to  reduce risks of disasters.
  • Identify hazards and vulnerability – physical, social, economical and environmental. Make steps for and plan for both a short-term and a long-term perspective.
  • Reducing disater risk and building resilience is an investment in the future. For example, investing in risk assessments and early warning systems actually saves  and protects lives, property and livelihoods. Such investments in the end save on the costs of disaster response and recovery.

 

The Conference outcomes directly connects to the the second (”identify, assess, and monitor disaster risks and enhance early warning”) and third (“use knowledge, innovation, and education to build a culture of safety and resilience at all levels”) of theHyogo Framework of Action.  The Conference also welcomes the consultations towards a new post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction.

 

The aim of the Conference  was to develop a vision for the  development and improvement of effective public awareness in  emergency situations.  The following suggestions and  recommendations were made to meet this aim:

 

  • Use  national risk atlas and databases to inform communities and to take disaster prevention measures and to develop local emergency response planning.
  • Share  and disseminate  best practice and experience in terms of communicating with population.
  • Activate works for using new technologies and new solutions/early warning systems, use of mobile phone and others.
  • Involve NGOs in public awareness activities.
  • Develop mechanisms for adapting international experience.
  • Consider and communicate the needs of national minorities in public information on disasters.
  • Focus on community-based disaster management.
  • Encourage  local knowledge;  strengthen the capacity of locals to prepare, inform and respond to disasters; and learn from local people.
  • Develop guidelines and training for the media to cover emergencies; and focus more on disaster risk reduction  issues.
  • Use more effectively the  information from the emergency management teams.
  • Identify  information technologies and a means for communication  “in one language”;
  • Promote, adopt and implement measures that ensure citizens’ participation in disaster risk management (e.g.  including  communities in the planning for building industrial establishments; and in the planning for emergency response).

Establishmore modes of communicating disaster information and public awareness (e.g. a TV channel,  a social network “Savebook”, expansion of available e-libraries with new publications)

  • Establish an award or  “Life-saving media” medal.
  • Establish a committee/body to oversee and build on the suggestions and recommendations.