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BDT Director's Speeches

High-level round table on ICTs for Disaster Management and ‎Risk Reduction Including Climate Change issues. Opening Remarks (English)
Doha, Qatar  07 December 2014






Excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen

It is my great pleasure and privilege to welcome all of you to this round table on Information and Communication Technologies for Disaster Management and Risk Reduction including Climate Change Issues.

First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to the government of Qatar for hosting us here in Doha and for the warm welcome extended to us.   Thank you.

Distinguished delegates,

As you all know, natural disasters are on the rise. The frequency and impact of disasters are on the increase across the globe. Statistics indicate, that between 2010 and 2012 more than 1.2 million lives were lost with 2.9 billion people affected. The economic loss was well over 1.7 trillion US dollars.

The impact of disasters has high economic, social and environmental costs and disasters pose extraordinary reconstruction challenges, notably in both developing and developed countries.

You all remember the tsunami that struck the coastal areas of Japan following the devastating earthquake in 2011 costing over 150 billion US dollars and cyclone Sandy, which hit the United States in 2012, with damages of approximately 65 billion US dollars. Economic losses from disasters since 2000 are in the range of $2.5 trillion dollars.

This shows that natural disasters can easily destroy decades of development work.  ‎

Ladies and gentlemen,

This high level round table today is very important, timely and relevant.  

The composition of this panel include high level policy makers, private sector, some of whom are our key partners in emergency telecommunications including Thuraya, Iridum and Inmarsat.  We also have good representation from academia.

It is timely because we just came from the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference (PP14) that was held in Busan last month, and the World Telecommunication Development Bureau (WTDC-14) which was held earlier this year, where resolutions concerning emergency telecommunications, disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation were adopted.

Many of you may be aware of the fact that when I took office in 2011, I launched an initiative known as Smart Sustainable Development Model (SSDM). The initiative seeks to link ICT4 Development and ICT4 Disaster Management activities. I am pleased to acknowledge the presence of His Excellency Mr. John Nasasira who is the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Smart Sustainable Development Model Initiative or SSDM.

The SSDM Board met yesterday. The first report they worked so hard to develop was launched and they also approved an Action Plan going forward.

At this juncture, I want to thank all our partners who have over the years supported ITU's work in emergency telecommunications. Most recently, the Japanese Government has made two generous contributions to ITU in this area. The first is their support to our work in response to the Ebola disease through a co-financing arrangement with ITU. While Japan contributed USD 180'000, ITU made a USD 200'000 contribution. Then, Japan also made a further in-kind contribution by donating a Movable and Deployable Resource Unit (MDRU) which is a system meant to ensure communications continuity when disasters strike. This is being deployed for testing in the Philippines with an official launch on 16 December 2014. 

Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,

As I conclude, I would like to assure you that ITU will continue to support countries in mitigating disasters through the integration of ICTs in disaster preparedness and response. ITU looks forward to playing an active role during the UN World Conference of Disaster Risk Reduction Conference to be held in March next year hosted by the Government of Japan.

I wish you fruitful deliberations.