National | World Bosai Forum Special

Event to explore media's role in public education

by Kanayo Kousaka

Secretary-general, World Bosai Forum Foundation

Renowned experts in disaster risk reduction from all over the world will attend the World Bosai Forum, but the keynote speech will be given by a young girl who is a survivor of the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

Despite the difficulties she has faced in life so far, she has stood up with strong determination to help develop a disaster-resilient society. It is one’s will that changes society and she is a good example.

The main body of the World Bosai Forum 2019 consists of 90-minute sessions where various organizations share practical solutions concerning disaster risk reduction. There are approximately 60-plus such sessions, and 30 of these are organized by academia, followed by 13 private sector, 10 governmental, and eight international organizations, including United Nations agencies, and a few other nongovernmental organizations and media.

According to the subtheme of the forum, “Global Target E” of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, which is due 2020, the Japan International Cooperation Agency is organizing a thematic session to identify concrete ways to implement this target. It is envisaged that the forum will include a special message from Mami Mizutori, a Special Representative of U.N. Secretary-General on Disaster Risk Reduction.

Several sessions, in particular on Sunday, Nov. 10 and presented by several organizations, including the city of Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture; Tohoku University; and the Tohoku Regional Bureau of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, among others, focus on the spirit of better rebuilding. These sessions will share the current situation and challenges faced in Tohoku and its recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

How to pass down experience and lessons learned about such disasters is one of the focuses. Fukushima-related issues will be covered in two such sessions. Media perspectives are a key in advancing a disaster risk reduction agenda; not only during emergencies, but also during nondisaster periods as they have great potential to educate people, especially in Japan.

The power of youth is stressed by a UNESCO session. The importance of education and raising public awareness in disaster risk reduction will be highlighted in sessions organized by Miyagi University of Education, Tokyo University, and the University of the Philippines at Diliman. This theme will also be addressed in a featured session jointly organized by Tohoku University, Iwate University and Fukushima University from tsunami-affected areas with the presence of their presidents for the first time since 2011.

The role of media before, during, and after such disasters is captured in sessions organized by NHK World and Kahoku Shimpo.

The application of advanced science and technology to disaster risk reduction is crucial. Several sessions will cover this topic, encompassing information and communications technology, drone technology, artificial intelligence, satellite and remote sensing. Among them, a session organized by Optage Inc. proposes a revolutionary method to reduce earthquake damage.

How to cope with climate change is presented by Pacific Consultants and the Typhoon Committee.

The role of the private sector in disaster risk reduction will be discussed in a session led by Japan Tobacco, an active supporter of recovery in Tohoku.

Regarding linkage to the U.N.’s sustainable development goals, at least two sessions will focus on an inclusiveness agenda, namely, gender and disability. A session on the roles of various organizations for disaster risk reduction also contributes to this agenda. We look forward to your participation in Sendai.

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