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Friday, December 13, 2019

13th December

What happened this week?

The UN Climate Change Conference COP 25 (2 – 13 December 2019), took place under the Presidency of the Government of Chile with logistical support from the Government of Spain. SBSTA 51/ SBI 51 took place on 2-9 December 2019. The pre-sessional period is from 25 November - 1 December 2019. The conference is designed to take the next crucial steps in the UN climate change process. Following agreement on the implementation guidelines of the Paris Agreement at COP 24 in Poland last year, a key objective is to complete several matters with respect to the full operationalization of the Paris Climate Change Agreement..Read more

Interesting Facts

COP25: Stop the climate emergency - and step up investment in adaptation and risk reduction. GNDR members and secretariat staff are attending the yearly United Nations Climate Change Conference on 2-13 December 2019 in Madrid. We’ll be advocating for an increase in funding for resilience building at the local level, and greater involvement of at-risk communities in decision-making. Governments must take action to mitigate climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But mitigation initiatives can’t be the only solution. We need to adapt to the consequences of climate change and address current and potential loss and damage - not only by transferring the risk via insurance but by taking action to reduce risk ..Read more

Q&A: How to connect the data dots on climate loss and damage. The battle over new funding for disaster damages continues to be divisive as diplomats finished a grueling final week of negotiations at the COP25 climate summit in Madrid. In the lead-up to the yearly UN climate meetings, vulnerable countries and advocates set their sights on securing new commitments on so-called “loss and damage” financing to address mounting damages from climate-linked disasters... Read more

Climate Impacts Require ‘Disaster-Resilient’ Farming - UN. Accelerating climate change impacts mean that farmers around the world need to adopt "disaster-resilient" farming practices to grow adequate food for growing populations. This is a crucial finding of a new report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). According to the UN, 91% of all disasters between 1998 and 2017 were caused by floods, storms, droughts, heatwaves, and other extreme weather events. Such events are becoming more frequent and intense and with growing impacts on food security... Read more

Policy Developments and Outlook

Investing in Natural Gas: Options for Resilient and Flexible Power Systems in Latin America. Fossil fuels, especially oil and gas, have fueled global economic development for more than 150 years, and are currently the world's primary energy source. Across the Western Hemisphere, the electricity sector is undergoing rapid change. Natural gas production and consumption are increasing because it serves as a flexible, reliable, and affordable source of power... Read more

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Special Edition International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Commemorating the International Day of Persons with Disabilities

This special edition conforms to the recommendations pertaining to the Digital Accessibility Toolkit for electronic communication. In this edition we removed the full justification from the text. We used built-in headings and styles, added more contrast for text and background colors, and used an alternative font (Times New Roman) and font size (12-point). Also we provided alternative text for most non-text elements, and a meaningful hyperlink text instead of ‘read more’. 

Why It Matters 

Large blocks without a justified text and a more accessible font can positively impact readability for someone with dyslexia. Also an adequate size and better contrast help users with low vision, color-blindness or when viewed on a black and white screen. People who use screen readers sometimes scan a list of links, the links should convey clear and accurate information about the destination.

World report on disability. About 15% of the world's population lives with some form of disability, of whom 2-4% experience significant difficulties in functioning. The global disability prevalence is higher than previous WHO estimates, which date from the 1970s and suggested a figure of around 10%. This global estimate for disability is on the rise due to population ageing and the rapid spread of chronic diseases, as well as improvements in the methodologies used to measure disability...  World report on disability.

Including Children with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action.
Worldwide, one in every 10 children has a disability – and the proportion is even higher in areas with armed conflict or disasters. Children and adults with disabilities are among the most marginalized people in any community affected by crisis. To make matters worse, they often are excluded from humanitarian assistance. But while crises put children with disabilities at risk, they can also create opportunities. Damaged buildings and infrastructure can be rebuilt better and more accessible than before. UNICEF has developed guidance to help make sure that children and adolescents with disabilities are included in all stages of humanitarian action – from preparing for emergencies to recovering from them..Including Children with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action.

Hikmat and Abdullah are best friends – Zaatari refugee camp, Jordan

Making 'reasonable adjustments’ to help those living with disabilities to enjoy life to the fullest, while contributing with their special abilities. Two non profits whose mission is to empower people with disabilities:


We Elevate The Quality Of Life For Individuals Living With Limited Mobility By Empowering Them To Train For And Participate In Mainstream Running Events.

Athletes Serving Athletes Logo

TEAM 360 is a non profit organization that provides motivation and support to people of different abilities, empowering and enabling them to train and participate in mainstream athletic events.

TEAM 360 Logo 

Interesting Facts

People with disabilities are being included in emergency drills — and exposing big flaws. More than 150 people from more than two dozen agencies took part in the Glen Rock drill, including police from Ridgewood, Hawthorne, Fair Lawn and the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office. They stormed the train playing the roles of good guys and bad guys while fire and EMS crews prepared to help mock victims. Leotis Sanders, chief of civil rights and diversity program at NJ Transit, said these exercises are a vehicle for learning how to adapt. Verbal commands won’t help someone with a hearing impairment find an exit on a smoke-filled train. Opening train doors as an escape route won’t help mobility-challenged riders get out of harm’s way. Planners are noting these kinds of details with each new drill..People with disabilities are being included in emergency drills — and exposing big flaws.

A group of people with and without disabilities in an emergency drill 

Emergency Preparedness for individuals with Disabilies. Recent disasters across the nation highlight the lack of critical community-based planning for people with disabilities and aging population. Ensuring individuals and emergency personnel are prepared prior to a disaster is recognized by FEMA and state and local officials as a key to community resilience. The emergency planning process requires accurate and comprehensive information by seasoned experts and is essential to the implementation of a successful plan. Learn how to keep yourself safe when disaster strikes... Emergency Preparedness for individuals with Disabilies. 

Emergency Evacuation Planning Guide for People with Disabilities. The NFPA Emergency Evacuation Planning Guide for People with Disabilities has been developed with input from the disability community to provide general information on this important topic. In addition to providing information on the five general categories of disabilities (mobility impairments, visual impairments, hearing impairments, speech impairments, and cognitive impairments), the Guide outlines the four elements of evacuation information that occupants need: notification, way finding, use of the way, and assistance. Also included is a Personal Emergency Evacuation Planning Checklist that building services managers and people with disabilities can use to design a personalized evacuation plan. Emergency Evacuation Planning Guide for People with Disabilities. 

Guide's front cover 

Readiness Workshop for People with Disabilities and the Access and Functional Needs Community ST. CROIX, U.S. Virgin Islands – The Governor’s Office, the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) led a Readiness and Resilience Workshop for People with Disabilities and the Access and Functional Needs Community in Christiansted... Readiness Workshop for People with Disabilities and the Access and Functional Needs Community

Johanna Renzi assists Gerard Evelyn with creating a family communications plan

Policy Developments and Outlook

The United Nations Disability Inclusion Strategy, provides the foundation for sustainable and transformative progress on disability inclusion through all pillars of the work of the United Nations: peace and security, human rights, and development. The Strategy enables the UN system to support the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and other international human rights instruments, as well as the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, the Agenda for Humanity and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction....The United Nations Disability Inclusion Strategy, 

Guidelines: Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action. These guidelines set out essential actions that humanitarian actors must take in order to effectively identify and respond to the needs and rights of persons with disabilities who are most at risk of being left behind in humanitarian settings... Guidelines: Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action.

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The purpose of the present Convention is to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity. Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others... Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

26th November

What happened this week?

What Does Flash Drought Look Like in Your Region? The overall goal of the research was to explore seasonal characteristics of flash droughts within the growing season, which runs primarily from March or April to October, and how they vary across the United States. Specifically, the analysis focused on quantifying the timing, intensity, preceding conditions, and the likelihood of persistence of flash drought to hydrological drought. To quantify the regional characteristics of flash drought events, the study focused on nine climate regions across the United States grouped by their climatologically similar characteristics. ..Read more

Interesting Facts

Types of drought. Research in the early 1980s uncovered more than 150 published definitions of drought. The definitions reflect differences in regions, needs, and disciplinary approaches. Wilhite and Glantz categorized the definitions in terms of four basic approaches to measuring drought: meteorological, hydrological, agricultural, and socioeconomic. The first three approaches deal with ways to measure drought as a physical phenomenon. The last deals with drought in terms of supply and demand, tracking the effects of water shortfall as it ripples through socioeconomic systems..Read more

Drought leaves Chilean growers in limbo. Almost 90 percent of Chilean fruit producers believe they face a fragile or unsustainable future because of the drought affecting large swathes of the country, according to a survey by fruit producer federation Fedefruta. The survey, entitled ‘Impact of Drought on Chilean Fruit Production’, was created to assess the perception of growers in the country’s main fruit-producing regions. Releasing the results last week, Fedefruta said it had collected 375 responses from growers from Atacama to Los Lagos..Read more

Long-Term Drought Parches Chile. Central Chile, where most Chileans live, has received 30 percent less rainfall than normal over the past decade, a situation that scientists are referring to as “megadrought.” With rainfall deficits of 80 to 90 percent, 2019 has been particularly. The map above depicts the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), a measure of the health and greenness of vegetation based on how much red and near-infrared light it reflects... Read more

What Panama’s Worst Drought Means for Its Canal’s Future. A severe drought in Panama has resulted in lower water levels in the Panama Canal, forcing some shippers to limit the amount of cargo their largest ships carry so they can safely navigate the waterway. “The last five months have been the driest dry season in the history of the canal,” said Carlos Vargas, the Panama Canal Authority’s executive vice president for environment, water, and energy... Read more

Policy Developments and Outlook

Migration in Central America and the Case of the Northern Countries. Poverty is indeed a crucial driver, particularly in Honduras and Guatemala, where it affects about 70% of the overall population. Environmental or climatic factors are also playing an increasingly central role in increasing migration flows. In the past few decades, northern CA countries were in fact hit by hurricanes, earthquakes, and drought, increasing the vulnerability of the population (especially in rural areas). The rural poor are the most vulnerable to economic, political and even environmental crises due to the very high levels of vulnerability of the agricultural sector. They represent 82% of the population in Honduras, 77% in Guatemala and 49% in El Salvador. Moreover, about 34% of the labor force in Guatemala and Honduras works in agriculture. Read more

In Honduras, Communities Fight Drought With Watershed Work. “The purpose of the Dry Corridor Alliance is to reduce poverty in the Dry Corridor region through the implementation of three components: focus on agriculture productivity, watershed management, and food security,” said Marco Tulio Mejia, a technical field officer with the alliance. “All of that is linked to one fact, which is the water.”... Read more

Latin America and the Caribbean’s Drought Atlas. The occurrence of droughts in Latin America and the Caribbean has had devastating impacts on vulnerable communities in the region, generating severe social, economic and environmental impacts when they extend over time. Therefore, knowing the recurrence of these events is essential to be able to anticipate these threats and to put concrete policies and measures to address them... Read more

Friday, November 15, 2019

Special Edition: From relief to development

International cooperation on humanitarian assistance in the field of natural disasters, from relief to development - Report of the UN Secretary-General. The present report is submitted under General Assembly resolution 73/136, in which the Assembly requested the Secretary-General to continue to improve the international response to natural disasters and to report thereon to the Assembly at its seventy-fourth session. The period covered in the report is 1 January to 31 December 2018. The report provides an overview of progress made in this regard and outlines related trends, challenges, and thematic issues. It concludes with recommendations for further improvements... Read more.

Strengthening Disaster Preparedness in the Caribbean. Disaster preparedness and management agencies are using better tools and improving their effectiveness in every country in the region. But Dorian has shown us that adapting to climate change also requires a concerted response from the international development community, since the scale of preparedness, relief, recovery and rebuilding efforts countries and communities need to carry out are beyond the scope of national and regional budgets....Read more.

Interesting Facts

Danger still lingers two years after Colombia's deadly Mocoa landslide. Two years after a mudslide that killed more than 300 people in the Colombian rainforest town of Mocoa, local authorities are struggling to get the funds to resettle tens of thousands of residents living in areas at risk of flooding. Torrential rains on March 31, 2017, triggered a deadly torrent of mud, debris, and rocks, and caused rivers to burst their banks, washing away entire neighborhoods...Read more.

The earthquake of September 19th in schools in Mexico City.
Three weeks after the earthquake, the authorities of four Regions (Juarez, San Lorenzo Tezonco, San Miguel Teotongo, and Centro) summoned the school supervisors to meet. The first proposal given by the government was to install prefabricated classrooms, but days later the authorities reported that there were no resources for it and that they should seek other solutions ...Read more.

How an Architect Who Designs ‘Half-Houses’ Rebuilt a City. Elemental was asked to devise a rebuilding plan for the city in 100 days, working alongside engineers and consultants. Half-houses were built, but later on; first came a robust (though compressed) public dialogue that changed assumptions about what “disaster recovery”...Read more.

How the Waste and Recycling Industry Prepares for Natural Disasters. When a natural disaster is on its way, the first thing haulers and municipal solid waste (MSW) departments do is put safety first. From checking in with employees to alerting local communities of safety tips and service changes, precautions are taken to prepare not only waste and recycling industry workers but the members of communities that may be affected by natural disaster-related dangers and service disruptions...Read more.

Policy Developments and Outlook

FONDEN: Mexico’s National Disaster Fund Every year, federal and state governments in Mexico spend close to US$1.5 billion on the reconstruction of public assets and low-income housing after natural disasters. In 2010 alone, major floods required over US$5 billion, mostly for local assets. In response to the continued need for ex-post budget reallocations, the Government of Mexico (GoM) established the Fund for Natural Disasters (FONDEN) in 1996. Its original mandate was to provide adequate financial resources for federal and state reconstruction efforts without compromising committed government spending...Read more.

Climate Disasters Are Getting Worse. Here's How Developing Countries Are Insuring Against Them. To help countries cope with disaster, new tools have emerged over the last decade, including sovereign parametric insurance. Though currently underutilized, this kind of insurance has a key role in helping countries manage the risk of climate-related and other disasters, particularly when the risk is pooled among many nations. Climate disasters will happen—the only question is whether developing countries will have the tools they need to recover and rebuild, ideally with greater resilience...Read more.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Special Edition World Tsunami Awareness Day


About World Tsunami Awareness Day. In 2019, the World Tsunami Awareness Day will promote Target (d) of the "Sendai Seven Campaign" which focuses on reducing disaster damage to critical infrastructure and disruption of basic services. Over 700 million people live in low-lying coastal areas and Small Island Developing States exposed to extreme sea-level events including tsunamis (IPCC).. Read more

Onagawa's spirit of togetherness: lessons from the 2011 tsunami The date for the annual celebration was chosen in honour of the Japanese story of Inamura-no-hi, or the “burning of the rice sheaves”. The story comes from an earthquake that shook the region in 1854, when a farmer set fire to his entire harvest to warn villagers of the tsunami when he saw the tide receding. The villagers fled to higher ground and later planted trees as an embankment for the future.. Read more

World Tsunami Awareness Day. Tsunamis are rare events, but can be extremely deadly. In the past 100 years, 58 of them have claimed more than 260,000 lives, or an average of 4,600 per disaster, surpassing any other natural hazard. The highest number of deaths in that period was in the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004. Read more

Interesting Facts

What are Tsunamis?. Tsunamis are ocean waves triggered by large earthquakes that occur near or under the ocean, volcanic eruptions, submarine landslides, and by onshore landslides in which large volumes of debris fall into the water. Scientists do not use the term "tidal wave" because these waves are not caused by tides. Tsunami waves are unlike typical ocean waves generated by wind and storms, and most tsunamis do not "break" like the curling, wind-generated waves popular with surfersx... Read more

How large can a tsunami be in the Caribbean?. "It's been a long time since a big earthquake and tsunami have hit the region, but almost 3500 people have lost their lives in the past 500 years from tsunamis in the Caribbean," said von Hillebrandt-Andrade. "The vulnerability is just huge because so much of our population and infrastructure is located right along the coast.".... Read more

Historical Tsunamis Worldwide. The list below shows a selection of major tsunamis with notable scientific or cultural impact that have happened in recorded history... Read more

Policy Developments and Outlook

DNR Releases New Maps to Help Residents Walk to Tsunami Safety. “We’ve seen around the world how devastating tsunamis are for coastal communities,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, the elected official who leads DNR. “In the event of a tsunami, nothing is more important than knowing where to go to be safe and how long it will take to get there. That is why Department of Natural Resources’ geologists are making this life-saving information easily accessible for everyone who lives, works or plays along Washington’s coast.”... Read more

EDUCATIONAL MATERIAL: Earthquake and tsunami textbooks and teacher guides, The tsunami textbooks are divided into four levels. Pre-Elementary school, 2nd to 4th grade, 5th to 8th grade and High School. These levels correspond to the school levels found in Chile: the first level is similar to pre and kindergarten, the second and third level correspond to the first eight years of school and the fourth level to High School. Each text book has its own teacher guide. Read more

Friday, November 1, 2019

November 1st, 2019

What happened this week?

Longer, More Frequent Fire Seasons. new analysis of 35 years of meteorological data confirms fire seasons have become longer. Fire season, which varies in timing and duration based on location, is defined as the time of year when wildfires are most likely to ignite, spread, and affect resources. In the map above, areas where the fire season lengthened between 1979 and 2014 are shown with shades of orange and red. Areas where the length of the fire season stayed the same are yellow. Shades of blue show where the fire season grew shorter. Gray indicates that there was not enough vegetation to sustain wildfires...Read more.

Interesting Facts

Is Earth on fire? Wildfires have been making headlines again this month, with multiple fires burning in Lebanon and California, but these are just some of the many fires 2019 has seen. Fires in the Amazon sparked a global outcry this summer, but fires have also been blazing in the Arctic, France, Greece, Indonesia as well as many other areas in the world. Quantifying and monitoring fires is important for the ongoing study of climate because they have a significant impact on global atmospheric emissions, with biomass burning contributing to the global budgets of greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide.... Read more

A Forest Expert Team In Spain Fights Fire With Fire — Literally. Fires in California and the Amazon rainforest have grabbed attention, but large areas of Europe's forests also were consumed this summer. Blazes nearly the size of the one in Catalonia tore through Spain's Canary Islands, the south of France and the Greek islands of Evia and Samos. 
"We need to learn to live with fire, the same way we do with tornadoes or snowstorms", says Marc Castellnou, chief analyst for a special forest unit of Catalonia's fire services, known by its Catalan initials GRAF... Read more

What California Stands To Learn From Indigenous Fire Management Practices. For 13,000 years, many Indigenous tribes, including the Hupa, Karuk, Miwok, and Yurok lit controlled fires across northern and central California. This created a mosaic of habitats with a high diversity of species that California is known for today. Through multiple progressions of these practices, many species, such as acorns and huckleberries became associated with these deliberate, low-intensity fires. Despite their fire resistance, they are ill-equipped to tolerate the high-intensity nature of modern wildfires in California... Read more

Policy Developments and Outlook

Fire in Yellowstone. Fire has been a key factor in shaping the ecology of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Native plant species evolved adaptations so they survive and, in some cases, flourish after periodic fires. Fire influences ecosystem processes and patterns, such as nutrient cycling and plant community composition and structure. Fire regimes in the western United States changed with the arrival of European and American settlers, whose livestock removed grassy fuels that carried fires and whose roads fragmented the continuity of fire-carrying fuels. Most naturally occurring fires were suppressed to the extent possible. The National Park Service aims to restore fire’s role as a natural process in parks when and where this is feasible... Read more

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Special Edition on Risk Management: Science, Data & Technology

A New View of Disaster Risk and Reduction: An Interview with Roger Pulwarty, Senior Scientist at NOAA. The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction recently released the fifth edition of the Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction (GAR19). The report highlights the increasingly complex interaction between hazards, and provides an update on how risk and risk reduction are understood in practice. GAR19 also highlights how the latest Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) framework integrates into global goals such as the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. To better understand the scope and significance of this report, New Security Beat sat down with Roger Pulwarty, Senior Scientist at NOAA, and a lead author of the GAR19... Read more.

Countries need to understand risk better for climate adaptation and resilience, says GFCS Head. Understanding of hazards, frequency, intensity and potential impacts is crucial for preparedness and long term development plans,” said the GFCS Director... Read more.

Interesting Facts

Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction (GAR19). Every two years, the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) works with thinkers, practitioners, experts and innovators to investigate the state of risk across the globe: highlighting what’s new, spotting emerging trends, revealing disturbing patterns, examining behaviour, and presenting progress in reducing risk. The findings make up the 2019 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction (GAR2019)... Read more.

AI Competition for Disaster Response in the Caribbean Is Live. Azavea partnered with the World Bank and WeRobotics to create a dataset of aerial drone imagery of buildings across the Caribbean annotated with characteristics that matter to building inspectors. Many parts of the Caribbean contain houses and buildings that are not up to modern construction standards. Residents of these areas are especially vulnerable to risk from natural disasters... Read more.

Policy Developments and Outlook

Managing climate and disaster risk in fragile states. It is encouraging to see that over the last few years the political mood has shifted. Countries such as Sweden, Germany, UK and Netherlands are actively investing in studies and programmes that look at the impact of climate change and disaster in conflict affected states. The Global Assessment Report 2019 (GAR19) also has section on the need to increase investments in addressing climate change and disaster risk in fragile countries. Failure to do so is entirely compromising the global ambition to achieve the Sendai Framework, and especially Target E, which we need to hit by 2020. This growing consensus will hopefully drive more research on the impact that DRR and climate change adaption have on conflict prevention... Read more.

Strengthening Climate Risk Finance in the Caribbean for Rapid Assistance in Emergencies. WFP’s Caribbean Risk Financing Strategy aims to ensure that the most vulnerable populations in the Caribbean are better protected through social protection systems that are more shock-responsive due to predictable, rapid and flexible financing... Read more.

How big data assists in disaster relief and preparedness. Historically, public policies have proved ineffective in providing adequate help for disaster-stricken citizens. A year after hurricane Harvey in 2017, for example, residents are still in the midst of recovery despite $15.3 billion earmarked for relief efforts. With the emergence of new innovations, one wonders if legislators should give more thought to incorporating Big Data technologies into aiding in disaster prediction and relief... Read more.