Established in January 1996 by the United Nations Secretariat and directed by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), the United Nations Global Programme for the Integration of Public Administration and the Science of Disasters (UNGP-IPASD) facilitates the sharing of disaster-related information, data and experiences among scientists and administrators. The program builds on three pillars: (1) improvements in co-ordination and co-operation in government operations; (2) advances in anticipating the occurrence of natural disasters; and (3) public education in disaster awareness and preparedness.

While its goal is to reduce human suffering related to the incidence of natural disasters, the Global Programme also serves to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of public administration so that everyday routine, as well as disaster management functions are performed optimally. Both anticipation and management aspects are integrated in this program, in order to take advantage of scientific information on disasters and public administration capacity to respond such information with measured, effective strategies.

The UNGP-IPASD encourages the integration of applied natural sciences and public administration in order to significantly strengthen the capacity of local communities to assess and mitigate their immediate risk from natural disasters, particularly from earthquakes. Although natural events are often global in scope, it is said that "all disasters are local". By integrating international and local networks of scientists and administrators, a global monitoring network for disasters can be linked to the most operational level, that is, any community linked to the Internet.

Since its inception, the UNGP-IPASD has involved participants from Armenia, Brazil, China, Ecuador, India, Iran, Japan, Mexico, Mongolia, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Slovakia, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United States. Financial support has come from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the Foundation for Research and International Education relating to Natural Disasters (FRIEND), a not-for-profit NGO (non-government organisation) set up to fund program activities. The Programme's accomplishments and on-going activities include community pilot projects, regional conferences, publications and information-sharing activities.

Particularly noteworthy achievements are: (1) the UNGP-IPASD's facilitation in the early warning successes for the 1997 large earthquakes in Jiashi County, China and for the 1998 catastrophic floods in southern China; (2) research on best practices in public administration in natural disasters; (3) publications, including a practical handbook for communities seeking ways to reduce their vulnerability to large and sudden disasters, and (4) information-sharing through national and international workshops, as well as through the UNGP-IPASD Website.