B. Public Administration Contributions to Natural Disaster Reduction

The participants noted the important role of appropriate management of information in communities prone to natural disasters. Local governments play a key role in communicating simple, accurate, complete and timely information in order for communities to understand and mitigate the risk of natural disasters without panic or fear. With cooperative dialogue between scientists and administrators, scientific information can be incorporated into public administration activities relating to natural disaster reduction.

A strong, visible and participatory governmental programme in natural disaster reduction would increase public trust in governmental capacity to design and implement responsible activities to protect the lives and property of citizens in disaster-prone communities. Interactive communication between governments and citizens regarding both intent and action for disaster reduction is essential to this process.

1. Establish interdisciplinary committees, composed of scientists, engineers, public administrators and other professionals to collect, analyze, order and exchange scientific information on natural disaster trends and events on a regular basis, within and among jurisdictional levels. Meetings and reports of such committees demonstrate the coordination of public administration activities and scientific information.

2. Improve the decision-making capacity in national, regional and local governments concerning natural disaster reduction and comprehensive disaster management, through facilitating the exchange of timely, valid scientific information on natural disaster trends and events.

3. Promote more active participation of national, regional and local governments in cooperation with scientific communities concerning natural disaster trends and events Local governments should be encouraged to bring valuable perspective and sensitivity (including rural views) on local conditions necessary for understanding the phenomenon and dynamics of natural disaster reduction.

4. Within a natural disaster reduction framework, promote the active participation at all levels of government, as well as professional organizations, non-governmental and voluntary organizations, private sector businesses and community groups. Develop effective and efficient mechanisms of communication and coordination among local, regional and national authorities, appropriate international bodies, and non-governmental organizations in order to clarify their respective roles and responsibilities.

5. Promote comprehensive measures of planning that include risk assessment, loss estimation, relief processes, post-disaster reconstruction; and for earthquakes, seismic risk assessment and micro-seismic zoning. Comprehensive prevention requires a legal framework for disaster--resistant planning and building, which includes appropriate norms, codes and regulations for safe land-use, disaster-resistant building construction, based on professionally established hazard and vulnerability assessments, including special attention to issues of enforcement of codes, regulations and professional standards. Such a legal framework would include strict control of the siting of industrial, lifeline and other constructions that may contribute to the risk of natural disasters.

6. Develop international codes and manuals for disaster-resistant constructions, including retrofitting, by pooling expertise available in different parts of the world, and develop methodologies for enforcement of relevant codes of construction, particularly for developing countries, including through the sharing of experiences of various countries.

7. Develop rigorous studies of key natural disaster events as a basis to review and revise existing plans and to develop simulations to understand the phenomena of natural disasters. These simulations would include disaster operations exercises for governmental, private and non-profit/voluntary organizations.

8. Strengthen governmental communication and coordination to develop disaster mitigation, anticipation and response systems that collect, analyze and disseminate information on local vulnerabilities, changing conditions, resources and requirements for action.

9. Promote inclusion of the study of natural disasters in school curriculum at all levels of education systems, ranging from elementary schools to universities.

10. Promote natural disaster studies in universities and technical institutions, leading to the development of a discipline focused on natural disaster reduction.

11. Considering the science of disasters as a priority in national planning systems, advocate budgetary allocations in national and local budgets to support capacity building for policy makers, public administrators and front-line workers for disaster reduction.

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