Asia and Pacific UNISDR Informs/Lessons for a Safer Future

Lessons for a Safer Future:
Drawing on the experience of the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster
This Publication has been developed by United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction Asia & Pacific.

About UNISDR Regional Office for Asia & PacificEdit

With over 50% of the total world disasters, the Asia and Pacific Islands region represents the widest and most disaster prone continent in the world, beyond Africa, with a regular and increased frequency of typhoons, tsunamis, floods, droughts, fires and other natural hazards. Despite the wealth of expertise, knowledge and know-how in disaster risk reduction, the increasing population growth, widespread poverty, environmental degradation, rising pollution and wild human settlements keep increasing the vulnerabilities of most communities in Asia and the Pacific Islands, thereby creating a favorable terrain to allow the above natural hazards to transform invariably into devastating disasters wiping out all human lives and economic lifelines on their way, and setting back years of continued development efforts.

In December 2004, the tragic tsunami in the Indian Ocean has heightened the level of awareness of the communities in Asia and the Pacific about the importance of integrating disaster risk reduction into national development planning and reminded them of the need to work together in a coordinated manner to respond to the threat of disasters.

In that spirit, as a direct follow-up to the World Conference on Disaster Reduction (January 2005, Kobe, Japan) and at the request of the 168 UN Member States grouped together on the occasion, the UN/ISDR established a regional presence to cover the whole Asia and Pacific Islands region. The UN/ISDR regional Unit for Asia and the Pacific was set up in June 2005 in Bangkok, Thailand, hosted by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).

The UN/ISDR Asia & Pacific is currently divided into two separate bodies:

(i) A regional unit, based in Bangkok, Thailand, which covers the whole Asia and Pacific Islands region. It includes a Senior Regional Coordinator and a Regional Programme Officer, as well as two local support staff

(ii) A sub-regional liaison office for Central Asia, based in Dushanbe, Tajikistan and covering Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan, is coordinated by a Junior Professional Officer

Our MandateEdit

The core mandate of the UN/ISDR Asia & Pacific includes awareness-raising activities in disaster risk reduction, including the promotion of the World Disaster Reduction Campaign and the annual UN Sasakawa Award for Disaster Reduction, advocacy through policy formulation, the dissemination of guidelines to assist in the implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA), promote the establishment of national platforms for disaster risk reduction, enhance networking and partnership-building to contribute to an effective culture of safety and protection of all communities in the Asia and Pacific Islands region.

Three specific areas of focus have been identified to guide the work of the UN/ISDR Asia and the Pacific. They include:

(i) The promotion of the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA 2005–2015) throughout the whole Asia and Pacific Islands region and the forging of partnerships at the regional level to facilitate its implementation, with the effective operational support and expertise of members of the ISDR Asian Partnership on Disaster Reduction (IAP) and other relevant players.

(ii) The follow-up and strengthening of the projects carried out under the United Nations Flash Appeal for the Indian Ocean Tsunami Early Warning System (IOTWS), including an increased cooperation and coordination with relevant technical partners and the donor community. (iii) The development of an effective information management system with comprehensive databases, the maintenance of a regional website, the production of a bi-annual publication “Disaster Reduction in Asia and the Pacific - ISDR Informs”, the dissemination of regional highlights promoting regional partners’ initiatives and relevant events among other.

The UN/ISDR Asia and Pacific Islands works through a growing network of national platforms to mobilize governmental actions in disaster risk reduction as well as directly with the governments in the region, as mandated though the HFA, to assist them in identifying their priorities and in formulating their national action plan on disaster risk reduction towards its integration in national development plans. It also makes an effective use of regional partners’ networks at the national level, in particular the UN Country Team members, to facilitate the effective implementation of DRR strategies.

Introduction to the PublicationEdit

The report draws on the experiences of many organizations and individuals during and following the tsunami. The eleven lessons for a safer future are offered as a contribution to the ongoing process of learning how nations, communities and individuals can become better prepared for and reduce the risk of potential natural hazards.

Lessons for a Safer FutureEdit

  1. Public awareness is an essential element of preparedness for saving lives and livelihoods.
  2. Individuals and communities play important roles in managing risks from natural hazards.
  3. Diverse livelihood systems and micro-financial services help poor people to survive disaster events.
  4. Traditional knowledge is valuable and can inform and protect communities.
  5. Disaster knowledge should be included in formal education curricula.
  6. Early warning systems are needed for all hazards and all people.
  7. Land use planning and protection of ecological systems can reduce disaster risks.
  8. Developing and adhering to building codes can minimise risks and losses.
  9. Political and public commitment to reduce the risk of disasters is imperative.
  10. Humanitarian and development innovations are needed to reduce disaster risks.
  11. Natural hazards span borders and their management requires global cooperation.

Further InformationEdit

Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters (HFA)
Also contained in the Report of the World Conference on Disaster Reduction, A/CONF.206/6, 16 March 2005.
Available in English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic and Russian at web site

Living with Risk: A Global Review of Disaster Reduction Initiatives 2004 version, Inter-Agency Secretariat of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UN/ISDR), Geneva. 430pp.

Joint Evaluation of the International Response to the Indian Ocean Tsunami: Synthesis Report, John Telford and John Cosgrove, and Rachel Houghton,Tsunami Evaluation Coalition, July 2004, 176pp.
A synthesis of five detailed reports by the multi-stakeholder Tsunami Evaluation Coalition covering humanitarian coordination, needs assessment, impacts on local and national capacities, funding processes, and links from relief, rehabilitation and development.
See and

United Nations Office of the Special Envoy on Tsunami Recovery.
See for reports, press releases and other materials.

Lessons save life: Story of Tilly Smith and The power of knowledge: Story of a little boy from Semilieu, Indonesia, videos produced by UN/ISDR, 2005.
Available on CD as Video file in English at

ISDR-BIBLIO 1: Tsunami, UN/ISDR Library for Disaster Reduction, April 2006. ISDRBIBLIO
is a bibliographic compilation of publications available at the ISDR System Library and related to a specific hazard or aspect of disaster reduction.

More information and links concerning disaster risk reduction and the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction may be found at

Download the publicationEdit

You can download the complete publication from United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction- Asia Pacific

External LinksEdit