The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) has launched an innovative new online e-learning platform to help countries in the region – the world’s most disaster prone – build their capacities to withstand, adapt to and recover from natural disasters.
The Geo-referenced Information Systems for Disaster Risk Management (Geo-DRM) portal offers state-of-the-art courses on space technology, along with Geographic Information System (GIS) applications for early warning and multi-hazard risk assessment.
United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP, Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, said the online Geo-DRM platform is part of ESCAP’s determination to advance regional implementation of the newly-adopted Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030.
“The main tenet of the Sendai Framework is that disaster risk reduction is an essential condition for achieving sustainable development,” explained Dr. Akhtar. “Over the past 45 years, natural disasters in Asia and the Pacific have affected 6 billion people, led to more than 2 million deaths and caused major economic losses totaling US$1.15 trillion.”
The online Geo-DRM portal combines socio-economic data with satellite imagery and other disaster-related data, providing the right information to the right people at the right time. It serves as an important tool to support evidence-based decision-making for disaster preparedness, response and impact assessment, from a single online platform.
Dr. Akhtar highlighted the critical role of regional organizations, such as ESCAP, in creating regional solutions to address disaster impacts at both local and national levels. This includes promoting real-time access to reliable data and the use of space-derived information, GIS, and information and communications technology.
“Disaster management requires a multi-disciplinary approach, collating and consolidating information from various sources,” she added. “Incorporating spatial data into existing socioeconomic data will help us to make more informed decisions, ultimately saving more lives.”
The platform enhances information exchange on applications, operation and policy developments in space technology and GIS applications. It also supports institutional strengthening and knowledge building by providing tools based on state-of-the-art learning design theory.
This form of online technical assistance and support has greater reach and is carbon neutral. It is also readily accessible – even in remote areas of the region.
As part of its commitment to support the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, ESCAP will continue to establish thematic online platforms related to innovative technology applications, in particular the effective use of ICT and space applications for disaster risk reduction.