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SGI Joins Events at Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction

Q&A session at the March 15 symposium [© SGI-OPI]

From March 14 to 18, the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) was held in Sendai in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan.

The SGI co-organized two side events: one on March 15 focused on the contributions of faith-based organizations (FBOs) to disaster response, and one on March 16 highlighted the possibilities for increased collaboration in disaster management in Northeast Asia.

The March 16 event was titled "Strengthening Resilience in Northeast Asia through Cooperation for Disaster Risk Reduction [DRR]" and brought together a panel of civil society speakers from China, South Korea and Japan. Co-organizers were the Korea NGO Council for Overseas Development Cooperation, the China Association for NGO Cooperation and Next Stage Tohoku. The event was supported by the Japan NGO Center for International Cooperation and the Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat.

The March 15 event was a symposium titled "Community based DRR from a faith-based perspective--sharing best practices," held at the Sendai Civic Auditorium. It was co-organized by ACT Alliance and the SGI in cooperation with the Japan Religion Coordinating Project for Disaster Relief.

In his opening speech, Rev. John Nduna, general secretary of ACT Alliance, stated that the role of FBOs in DRR is not always recognized. Presentations were given by Soka Gakkai member Kimio Ohashi, a 71-year-old survivor of the March 11, 2011, Great East Japan Earthquake, and Rachel Kyozira of the Inter-Church Organization for Development Cooperation, an ACT Alliance member.

As an outcome document of the symposium, 13 FBOs issued a statement calling on governments to recognize the unique role of local faith communities and FBOs and to prioritize the engagement and collaboration of both in the implementation of the post-2015 framework on DRR.

On March 18, SGI Peace Affairs Program Director Kimiaki Kawai gave a presentation at the WCDRR's IGNITE Stage on the Soka Gakkai's relief efforts in Tohoku following the Great East Japan Earthquake. He highlighted the ability of FBOs to utilize their existing networks of communication and their local facilities in disaster response. He emphasized that the strengths and resources of FBOs could complement those of other DRR stakeholders.