Periperi U bringing the “Role of HEIs in advancing disaster risk knowledge” under spotlight at 2015 UN Conference in Japan

Periperi U is currently participating in the Third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, taking place from 14 – 18 March 2015 in Sendai, Japan.

The Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (UN WCDRR) brings together UN Member States, NGOs, IGOs, Industry leaders, Science and Technology sectors and Disaster Risk practitioners and researchers in a 4-day conference in Sendai, Japan. With one of its aims to complete the assessment and review of the implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005 – 2015 (HFA), the UN WCDRR presents a perfect platform to showcase and promote collaboration by practitioners, researchers and other stakeholders in Disaster Risk-related fields the world over.

As an International Centre of Excellence for Risk Education and Learning (ICoE-REaL), Periperi U joined the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU) as part of its delegation to the UN WCDRR, which attests not only to its standing in the Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) field, but also to the considerable influence and impact it makes in enhancing resilience across Africa.

The network comprises 11 dynamic African universities engaged in building local capacity in disaster risk practitioners (through more than 86 short courses and outreach initiatives which strengthen human capacity and reduce vulnerability), contributing to disaster risk scholarship (as evidenced by the more than 750 students enrolled in 21 academic programmes offered in the partnership) and building local context into publicised research (with over 150 research outputs in the form of various African and international journals in the past 10 years).

The 24-member Periperi U delegation will be attending pertinent sessions related to DRR throughout the four days, presenting at the Ignite Stage (a fifteen minutes interactive presentation to a moving audience at the UN WCDRR), and will co-chair a significant side event as part of the UN Conference proceedings.

According to Dr Ailsa Holloway, Director: Periperi U Secretariat at Stellenbosch University, participation in the 2015 UN WCDRR further underlines Periperi U’s status as an International Centre of Excellence in Risk Education and Learning (ICoE-REaL) and the global contributions that this partnership can make in risk education that extend well beyond Africa’s borders.

“Periperi U’s active presence and co-convening of a global public event at the UN WCDRR in Sendai represent the first time that there has ever been an identifiable African higher education presence in a global gathering in this field. It is also evidence of the consortium’s global stature, both as a source of robust risk scholarship and as a strategic risk reduction partner at national, continental and international scales. This signals a sea-change in the international visibility of Africa’s universities in researching and addressing the continent’s risks.”

One Public Forum session (a focused three-hour session during the UN WCDRR) is co-designed and co-chaired by Periperi U in collaboration with Asian University Network of Environment and Disaster Management (AUEDM). Thirteen speakers from Africa, Europe, Japan and China, the UK, the Caribbean and the Pacific regions will unpack the role of Higher Education Institutions in advancing disaster risk knowledge and building local risk capacity, a field that has seen a shift from responsive and reactive approaches in managing disasters to scholarship, education and proactive advances.

Representative of 11 African states, the impact of Periperi U’s presence at the UN WCDRR transcends the sharing of knowledge between stakeholders, to the further extension of the network’s reach and impact globally, equally elevating and strengthening the partner universities in the consortium.