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United Nations Environment Program Helps Minimize Disasters Through prepardeness

World Affairs

Open Eyes Opinion {source: UNEP}










Bangkok, 19 August 2015 – With industrialization progressing rapidly and climate change making extreme weather the new normal, more and more communities are threatened by potentially crippling disasters. A handbook launched today by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) helps countries minimize the health, environmental and economic costs of disasters through building preparedness and community awareness of the risks.

The updated second edition of the APELL Handbook: A process for improving community awareness and preparedness for technological hazards and environmental emergencies builds on the original publication of 1988, drawing on nearly three decades of experience in supporting resilient communities in more than 30 countries.

Headed by UNEP since 1986, the Awareness and Preparedness for Emergencies at Local Level (APELL) Programme was originally launched in response to a number of damaging industrial accidents, such as the ones in Bhopal, Mexico City or Basel.

Recent industrial and natural disasters – such as the ones in Tianjin, Fukushima or the Philippines – show that despite the scientific and technological progress and the development of risk and emergency management policies, the need for the APELL process is still current.

The updated edition of the APELL handbook provides guidance to help communities prevent loss of life, as well as health, property and environmental damage, regardless of the nature of the environmental emergency.

The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015 2030) adopted in March this year is the international community’s response to this challenge.

The new edition of the APELL Handbook developed by UNEP makes an important contribution to that process through providing strengthened guidance to three key stakeholder groups – industry, public authorities and community leaders – to engage in a participatory disaster risk reduction process.

APELL methodology, implemented in more than 30 countries, with some partnerships running for more than 20 years, aims at raising awareness, communicating and educating the community, and improving emergency preparedness planning in case of a disaster.

The APELL process consists of five phases aiming to engage stakeholders, understand the hazards and risks in a specific community and develop, implement, and maintain a preparedness plan. The revised handbook is illustrated with examples of best practices from countries that have successfully implemented the approach.

Based on this handbook, UNEP is organizing a series of train-the-trainer sessions, with the aim of increasing the APELL network worldwide.

The first session is taking place this week in Bangkok, for the Asia Pacific region, in cooperation with Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC). Kaveh Zahedi, Director of UNEP’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, and Shane Wright, Executive Director of ADPC, officially launched the new editions of the APELL handbook at the workshop attended by participants from 11 countries.

Two similar train-the-trainer sessions will take place in the Latin America and Caribbean region, and in Africa, by the end of the year.

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[photo credits: “Wat arun bangkok”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –]



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