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

The Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (UN WCDRR) brought 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. The UN WCDRR presented a platform to showcase and promote collaboration by practitioners, researchers and other stakeholders in Disaster Risk-related fields the world over.

As an IRDR 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 attended pertinent sessions related to DRR throughout the four days; presented at the Ignite Stage (a fifteen minutes interactive presentation to a moving audience at the UN WCDRR); and  co-chaired a significant side event as part of the UN Conference proceedings.

“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,” said Dr Ailsa Holloway, Director of PeriPeri U.

One Public Forum session (a focused three-hour session during the UN WCDRR) was 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 unpacked 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.

In 2014, the director of the IRDR ICoE for Risk Education and Learning (IRDR ICoE-REaL), Ailsa Holloway of Stellenbosch University ion South Africa, had prepared, as part of IRDR’s contributions and background research for GAR 2015: Holloway, Ailsa. 2014. Strategic mobilization of higher education institutions in disaster risk reduction capacity-building: Experience of Periperi U. Input Paper prepared for the 2015 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction. Geneva, Switzerland: UNISDR).