May 19th, the 9th Session of UN High-level Experts and Leaders Panel on Water and Disasters, was held at the lecture hall of Sichuan University. The School of Post-Disaster Reconstruction and Management of the School organized this Session. The opening ceremony was addressed by Han Seung-soo, UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy on Disaster and Water Affairs, Chairman of the Water and Disaster High-level Expert and Leadership Group, and South Korea's former Prime Minister, Xie Heping, President of Sichuan University, Xie Hong, former Vice Chairman of the CPPCC of Sichuan Province, Melanie Shultz van Haegen, Minister of Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment of the Netherlands, Baski Hadimuljono, Minister of Ministry of Public Works and Housing of Indonesia, Masafumi Mori, Vice Minister of Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism of Japan, and Bambang Susantono, Vice President of Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development, Asian Development Bank. It was also participated in by Yan Shijing, Vice President of Sichuan University, heads of the School of Water Conservancy and Hydropower, the School of Post-Disaster Reconstruction and Management, the School of International Studies, and other related departments of Sichuan University, as well as the experts and scholars from the areas of water and disaster prevention and control worldwide. The opening ceremony was chaired by Han Seung-soo.
In his speech, Han Seung-soo reviewed the risk of water disaster faced by the world. He pointed out that along with rapid population growth and accelerating urbanization process, the globe is tortured by increasingly aggravated and frequent waster disasters with more intense impact and more extensive scope, which has become a big obstacle that hinders human from poverty eradication and sustainable development. In the face of this situation, the United Nations General Assembly in January 2017 adopted a resolution to identify the ten years from 2018 to 2028 as the International Decade for Action "Water and Disaster", and the United Nations launched a high-level expert group on water disaster and issued the "2023 Agenda". The theme of this meeting would provide more robust support and more effective suggestions for the forthcoming third session of the UN Water and Disaster Special Conference, organized by the UN Secretary-General and the UN General Assembly.
Xie Heping delivered a speech on behalf of Sichuan University, organizer of the conference. He pointed out that only the universities which raise concern about global hot issues can be given global attention to; only the universities that take their responsibility to tackle and solve major crisis endangering mankind can become world-class university leading the society and leading the future development of a nation as well as a country. With a goal to become a world-class university, Sichuan University has always been concerned about the world, the mankind and the future, and treating the resolution of global major disaster crisis and promotion of common progress of mankind as its obligatory duty and undertaking. From 1944 onwards, Sichuan University has been sticking to active explorations on water resources development and utilization, water disaster prevention, water environment protection and other aspects, and has made a series of achievements. President Xie claimed that, Sichuan University would actively participate in and promote the framework of International Decade for Action - "Water for Sustainable Development" discussed at this meeting, give full play to its own advantages in talent, discipline, scientific research and international cooperation platform, and commit itself to devoting SCU’s wisdom to innovative research of cutting-edge technologies on global water disaster prevention and mitigation, to providing SCU mode for training of international high-end professionals on disaster prevention and mitigation and major disaster crises management to international institutions, to making contributions to establishment of “Global University Alliance on Water and Disaster Research ”, and to offering the model of SCU for exploration and development of an interactive mechanism between world top universities and the response system against major disaster crises.
In his speech, Xie Hong stressed that Sichuan Province was one of the regions with the most abundant and concentrated geological and biological resources in China and even in the world, but also an area suffered from high incidence of various natural disasters. After the Wenchuan Earthquake, Sichuan, under the help of the whole country and the whole world, had realized a leap-forward development in many places and summed up a series of experiences in disaster and risk management. He hoped that Sichuan could integrate industry, teaching and research in a systematic way by relying on its multi-discipline advantages, and share its experience with the world, and contribute more to disaster risk control and mitigation.
Melanie Shultz van Haegen said in her address that the meeting of high-level experts and leadership on water and disaster played a very important role in disaster prevention and mitigation at the international level and the implementation of the human’s sustainable development goal, and needed to further improve its strategy and attract more countries and international institutions to participate in the action. After giving her opinion on climate migration issue, she looked forward to a better solution for a series of pressing problems brought about by climate migration, through the discussion of the 9th session of the Water and Disaster High-level Expert and Leadership Group Conference.
Basuki Hadimuljono focused on Indonesia's experience and practices in water disaster management. He indicated that, at the 8th session of the Water and Disaster High-level Expert and Leadership Group Conference held in Jakarta, Indonesia, the attendees discussed various dynamic mechanisms and forming factors of floods, and how to tackle flood-related water disasters through increasing input and financing. The first eight Water and Disaster High-level Experts and Leadership Group Conferences had been fruitful, and the 9th session held at Sichuan University would further broaden the global perspective. He expected, on this basis, that technical support would be beefed up to enhance the capacity of different regions to cope with droughts and floods caused by climate change, and sharing of technology and knowledge would be realized between different regions.
Masafumi Mori represented in his address that Japan, as a country frequently stricken by water disasters, had the world's fastest disaster response system and a complete ecosystem and industry system; it was always committed to supporting the work of the high-level expert and leadership group on water and disaster, and had joined the Sendai Disaster Reduction Framework; based on its experience of disaster prevention and mitigation over the years, Japan had formed a complete system of structural and non-structural interventions. Then he expressed his expectations that this international platform (Water and Disaster High-level Experts and Leadership Group Conference) could be leveraged to further share the experiences with the governments and relevant agencies, and build a flexible society with strong capacity in disaster prevention and mitigation.
On behalf of the Asian Development Bank, Bambang Susantono pointed out that the Asian Development Bank had been committed to strengthening input in water conservation in Asia and continuing to enhance the ability of local communities to prevent water disasters. He hoped that this conference could be exploited to offset asymmetry and disparity in knowledge and information between different regions.
After the opening ceremony, a series of discussions were carried out on such topics as water and disaster issues under the framework of International Decade for Action - "Water for Sustainable Development", the high-level expert and leadership group’s Action Strategy II, progress of Sendai disaster prevention and mitigation, 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the dialogue with HLPW and the 3rd UN Special Session on Water and Disaster within the framework of the High-Level Panel on Water Disasters (HLPW).
In the afternoon, relative sub forums were presided respectively by Ms. Melanie Shultz van Haegen, Minister of Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment of the Netherlands, Masafumi Mori, Vice Minister of Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism of Japan, Jerome Delli Priscoli, Chairman of the Global Water Partnership Technical Committee, Toshio Koike, Director of the International Center for Water Disaster and Risk Management, and Gretchen Kalonji, Dean of the School of Post-disaster Reconstruction and Management, Sichuan University The participating experts and scholars conducted thematic discussions on related subjects.