New Global Initiative Seeks to Advance Disaster Preparedness

Towards A Safer World launched to capture lessons from pandemic preparedness to help disaster professionals better plan, coordinate and respond to all types of disasters

Rome, ITALY - May 10, 2011 — The United Nations System for Influenza Coordination (UNSIC) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) have organized a new global initiative, Towards A Safer World (TASW), dedicated to examining what has been achieved from preparing for an influenza pandemic over the past five years and inspire leaders to apply those lessons and best practices to continuing and emerging threats.

“Disaster preparedness is often an overlooked, underfunded, and under planned service that only gets attention when disaster strikes,” said Dr. David Nabarro (Senior UN System Coordinator for Avian and Human Influenza). “Towards A Safer World fills the critical need that exists to determine and develop tools and forums that can be of tangible use to the wider disaster management community and help to optimize the actual utilization and sustainability of the lessons we’ve learned over the last five years in responding to the threat of influenza pandemic.”

Towards A Safer World seeks to capture the achievements of the major efforts undertaken since 2005 as a reaction to the threats of global influenza pandemics. That response resulted in diverse actors collaborating and taking actions to prepare for and mitigate the potentially devastating disruption on the vital functions of society. TASW believes that this unprecedented level of multi-sector planning offers a unique opportunity to identify key elements that can advance all disaster preparedness activities.

Towards A Safer World is working to engage the broader disaster community in a dialogue around the most effective elements that can be adopted in any disaster preparedness effort. The initiative is preparing a series of reports documenting key achievements and lessons from pandemic preparedness organized around ten thematic areas: bio-security and animal health, civil-military coordination, communication, community-level preparedness, health, humanitarian assistance, logistics, private sector preparedness, travel and tourism and whole of government planning.

These reports will form the basis for a new online community forum organized by TASW – – where leaders, disaster managers and community planners from around the world can connect and collaborate on best practices, resources and challenges for disaster preparedness efforts.

The findings from these reports and the online discussions will be presented at a TASW conference at the World Food Programme - HQ in Rome, Italy on 15 – 16 September 2011, gathering participants from governments, UN agencies, technical and specialized agencies, NGOs, community-based organizations and private companies. This conference will serve as a working session to review, discuss and further explore the lessons and best practices most critical for future global disaster preparedness.

“The urgency of building national and local capacities for preparedness is well-recognized, yet systematic and predictable solutions to building those capacities have remained elusive,” stated Dr. Ron Waldman (Senior Technical Advisor, USAID). “Towards A Safer World is providing its analysis and organizing forums so that key actors from all critical sectors engage as a global community committed to adopting more effective and efficient preparedness efforts.”

About Towards A Safer World

Led by the United Nations System for Influenza Coordination (UNSIC) and implemented by representatives from the U.S. Agency for International Development, the World Food Programme, the World Health Organization, World Tourism Organization, and the Food and Agriculture Organization, Towards A Safer World will closely examine what has worked and what has not in disaster and pandemic preparedness and response since 2005, and design a guide/toolkit/process that will help disaster professionals and non-disaster experts in better planning, coordinating and responding to all types of disasters.

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Media Contacts:

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