Press Releases

    30 August 2005

    Earthquake Engineers' Knowledge Essential for Establishing Building Standards, Secretary-General Tells Skopje Conference

    NEW YORK, 29 August (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of the message by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the International Conference on Earthquake Engineering in the 21st Century in Skopje, delivered on 27 August by Sálvano Briceño, Director, Secretariat of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction:

    It gives me pleasure to send my greetings to all the participants in this international conference.  For 40 years, the Institute of Earthquake Engineering and Engineering Seismology has carried out a vital mission of seeking to reduce the human consequences of seismic disasters.  The United Nations is proud to have contributed to the creation and development of the Institute, where many experts in the field have received valuable training and education.

    Today it is encouraging to know of your efforts to support implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action adopted earlier this year at the World Conference on Disaster Reduction in Kobe.  That framework was a landmark in the field.  It must now guide efforts by all countries as they work toward the internationally agreed goal of achieving a substantial decrease in the number of victims and affected communities by 2015.

    As earthquake engineers, you are instrumental in bringing scientific knowledge to bear on this global challenge.  You provide crucial technical knowledge and analysis, in order to help the world understand the costs and benefits of disaster reduction.  Your profession is also essential in establishing the design and quality standards for public infrastructure and urban development, and to ensure the integrity of much private housing.

    This conference is an opportunity to explore how the commitments made in Kobe can be made a reality.  As we already have good information about where the greatest seismic risks are around the world, I would particularly welcome your views on improved means of using that knowledge to create wider public awareness about protective measures that can be implemented locally.  I would also be interested in your suggestions for how the United Nations system can improve its support to your efforts, and how the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction might be strengthened to build national and regional capabilities for disaster reduction.

    Thank you for your wide-ranging contributions to our efforts to reduce the frequency and impact of disasters, and to our wider work of building safer, more resilient communities.  Please accept my best wishes for a successful conference.

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