18 May 2015, 12:18

Regional Meeting of Practitioners in Disaster Risk Reduction from 20 Countries opens in Belgrade

The four-day meeting of practitioners in disaster risk reduction, which is hosted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) opened today in Belgrade.

Experts in disaster risk reduction from twenty countries and territories from the regions of Eastern Europe, the Western Balkans, the Caucasus and Central Asia, gathered in Serbia given the extensive and successful experience gained during and after last year's catastrophic floods, but also in earlier disasters such as the earthquake in the city of Kraljevo.

The meeting participants and media representatives at the opening ceremony were greeted by Marko Blagojevic, Director of the Government Office for Reconstruction and Flood Relief, Ambassador Dragan Zupanjevac, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia and Irena Vojackova – Sollorano, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Serbia.

"Last year's floods left a strong impression on the public, but this meeting is an opportunity to remind us of the fact that catastrophic natural disasters, from which we suffer including earthquakes and droughts can cause enormous damage. We have again an example of a very bad phenomenon of hail a few days ago, and even a tornado in the area of Lazarevac, which has never happened before "said Marko Blagojevic, highlighting the fact that "despite the huge efforts and resources invested in the reconstruction after last year's floods, it is equally important to hold the attention of all social actors and international development partners in the process of learning about different risks that we as a society are exposed to, and adequate preparation for future disasters, to protect existing investments and minimize the future impact on our development".

Whitin the meeting, experts will not only stay in Belgrade but will also visit various municipalities, where the representatives of local governments will have the opportunity to exchange experiences in disasters risk reduction programmes.

Irena Vojackova – Sollorano, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Serbia underlined the importance of working together in a spirit of multi-sectoral partnership “because the overall resilience of society depends on the empowerment of organizations and individuals at all levels, both national and local, as in all sectors, public, civil and private as well."