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Experts in Water and Disasters Featured Presenters at Workshop
Dec 9th, 2004

Since 1996, the number of water-related disasters (floods and droughts) that have occurred in the world has more than doubled. In the future, the world will be facing more severe water-related events due to climate change and escalating climate variability, meaning that proactive disaster risk management strategies will become an increasingly important part of prevention activity worldwide.

The Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction at The University of Western Ontario is bringing together some of the world’s leading researchers, policy and decision-makers for its International Workshop: Water and Disasters, on Monday, December 13, and Tuesday, December 14, 2004.

Nearly 100 participants from Canada, Germany, Venezuela, Japan, Australia, Austria, Nigeria, France, Ghana and Jamaica will share knowledge and expertise about international, national and local initiatives aimed at minimizing the negative impacts of water-related disasters. Presenters include representatives of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), UN University and other international and national organizations responsible for mitigation of water-related disasters.

Slobodan P. Simonovic, Chair, Engineering, of the ICLR, and conference host says, “ICLR is pleased to have a notable gathering of international experts at our event such as Dr. Andras Szollosi-Naggy, Deputy Director General of UNESCO and participants from three major UN organizations. The goal of the conference is to jointly produce a document which I will present to a World Conference on Disaster Reduction in Kobe, Japan in January 2005.”

In addition, conference participants will produce an analytical report to address conclusions relevant to the international and Canadian context with recommendations as to what actions should be taken in Canada and internationally. The documents generated by the International Workshop: Water and Disasters will go a long way toward shaping international strategy and action.

Paul Kovacs, Executive Director, ICLR says, “2004 is the International Year of Water Disasters. World wide, there is a shortage of effective disaster preparedness and mitigation methods. Appropriate risk-mitigation investment, and the redirection of resources into prevention offers significant benefits as well as reduction in loss of life and personal property.”

The workshop, to be held at the Spencer Conference Centre in London, has received support from the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme, the United Nations University, the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, the International Flood Network, the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority, Infrastructure Canada, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada, and The University of Western Ontario.

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Media Contacts:

Christine Roulston, Communications & Public Affairs, The University of Western Ontario, at (519) 661-2111 ext. 85165 or

Denise Jetten, Manager, External Relations, ICLR at (416) 364-8677 ext. 3216 or

To learn more about water and hydrological disasters and other natural hazards as well as ways that you can protect yourself, your family and your property, please visit the ICLR web site -

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Established in 1998 by Canada's property and casualty insurers, ICLR is an independent, not-for-profit research institute based in Toronto and at The University of Western Ontario in London, Canada. ICLR is a centre of excellence for disaster loss prevention research and education. ICLR's research staff is internationally recognized for pioneering work in a number of fields including wind and seismic engineering, atmospheric sciences, water resources engineering and economics. Multi-disciplined research is a foundation for ICLR's work to build communities more resilient to disasters. Ongoing ICLR funding is provided by the insurance community, The University of Western Ontario and the Ontario Research and Development Challenge Fund.

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