Tehran 2 June 2016-- UNESCO and UN-Habitat this week held a 3-day capacity building workshop, as part of a joint sub-regional project on Seismic Hazard and Risk Analysis, covering Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Turkmenistan. The Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) and the International Institute of Earthquake Engineering and Seismology (IIEES) have been major partners of the project from the beginning.

The capacity building workshop is taking place at the ECO secretariat in Tehran and brings together four participants from Pakistan, four from Turkmenistan, four from Afghanistan, plus several Afghan students in Geo-Physics who are pursuing their studies in Tehran, as well as a number of Iranian participants and an expert from Turkey.

During the opening session, Mr. Siamak Moghadam, Chief of UN-Habitat in Iran, talked about the importance and unique character of the project, which aims at using the most recent methods and technologies for seismic hazard analysis, which will result in evaluating and re-assessing the seismicity of the four countries.

An updated assessment will be carried out on the seismic hazardous parts of two selected cities in each of the four countries and a seismic risk map will be developed for those cities, in order to enable city planners and policy makers to make sound and well-informed decisions.

Disaster risk reduction is all about choices

Ms. Kuisch Laroche, Director and Representative of the UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office stressed that disaster risk reduction is all about choices: “The ultimate goal of this sub-regional project is to provide your countries with the knowledge, expertise and tools that will enable all of us to make wiser choices.”

She added that the project fitted well within UNESCO’s mid-term strategy, which states that “UNESCO will promote international collaboration on the assessment and monitoring of global changes and natural hazards, including droughts and floods and geo-hazards, as well as tsunamis; the generation and sharing of scientific knowledge leading to the understanding of natural hazards; and by the reduction of disaster risks.”

Ms. Laroche highlighted the fact that the nature of this particular project was unique, as it was a joint effort between two UN agencies, supported by ECO and IIEES, bringing together four neighboring countries in the region. “Today’s workshop is the first step towards implementation, which fulfills our promise that this project will capitalize on training and national capacity-building to create a well-trained and confident team of national experts who will be able to carry out the tasks of the project,” she said.

Mr. Seyed Jalaledin Alavi, Deputy Secretary-General of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), underlined the strong support of ECO to the project, which covers four ECO countries, and he expressed the hope that in the future it could be expanded to also cover the remaining countries of the ECO region. Dr. Mehdi Zare of the International Institute of Earthquake Engineering and Seismology (IIEES) spoke about the high seismic risk in the four countries and the urgent need to focus on disaster risk reduction, resiliency and sustainable development.

After the opening session, Dr. Mehmet Akdogan of UN-Habitat introduced the different sessions of the workshop, which will focus on urban inventory (elements at risk) and database development; probabilistic seismic hazard analysis; developing seismic zoning maps and uniform hazard spectra; and earthquake risk assessment. At the end of the training, the participants will also pay visits to IIEES and the Road, Housing and Urban Development Research Centre in Tehran.