Globally, planners and policy makers are facing the challenges of protecting coastal communities from the risks of natural disasters and rising seas. On September 25, 2014, during the week of the UN General Assembly, R3ADY Asia-Pacific convened a High-Level Symposium on Coastal Resilience, bringing together international leaders, government officials and representatives from civil society and the private sector, who offered their perspectives on mitigating the environmental, economic and social threats that are faced by coastal areas.
In her keynote speech at the symposium, the First Lady of Japan, Madam Akie Abe, provided her perspective on Japan’s plans to build seawalls along the coast of the Tohoku region, which was impacted by the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami in 2011. Under government plans, 230 miles of walls are to be built in the worst-hit prefectures of Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate, but some residents believe a concrete fortress is not the answer.
What will it take to protect communities from future disasters? How do we protect our communities while maintaining a vibrant economy and high quality of life for residents? During the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction side event, “Global Approaches to Coastal Resilience,” R3ADY Asia-Pacific and Peace Boat will explore these important questions. We are honored that the First Lady of Japan, Madam Akie Abe, has agreed to give the keynote speech on protecting Japan’s coastal communities.
The event will also include a moderated community discussion, which brings together both sides of the contentious sea wall debate to hear community members’ questions and concerns. A panel of international experts will offer their perspectives on the debate and share lessons from their own countries’ efforts to build resilient coastal communities.
Moderated Community Discussion
- Mr. Akinari Abe, Small Business Owner and Community Advocate, Ogatsu
- Mr. Tomoyuki Miura, Community Advocate, Kesennuma City
- Mr. Yorio Takahashi, Vice President, Ogatsu Disaster Recovery City Development Association
- Ms. Kiyoko Abe, Executive Coordinator, Compact city Ishinomaki, Machinaka Sousei Kyougikai and head of the Yawataya company
- Mr. Takahashi “Junior” Yamamoto, President, Peace Boat Disaster Relief Volunteer Coordinator (moderator)
Panel: International Experts
- Dr. Holly Bamford, Assistant Secretary for Conservation and Management, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
- Dr. Mike Beck, Lead Scientist, Global Marine Team, The Nature Conservancy
- Dr. Ritesh Kumar, Conservation Programme Manager, South Asia, Wetlands International
- Dr. Fabrice Renaud, Head of Section at United Nations University, Institute for Environment and Human Security
- Ms. Jainey Bavishi, Executive Director, R3ADY Asia-Pacific (moderator)