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Press Release
Media invitation: workshop on managing risks of extreme events to advance climate change adaptation
Issued by: Wits University  
[Johannesburg, 18 October 2013]

Climate change will require more effective disaster management to deal with the increased number of extreme weather events. Resilience to climate change-related extreme events, such as heat waves, floods, droughts, wildfires and storm surges, is an essential approach that can help reduce risks to both fast and slow onset disasters.

Since the release of the Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (IPCC SREX) in 2012, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has used a series of workshops to help countries, cities, and international organisations understand the opportunities for improving adaptation to extreme events and disasters. 

The latest in this series of workshops will be held from 20 October to 22 October 2013 in Pretoria. Nearly 100 leaders in government, business, and academia from across southern and eastern Africa will have the chance to learn about the report from IPCC authors, and to discuss the report's findings in the light of their own experiences.

According to the Co-Chair of Working Group II of the IPCC, Chris Field: "SREX can help build the scientific foundations for sound decisions on infrastructure, urban development, public health, and insurance, as well as for planning – from community organisations to international disaster risk management. But success will require people working together, blending their expertise, at all levels."

The workshop will be hosted by the Department of Environmental Affairs, the University of the Witwatersrand and the University of Pretoria, in co-operation with the IPCC Working Group II and with generous financial support from the government of Norway.

Date: Sunday, 20 October to Tuesday, 22 October 2013 
Venue: Leriba Lodge, Pretoria (directionsmap
Programme: See attached

Some of the report's key findings:

Many climate extremes are projected to increase in frequency, duration, and severity with important implications for achieving sustainable development.

Changes in some extreme weather and climate events are already happening. Since 1970, 95% of lives lost from natural disasters have been in developing countries. Economic losses are also greatest in absolute terms in developed countries.

The strength and sophistication of coping strategies have often been key to the actual number of people and economic assets harmed.

Options ranging from the individual and the family to the national and international levels can help manage the risks of extreme events in a changing climate, building on lessons learned from experience with disaster risk management and adaptation.

These initiatives include systems that warn people of impending disasters; changes in land use planning; sustainable land management; and ecosystem management. Other initiatives include improvements in health surveillance, water supplies, and sanitation and drainage systems; climate proofing of major infrastructure and enforcement of building codes; and better education and awareness.

Useful links:

SREX Web site: www.srex.org 
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: www.ipcc.ch 
Working Group I: The Physical Science Basis: www.ipcc-wg1.unibe.ch 
Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability: www.ipcc-wg2.gov

For further information, please contact:

Professor Mary Scholes 
School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences 
University of the Witwatersrand 
Tel: +27 11 717 6407 
E-mail: mary.scholes@wits.ac.za

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(+27) 11 717 1024
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