Department of Economic and Social Affairs Public Institutions
Webinar - Government Innovation and Disaster Risk Reduction: Frontier Technologies for Resilience
Start Date/Time:
Wednesday, March 27, 2019 9:00 AM
End Date/Time:
Wednesday, March 27, 2019 11:30 PM
Recurring Event:
One time event
Normal Priority
Registration Type:
By Invitation




Webinar on

Government Innovation and Disaster Risk Reduction: Frontier

Technologies for Resilience


Watch the Webinar Recording

Wednesday, 27 March 2019, 9:00 am GMT+9 (South Korea) /

12:00 pm GMT+12 (Pacific)

Tuesday, 26 March 2019, 8:00 pm GMT -4 (Washington DC, USA)




This webinar explores how government can leverage frontier technologies for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and resilience, profiling success cases and addressing the barriers to scaling these innovations across developing country contexts.


Frontier technologies present rapidly evolving opportunities to ensure resilience across developed and developing countries. Governments are increasingly leveraging frontier technologies to ensure resilience and mitigate disaster and climate risks.[1]  Amid a changing climate, threats from disasters are multiplying with the potential to setback progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Digital government and innovations in the technology space are increasingly significant in building a resilient society and mitigating the diversity of disaster risks and shocks. By leveraging innovations in technology such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS), big data, artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, and more, governments can be better equipped to effectively anticipate, prepare, and respond to the multiplying threat of disasters from climate change.

The webinar is designed in response to expressed requests from member states regarding further online training on disaster risk reduction and government innovation to strengthen resilience of efforts to achieve the SDGs. The webinar will address the key barriers that arise in technology transfer, along with risks, vulnerabilities, and solutions to accelerate the use of frontier technologies in DRR related public services.

As the recent UN DESA report on “Gearing E-Government to Support Transformation towards Sustainable and Resilient Societies” notes,[2] digital technologies have the potential for strengthening resilience and reducing vulnerability. For example, End-to-End early warning systems provide timely and effective information to avoid or reduce risk and to prepare for effective disaster response. In monitoring and predicting disasters, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (drones) have become integrated and successful tools in disaster preparedness in the form of monitoring, measuring and mapping for DRR.[3] Blockchain is being used in the humanitarian contexts while responding to disasters for cash transfers and citizen identification. There are countless opportunities to leverage frontier technologies for resilience and mitigate disaster risks.  However, for the transfer and sustained use across developing countries, technologies, especially frontier technologies must be “appropriate” and transferrable to the most local and vulnerable contexts.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Disaster Risk Reduction

Adopted in 2015 by all United Nations Member States, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a holistic and inter-dependent agenda that aims to achieve 17 Sustainable Development Goals in both developed and developing countries.  It aspires to “leave no one behind” and calls for a special effort to ensure that vulnerable states such as Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Land-locked Developing States (LLDCs) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) make rapid progress towards realizing sustainable development. The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 is an integral part of the 2030 Agenda with its seven targets and indicators embedded across the SDGs. The Sendai Framework particularly advances the achievement of eleven SDGs, particularly 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 11, 13, 14 and 15 among others to ensure resilience across all Member States.[4]

Key Questions to be addressed

  • Scanning the frontier technology horizon, what technological innovations are effectively ensuring resilience and DRR today?

  • How are frontier technologies being applied in vulnerable country contexts to ensure resilience?

  • What are the key barriers to scaling these technologies, noting typical challenges from capacity development and digital skills, finance and property rights areas?

  • How can governments address these barriers and accelerate the use of these solutions for DRR and resilience?


  • Dr. Sanjay Srivastava, Chief, Disaster Risk Reduction, ICT and Disaster Risk Reduction Division, UN ESCAP   

  • Sanjay K Srivastava, Ph D (Applied Physics), is presently Chief of Disaster Risk Reduction at UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). He was ESCAP Regional Adviser on Disaster Risk Reduction from Oct 2009 to June 2014; Head of SAARC Disaster Management Centre – New Delhi from 2007-2008; Deputy Project Director of Disaster Management Support Programme at Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO); Scientist/Engineer at ISRO HQ Bangalore since 199. He is the recipient of ISRO’s Team excellence award in 2008-09 for his contributions towards harnessing space technology applications. While he has more than 100 publications on disaster risk reduction, including research papers in peer reviewed international journals, intergovernmental reports and books; Sanjay has been a lead author of ESCAP’s flagship publication – Asia-Pacific Disaster Report.   


  • Ms. Derval Usher, Head of Office, UN Global Pulse Lab Jakarta

  • Derval Usher (Ireland) is Head of Office for Pulse Lab Jakarta, a data innovation lab, which harnesses the power of new digital data sources and real-time analytics for development and humanitarian action. Pulse Lab Jakarta is a joint initiative of the United Nations (through UN Global Pulse) and the Government of Indonesia (through Bappenas), the first innovation lab of its kind in Asia, bringing together experts from United Nations agencies, government ministries, non-governmental organisations and the private sector. Prior to joining the UN, Derval was General Manager of the European Chamber of Commerce in Jakarta, Indonesia and before that in Shanghai, China. She has a wealth of experience in trade policy and government relations. She has also worked with the World Food Programme and the European Commission. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Business with French and German from Dublin City University in Ireland and a Master’s degree in Chinese and International Relations from the University of Sheffield, UK.


     Dr. David Green, Programme Manager, Disasters, NASA, United States 

  • As program manager for Disaster Applications, David and his team use space-based instruments and models to support decisions and actions, promote innovation and build capacity in the use of Earth Science.  David is also the satellite applications lead for NISAR, CYGNESS and TROPICS and serves on the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) and Group on Earth Observation (GEO) Disasters Working Groups.  David joined NASA after 11 years as a program manager and scientist at NOAA where he worked in eco-forecasting, health, energy and coastal hazards and served as the Tsunami Program Manager for nearly four years.  Prior to joining NOAA, he was a Research Fellow at the National Institution of Science and Technology and worked in the private sector as well.  David is a member of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) Board on Enterprise Planning and the Forecast Improvement Group, and serves on the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Natural Hazards Committee. 


Contact Information

Ms. Ana Thorlund, UNISDR ONEA-GETI

Ms. Sara Castro de Hallgren, UN DESA



The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs

The Forum is organized by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Division for Public Institutions and Digital Government (DPIDG) through its Project Office on Governance (UNPOG). UN DESA’s DPIDG supports intergovernmental discussions, research and capacity development for building effective, accountable, inclusive and transparent institutions. As a project office of UN DESA, UNPOG aims to strengthen the public governance capacities of developing Member States in Asia and the Pacific and beyond to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction

The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction for Northeast Asia and Global Education Training Institute (UNISDR ONEA-GETI) was established in 2010 through cooperation with the Government of the Republic of Korea to develop a new cadre of professionals in disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation for disaster resilient societies. It supports and promotes effective and coherent Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction implementation among governments, city leaders, the private sector, universities, the science community, NGOs and other international organizations.

The Asian and Pacific Training Centre for Information and Communication Technology for Development

The Asian and Pacific Training Centre for Information and Communication Technology for Development (APCICT) is a regional institute of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). APCICT aims to strengthen the efforts of the member countries of ESCAP to use ICT in their socioeconomic development through human and institutional capacity building. APCICT’s work is focused on three pillars: training, knowledge sharing, and multi-stakeholder dialogue and partnership.




Agenda Link 





[1] UNISDR defines resilience as “The ability of a system, community or society exposed to hazards to resist, absorb, accommodate, adapt to, transform and recover from the effects of a hazard in a timely and efficient manner, including through the preservation and restoration of its essential basic structures and functions through risk management.”

[3] Science and Development Network, “Remote sensing for natural disasters: Facts and figures,” features/remote-sensing-for-natural-disasters-facts-and-figures.html.




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