The Hong Kong Observatory conducted a symposium on natural disaster planning and preparedness on March 29 and 30 where world-renowned experts were invited to give lectures (Figure 1).
Local experts from the Hong Kong Observatory, Geotechnical Engineering Office and Drainage Services Department also presented Hong Kong's work in natural disaster preparedness. More than 60 participants from the observatory and relevant government departments, tertiary institutes as well as meteorological offices in Mainland China and Macau attended the symposium (Figure 2).
The symposium provided a valuable opportunity for meteorologist, disaster managers and academics in the region to exchange experience and strengthen co-operation in disaster preparedness and mitigation.
At the symposium, the recently-outgoing President of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), Dr John Zillman, said, " While meteorological science and technology have enabled us to make great strides in reducing the risk of weather-related disasters, many challenges still lay ahead for the scientific community as well as for governments in determining how to make best use of these new and emerging capabilities
in reducing natural disasters."
The Director of the Hong Kong Observatory, Mr Lam Chiu-ying, who recently attended and chaired a meeting of experts on the WMO's newly established 'Natural Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Programme' in
Geneva said: " Managing natural disasters is not just a matter of issuing weather warnings. It requires the cooperation of many bureaux and departments. Disaster response personnel should be caring, empathise with
the needs of the public, organise the disaster management structure in such a way that public safety is truly secured and the economic losses due to severe weather minimised."
Because of its geographical location, Hong Kong is prone to weather-related disasters such as heavy rain and typhoon every year. For over a century, the Hong Kong Observatory has been responsible for the
provision of weather information and issuance of severe weather warnings as well as advising the public on the precautions and measures to take.
The concerted efforts of the government and the public have greatly reduced the damage and casualties inflicted by natural disasters in Hong Kong in recent years. However, with the continuing social development, vigorous economic activities, fast information flow and concentrated transport facilities, the public's demand for more and better warning services has also been increasing. To meet the changing needs of the public, disaster preparedness and planning must be adjusted in a timely manner. This symposium has enabled disaster management personnel in the region to recognise global trends in disaster mitigation, and provided a
basis for the review on the adequacy of the local disaster planning and preparedness programme.
Figure 1 World-renowned experts were invited to give lectures in the Symposium on Natural Disaster Planning and Preparedness conducted by the Hong Kong Observatory. The 4th from left is Mr. C.Y. Lam, the Director of Hong Kong Observatory, while the 3rd is Dr. John Zillman, the immediate-past President of the World Meteorological Organization.
Figure 2 Participants from the Observatory, relevant government departments, tertiary institutes, meteorological offices in Mainland China and Macao attended the Symposium on Natural Disaster Planning and Preparedness conducted by the Hong Kong Observatory.