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UNESCO Youth Forum Looking Beyond Disaster, 16-19 August 2012, Sendai, Japan. Call for Participation.

Draft agenda (update 9 August)

Program materials (file here)

This is an international forum with youth from different countries of the world, especially Asia and the Pacific, to share experiences of disasters and to develop realistic action plans to rebuild communities that meet the needs and aspirations of young people. To view the flyer of the event, please click the link - Call for Participation to the Second UNESCO Youth Forum: Looking beyond disaster, 16 - 19 August 2012, Sendai, Japan [PDF-541k].  

Applications are only accepted from 28 July from those who do not need a visa, or from Japan.

On 11 March 2011 Tohoku area experienced a record magnitude 9.0 earthquake that in its 10 minutes led to the world’s most expensive disaster, and a tsunami (that was 15m high in places). Since then they have experienced several major earthquakes and many thousands of aftershocks. Over 15,000 people died and thousands are still missing. The debris has spread across the Pacific Ocean. Sendai airport was flooded by the tsunami. While Sendai city has rebuilt, many coastal villages still suffer from debris. The first day of the forum, 16th August, will be a full day bus trip with chances to join in some community service as well as see the area.  

While hazards are natural, disasters are not.  Young people need to not only be aware of the risks and impacts of hazards, but also have take action to prepare for and respond to disasters. Young people have shown already their potential to create a world that takes a proactive stance against tragedies caused by disaster.  Disasters can destroy communities but also rebuild them. As key agents of promoting change UNESCO has gathered young community leaders in the Youth Looking Beyond Disaster programme. The first UNESCO Youth Forum: Looking Beyond Disaster, was held in December 2011 in Christchurch, New Zealand, with 100 participants from around the world. Youth developed 25 action plans to rebuild communities from disasters. Some of these will be presenting the implementation of their action plans.  Many new participants with experiences from rebuilding communities will join the network in the Sendai meeting from other communities around the world.

The expected outcomes include: 
• Strengthening a new global network of young people across Asia and the Pacific empowered to share experiences and exchange ideas on disaster and community;
• Saving lives and reducing the suffering from disasters;
• Giving hope in concrete ways for self-recovery of communities from disasters;
• Support for youth-led projects to be implemented in different countries; 
• Development of evaluation skills to assess efforts already made;
• Learning lessons from the rapid recovery in this region;
• Examining the psychosocial issues and challenges of community rebuilding, and stigmatization of communities faced with fears of low level radiochemical exposure;
• Getting communities and the policy structures ready for rapid response to disasters;
• Following up on recommendations on information flow in disasters; youth resilience, rebuilding communities and disaster response.
• Considerations of academic and community infrastructures that can assist youth;

Who can come?
The conference is especially for youth who have experienced natural disasters, and the challenges that means for their communities. There will also be some students specializing in disaster recovery, and a few experts to assist in mentoring. We seek participants in their late teens through their twenties. There will also be some older persons who are setting up structures to enhance youth community service, and youth involvement in recovering from communities. If you have any inquiries you can write to the organizers.

How to apply?
There is no application fee. Applications to participate should take the form of an expression of interest email composed by you that outlines (in less than 500 words) why you would like to participate in this forum, post-disaster activities you have been involved in, and/or suggestions for an action plan to develop with other participants. Please also explain what you have learnt from facing a disaster in your community. 

Please email to Dr. Darryl Macer at, RUSHSAP, UNESCO Bangkok, 920 Sukhumvit Road, Prakanong, Bangkok 10110, THAILAND. Updated programme and other information are available on our web page:

The organisers include the Regional Unit in Social and Human Sciences for Asia and the Pacific (RUSHSAP) at UNESCO Bangkok, Miyagi International Association (MIA), and Eubios Ethics Institute, in collaboration with Sendai International Relations Association (SIRA), Asia-Pacific Cultural Center for UNESCO (ACCU), National Federation of UNESCO Associations in Japan and University of Hyogo, Japan.

General information
The conference will be informal, and meals, lunches and tea breaks will be provided in the conference package which is approx. USD50 per day including shared accommodation and food. English is the working language, but some interpretation into Japanese will be available. It is possible to develop action plans in other languages, but an English translation should be provided. It is intended to make the conference a memorable time together in sharing lessons and friendships, in various ways across cultures.

Financial issues
We are seeking financial support for assistance but we do not expect to be able to cover the travel of participants, therefore registrants should be prepared to gather their own expenses to travel to Sendai, and pay the meal and accommodation package at JPY25,000 for university students, and JPY22,000 for high school students for the meals and accommodation from 15th afternoon checkin to 20th morning checkout. Accommodation will be booked in either Western or Japanese style rooms at a central venue, Espol Sendai (, where the forum will also occur.  

No special safety concerns 
Sendai is 94km from the site of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant where there were 3 meltdowns. The forum will not be going near this area, and we consider Sendai, a bustling and exciting city of over a million persons, safe for visitors to participate in the short period in the area.  Although one of the topics of some participants will be recovery from Fukushima disaster (and some are part of existing action plans), we do not encourage youth to go near the exclusion zone which is about 20km from the reactor site. Travel from Tokyo to Sendai is not near the site also, by the highway bus, shinkansen, or air flight.  

You may wish to take the opportunity to travel in Japan to experience the beauty of the country and hospitality of its people before or after the Forum. Ideas can be exchanged on the facebook group “Looking Beyond Disaster: UNESCO Youth Forum”. 

Call for participation [PDF]