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    • ECO-UNESCO Workshop on School Safety was held in Tehran
      ECO-UNESCO Workshop on School Safety was held in Tehran
      The “School Safety Workshop" was organized from 22 to 24 October 2017 at the ECO Secretariat in Tehran, participated by representatives and experts from Republic of Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic and Pakistan as well as officials from UNESCO, UNhabitat, International Institute of Earthquake Engineering and Seismology (IIEES), Natural Disaster Research Institute (NDRI) and ECO Secretariat.

      ECO Deputy Secretary General, Mr. Seyed Jalaledin Alavi Sabzevari, in his opening remarks welcomed the delegations from the ECO Member States and partner organizations and appreciated their contributions to this important workshop. He particularly thanked UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office for excellent organization of the Workshop and UNESCO Headquarters in Paris for sending relevant Expert to share with the participants the global programmes and initiatives on school safety. He also briefed the audience on ECO activities particularly in disaster-related issues and recalled ECO cooperation with international partners on school safety, including with OECD and UNISDR. He welcomed recent interest of UNESCO in ECO Region and recalled some recent joint activities.

      Deputy secretary General further informed about the post-Sendai activities in the ECO Region, including the development of “ECO Regional Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction" which was finalized few days ago in Ankara, with the contributions from the Member States and international partners such as UNESCAP, UNISDR and IDB. He finally expressed hope that ECO Secretariat would get valuable lessons and advice from the discussions in the 3-day workshop, which will be utilized in implementation of the relevant activities of the ECO Regional Framework.

      “Overall, annual economic losses from disasters represent between USD 250 billion and USD 300 billion”, said Ms. Kuisch Laroche, Director of the UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office in her opening remarks. She further highlighted that studies of disaster trends and the likely consequences of climate change suggest that each year 175 million children will be affected by natural hazard-related disasters alone. She emphasized that without safe schools, learning and teaching will be disrupted in the aftermath of a disaster, often causing children to roam around in the streets where they may be more exposed to abuse, exploitation and separation from their families in the chaotic post-disaster situation. This might further cause them to lose an entire school year, as they cannot catch up on the weeks or months spent out of school.
      Dr. Ali Shahri, Deputy Head of the Organization for the Development, Renovation and Equipping of Schools of Iran also made remarks highlighting the importance of safe schools for a sustainable future of countries. He mentioned that in 2005, Iran’s Parliament allocated 4 (four) billion dollars to retrofit and renovate 9,500 schools. An additional 3 (three) million dollars was allocated in 2016 for school renovation projects to be implemented from 2017 to 2022. This shows the willingness of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran in implementation of the Safe School Initiative under the Sendai Framework. Moreover, charity organizations and the private sectors in Iran contributed over 400 million dollars in 2014 alone for the retrofitting of schools in Iran.

      In his remarks Mr. Siamak Moghaddam, Chief of UN-Habitat Office in Tehran, underscored that schools do not only serve students during the earthquakes or other disasters, but they can also act as a temporary shelter for communities. Although building codes and regulations have been developed in many countries, but the quality aspects of the implementation of the codes has been compromised in the midst of a huge rush towards quantity. He further added that resilient cities and schools can be achievable in the context of “New Urban Agenda” which sets a new global standard for sustainable urban development.

      The Workshop included a series of presentations by Ms. Margherita Fanchiotti from UNESCO Headquarters in Paris and Mr. Mahmudul Islam, DRR international expert of the ECO Secretariat, followed by interactive discussions among the participants on the issues such as global and regional frameworks, including ECO Regional Framework for Disaster risk Reduction; tools and techniques to implement the “Comprehensive School Safety” programme, including VISUS tools for assessing school safety; resilient citizenry; culture of safety through integrating DRR and resilience in education system; etc.

      Day long visits to retrofitted and new resilient school buildings in Tehran as well as IIEES laboratories were also arranged for the participants. At the end of the Workshop, the participants were awarded “Certificate of Participation” jointly signed by ECO and UNESCO.

      Link to the Event in the UNESCO website

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