寄付・募金・ボランティアのセーブ・ザ・チルドレン・ジャパン

Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami Emergency response and recovery program

The Fourth Session of Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction: Participation by Children from Three Prefectures! (May 17-23, 2013)

The Fourth Session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction organized by the United Nations was held in Geneva, Switzerland on May 21-23, 2013. Four children from Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures participated at this meeting. They delivered the thoughts and opinions of children who had experienced the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami at this international meeting!

■ Departure for Geneva ■

The children took part in a press conference in Sendai on May 17. These four senior high school students then departed for Geneva the next day as representatives chosen by their fellow children at the end of March.

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■ A gathering of 14 young people from seven countries! ■

A pre-workshop for the meeting was held over a two-day period from May 19, with the participation of 14 children from countries including Cambodia, Vietnam and Lesotho. To begin with, adding in the jet lag, there was an air of nervousness with so many languages flying back and forth. However, when the attendees were taught to introduce themselves using sign language by Indonesian participants with hearing impairments, the children overcame the barrier of language and started to communicate freely with each other.
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Communicating feelings fully without words.

After the self-introductions and an outline of the meeting, discussions started under the theme of “Learning & Sharing.” Alongside the five points of the Children’s Charter for Disaster Risk Reduction, the participants gave their opinions based upon their own experiences, and shared their efforts toward disaster risk reduction in their own countries from the a child’s perspective. The participants came to various realizations: “I thought it was a good idea to use the technique of using images so that children with hearing impairments can also understand.” “It hasn’t really been possible to share our experiences with other children, even within our own regions, so I feel it is vital that children share more between each other in Japan and around the world.” The workshop lasted for about seven hours, but the first day felt like it finished in no time at all. The children ended the first day by selecting a postcard from an enormous selection that best represented their feelings after looking back upon the day’s activities.
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The participants had a big lunch ? they learned a lot and filled up their stomachs!

■ May 20: Discussions to reflect upon the voices of children in the main meeting debates ■

Following on from the previous day, the children shared their experiences and efforts in disaster risk reduction with each other. The Japanese representatives said, “Some children have spoken out their opinions a lot, but others have not said so much. We would like the workshop to balance this out with time allotted to each country.”

This feedback from the Japanese representatives was immediately reflected upon in the workshop, and the participants decided to divide up into groups for each country. This quickly led to an intense exchange of ideas. The Japanese representatives talked with children from Cambodia and Vietnam, and then Lesotho. They listened to the stories of children with disabilities from Vietnam. They later said, “I think it is amazing that children with disabilities, children without disabilities and adults are taking disaster risk reduction training together.” Furthermore, when they heard about efforts toward disaster risk reduction in accordance to processes from pre-disaster to recovery and reconstruction in Lesotho, they said, “I think it would be good if we use that idea in Japan.”
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What methods will also be useful in Japan? The ideas the children were exchanging were amazing! Children did a great job! They learned lot and found ideas which may be useful in Japan.

Later, the children talked about the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) that was to be actively discussed at the Fourth Session of Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction. The participants learned about some difficult-sounding content by listening to explanations with the assistance of timelines and graphics. This content included how the HFA, which was adopted in 2005, will be renewed and discussed again at the 2015 United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction. The children also learned about how the Children’s Charter for Disaster Risk Reduction relates to the formulation of the HFA, and the impact that this formulation at the international level will have on each and every child.
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The children were able to understand the details of the Hyogo Framework for Action.
After the five-hour workshop the children had a refreshing time! They went sightseeing to Lake Leman in Switzerland and enjoyed mingling with the children from various countries and taking photographs on the boat.

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Even if conversation wasn’t easy, it was great to become friends with the children from Lesotho.

■ May 21: Dialogue with adults from around the world ■

The main session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction had started! Approximately 4,800 people from all around the world participated in this meeting, including government officials, international organizations and NGOs. They have all gathered, in part, to discuss what happens after the HFA expires. This will be formulated at the United Nations World Conference on Disaster Reduction to be held in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, in 2015.
After attending the opening ceremony, all the children started preparing for the presentation they were to give the next day, “Children and Disaster Risk Reduction: The Resilient Future We Want.” The participants thought about the content of the speech and practiced their presentation. They wanted to present their collective opinions based upon their own experiences from each country. They also wanted to relate these experiences to the five priorities in the Children’s Charter, formulated in 2011.
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In the afternoon the children attended a side event relating to “school safety.” Even after the event had finished, the children openly exchanged their opinions with the event panel. After a vigorous exchange of opinions, the children said, “I think what the panel said about ’sharing your message beyond your experiences’ is really important.” They also said, “When I was asked “Do you think that the nuclear power plant accident could have been prevented?’ I was happy to know that they seriously wanted to talk about this issue.”

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That evening the children visited Ambassador Okada of the Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations and Other International Organizations, in Geneva. They were even able to sneak a chance meeting with the Mayor of Sendai at the entrance of the venue, and present to her the proposal created by the children of Tohoku.
Click here to read the proposal document
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■ May 22: Delivering the thoughts and opinions of children to the world! ■

“Children and Disaster Risk Reduction: The Resilient Future We Want” was held in the afternoon of May 22. This was the main event for the children at this meeting. Together with their friends from Cambodia, Vietnam and Lesotho, two of the representatives from Japan gave a presentation on two of the five points of the Children’s Charter.
In relation to the point that “children have the right to participate and have access to the information they need,” they talked about the activities of the Children’s Community Building Clubs of Iwate and Miyagi prefectures. The representatives made the following appeal, “We think that if we could participate more when we are still children, this would be a useful skill to have when we become adults. We, who will guide the development of the future of our community?, should be involved in disaster risk reduction (activities or processes) whilst we are still young. Children want to make suggestions and take action just as much as adults do. Please listen carefully to what children say.”
The representatives talked about how, “community infrastructure must be safe, and that post-disaster reconstruction must reduce future risk.” They spoke passionately about safety issues along the school routes and in the playgrounds of Fukushima, as well as the necessity for adequate recreation. They made the following appeal, “Please create an environment where it is possible to study safely in schools, including us living in Fukushima. We hope the people of the world will lend a hand to protect the health of the children in Fukushima. We are grateful from the bottom of our hearts to be able to participate in an event like this. We value every opportunity to talk about the current situation in Fukushima.

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The presentation was given by two of the representatives from Japan. The other two Japanese representatives made their voices heard at the question and answer session that followed. The representatives also introduced a proposal document, created to communicate to a wider audience the children’s experiences of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. The children were able to express their thoughts and opinions and to give a voice to the children of Tohoku.
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Afterwards the representatives commented upon their experience, “A lot happened, but we were able to communicate the thoughts of children as best we could and I think the atmosphere at the venue was truly great!” “Attempting to communicate to the audience whilst embracing a strong message and with pride in your voice, at least I am able to convey something.” “I really felt there were many people with shared interests and concerns who related to our presentation and the voices of children. You could feel the interest by the number of people, the cheers and the sense of unity.”
After the presentation, the children met with Mr. Kameoka, Cabinet Office Minister/ Reconstruction Minister Parliamentary Secretary, who was participating in the meeting as a representative of the Japanese government. With a desire to communicate the voices of the children wider, the children took part in newspaper interviews. Then, finally, the children’s long day was over.

■ May 23: Connecting with the world ■

On this, the final day of the meeting, the children participated in a stage event! There were discussions in the hotel lobby from early morning, and preparations began immediately upon arrival at the venue. Following on from their presentation the previous day, the four representatives from Japan presented the thoughts and opinions of the children of Tohoku to the world. In their unity they found strength. “There was almost no practice time, so, to be honest, I was a little nervous about whether it would go well or not. But with the strength of all four of us combined, we could overcome this. I think we were able to appeal for the proposal document even better than we expected we could. It was great!”

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That afternoon, the representatives reflected over the past five days using posters and charts. The children thought a lot about the children they had met from other countries. Initially, the children were confused and anxious about this unfamiliar environment, however, by the end they themselves agreed that they felt they had been changed by the event. “Our communication abilities developed abnormally well.” The representatives felt a connection with the children from elsewhere in the world and were sad to say goodbye. “I felt very sad to go our separate ways.” “Even just in these five days, our friendship with the children who came to this event from different countries deepened. I really felt it was a “miracle’ to be able to meet everyone.”

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Exiting the venue, the children were happy to have a chance meeting with Ms. Margareta Whalström, the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction. They were also able to hand over their proposal document to Ms. Whalström.
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The children listened to the voices of other parties and used their moment on the big stage of this international meeting to promote better disaster risk reduction around the world.

■ Voices of the children: Looking back at the Fourth Session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction ■

The four representatives from Japan who participated in this meeting had been entrusted with communicating the thoughts and opinions of the children of Tohoku. Each representative has arrived at their own personal realization and has learned many things on their journey.

One representative looked back upon this experience as follows:

Until I took part in these efforts to create the proposal document that led to my participation in this meeting, I didn’t even want to communicate my thoughts to others. As far as possible, I hid that I was from Fukushima. I was afraid of my opinions being rejected and I avoided directly facing the reality of the situation.

However, since I was given this opportunity by Save the Children to speak for the children of Tohoku and to express my emotions to the people of the world, I have realized the importance of stating my own opinions and also the great joy one can get from doing so. In particular, I feel my experiences at this meeting have brightened up my life and made it magnificent. When I gave my speech at the Global Platform, the audience listened to me so intently. Being able to share this moment with them made me so happy I thought I would cry. In addition, after my speech there were many people who wanted to shake my hand or take commemorative photographs. I could see that the people of the world are supporting me. I think that being able to personally experience this will support me forever and become a driving force in my life.

I was able to build lifelong friendships with the other representatives who participated from Tohoku. We were able to develop strong bonds by cooperating together during our activities and were able to overcome the various challenges that occurred during this meeting whilst respecting each other all the time. I am younger than the other participants, so these friends looked after me every day. The time I spent with these people was so important that it is impossible to put it into words.

I would also like to thank fully all the members of staff who accompanied us on this trip and who supported the four of us with all their effort. I am truly grateful. They gave me the best experiences and the best friends.

I believe there was nothing that I could accomplish alone. I wouldn’t have achieved anything without the cooperation of my fellow representatives and the members of staff. I have come to like people more through my participation in this event!
(Female 2nd grader from a senior high school in Iwaki City, Fukushima)

Another representative, looking back at the presentation and the meeting with children from various countries said:

It was great that I could hear the strong opinions that the children from the participating countries have toward disaster risk reduction and the participation of children in general. I learned a lot about systems and activities that I’ve never seen in Japan. We were able to communicate to everyone that we are working hard in our community.

In the main session, two students represented us and spoke on our behalf. I think, however, that we communicated to the world the thoughts of the four of us, and also the 32 of us who together made the proposal document at a workshop in Sendai! Now I would like to hear about different regions in Japan and elsewhere. I also want to think more and more about disaster risk reduction and community building. It was truly fantastic to be able to participate in this event! Even my anxiety turned out to be good fun. Thank you so much!
(Female 3rd grader from a senior high school in Rikuzentakata City, Iwate)

This is not directly about disaster reduction, however, in order to be able to talk with and understand each other, language is not the most important thing. More important is that feeling of wanting to attempt to communicate.

I came to understand it is possible to communicate fully with others even without words (because of our different languages and disabilities). You will certainly have some means to convey your message if you attempt to communicate with all your heart. Moreover, it is also easy to share laughter.

In the same way, I saw that there will always be adults who are willing to listen to us, more or less, if you have the feeling of wanting to attempt to communicate. Together with children who were desperate to communicate, there were adults who were desperate to listen.

There were many children who thought seriously about disaster risk reduction around the world. They attempted to share their thoughts and experiences with the world. I learned that if the thoughts of children from Japan and children from other countries come together as one, like at this meeting, it could become a very powerful force. By doing so, I think it will be even easier to talk with adults, and with the world.

In any case, children seriously working together on something seemed so brilliant.
(Female 3rd grader from a senior high school in Ofunato City, Iwate)

One representative said the following of his experience of the meeting while also looking towards the future:

We should not stop here. I have again realized at this meeting that we have to keep working our hardest. Next time, however, I would like to support children in giving their opinions like the youth members who participated together with us in this session.
(Male 3rd grader from a senior high school in Higashimatsushima City, Miyagi)

■ Continuing to speak out toward the 2015 United Nations World Conference on Disaster Reduction! ■

In 2015, the United Nations World Conference on Disaster Reduction will be held in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, and the “Post-Hyogo Framework for Action” will be developed. This will be an international action plan to protect our lives from disasters. SCJ will continue to work with children so that they can speak out and participate in disaster risk reduction around the world!