Dr. Jalal Dabbeek, An-Najah’s Director of the Urban Planning and Disaster Risk Reduction Centre (UDRRC), recently returned from Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt where he participated in the 2nd Arab Regional Conference looking at disaster risk reduction and the role of science and academics.
The conference, held under the auspices of the Prime Minister of Egypt, UNISDR and the Arab League, as well as wide Arab and international participation, looked at how academic institutions and scientists can play a role in reducing risk from natural disasters and preparing society.
As part of the 3-day conference, Dr. Dabbeek presented to delegates on “Academic hubs: The role of academic institutions in driving forward sustainable risk reduction”. In his paper Dr. Dabbeek drew on the experience of An-Najah in being a leader for change and preparedness for society. To illustrate this he explained the SASPARM project (part of the EU’s FP7 projects) where, with EU partners, An-Najah through the UPDRRC led and then implemented a new seismic building code for Palestine, thus mitigating the future impact of earthquakes on society.
The project took a holistic approach, moving from an educational role to practical application. Dr. Dabbeek highlighted some of the activities that came as a result of the Project, including:
· Consultancy and applied research;
· Development of specialised undergraduate and graduate courses in disaster risk reduction;
· Regular communications for Engineers, specialists and decision-makers;
· Lectures and awareness raising campaigns with local media;
· Workshops, seminars and conferences focusing on disaster risk reduction; and
· Specialist training courses on seismic risk reduction in construction.
He also highlighted the importance An-Najah places on being an active and responsive player to society’s needs. An example being An-Najah’s recent expansion to bid for a Masters course in risk reduction and its already substantial programme of courses covering such subjects as part of its undergraduate degree programmes.
The 3-day course also gave Dr. Dabbeek the opportunity to network with other regional and international experts and take away the concluding thoughts from the conference for consideration within Palestine.
1. The conference took place between 14-16 September in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt.
2. There were also presentations from many arab countries. As well as several Governmental and Non-Governmental organisations from across the Arab and wider world.
3. The Support Action for Strengthening Palestinian-administrated Areas capabilities for Seismic Risk Mitigation (SASPARM) project is part of the EU’s FP 7 projects.
4. The SASPARM project was implemented with An-Najah’s partners: the European Centre for Training and Research in Earthquake Engineering (EU Centre); and the Institute for Advanced Study (IUSS) in Pavia, Italy.