ICHARM -- The International Centre for Water Hazard and Risk Management


Lectures by the award-winning hydrologists on the occasion of the 2008 JSCE International Contribution Award

Dr. Andras Szollosi-Nagy, deputy assistant director general of UNESCO, and Dr. Kuniyoshi Takeuchi, director of the International Centre for Water Hazard and Risk Management (ICHARM), were awarded the 2008 International Contribution Award by the Japan Society of Civil Engineers (JSCE) for their outstanding contributions to global water issues. To celebrate the distinguished world-class hydrologists, the National Institute for Land and Infrastructure Management (NILIM) and the Public Works Research Institute (PWRI) jointly held a special lecture meeting on "Global Climate Change and Challenges in Water Management" on May 29 in Tokyo. The lecture meeting was also supported by the Japanese National Commission (JNC) for UNESCO, JSCE, and the Japan Society of Hydrology and Water Resources.

Mr. Akihiko Nunomura, director of NILIM, started the event with an opening speech on behalf of the organizers, followed by a speech by Ms. Sonoko Watanabe, who is currently vice secretary general of JNC for UNESCO and chief of the Planning Coordination Office of the International Affairs Division, Minister's Secretariat of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

The two hydrologists then gave a lecture in front of a large audience gathering to celebrate the special occasion. Dr. Takeuchi spoke first on "Disaster Management for Sustainable Well-being." In the lecture, he addressed "human empowerment" as a key concept in disaster management. He pointed out that, to reduce water-related disaster damage worldwide, the elimination of vulnerability factors within communities are imperative in addition to the protection of communities from external forces of natural hazards. For that reason, he emphasized the enhancement of the ability to cope with water-related disasters at the local and individual levels. In this context, Dr. Takeuchi explained that ICHARM prioritizes "Localism" in its efforts, introducing the centre's contribution to development and dissemination of satellite-based early warning systems as well as trainings in water hazards and risk management.

Dr. Szollosi-Nagy followed Dr. Takeuchi to speak on "Global Changes and Their Impacts on Water Resource: New Challenges and Opportunities for Civil Engineers." He shared his insightful views on how global climate as well as socio-economic changes may affect prospective work and roles of civil engineers. He suggested that those engineers should pay special attention to securing adequate reservoirs in basin water management. Pointing out the significance and difficulty in solving global water issues, he concluded the lecture by quoting the words of John. F. Kennedy: "Anybody who can solve the problems of water will be worthy of two Nobel Prizes, one for peace and one for science."

The lecture room with a capacity of about 100 people was filled with an ardent audience listening to the two speakers until the end of the event.

Dr. Szollosi-Nagy and Dr Takeuchi have been good friends for 35 years since they shared a laboratory at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria. It was quite a pleasant surprise for the two to find out that they were given the same award at the same time. Meanwhile, the Hungarian scientist celebrated his 60th birthday just a week before the event and was doubly happy calling the honorable award "the best birthday present I have ever had."

Dr. Kuniyoshi Takeuchi, director of ICHARM

Dr. Andras Szollosi-Nagy, deputy assistant director general of UNESCO

Dr. Szollosi-Nagy and Dr. Takeuchi have a firm handshake after the lectures.