The University of Newcastle, Australia

UN flag to fly above City Hall

Thursday, 16 June 2016

A United Nations flag will be raised in Civic Park* today to confirm Newcastle as a ‘United Nations City’ and host of the first United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) for Disaster Preparedness and Risk Reduction in Australia and the Pacific region.

Alexander Mejia, Director of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research's (UNITAR) Decentralised Cooperation Programme, will present Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes and University of Newcastle Vice-Chancellor Professor Caroline McMillen with the UN flag.

UNITAR maintains a global network of 14 International Training Centres for Authorities and Leaders, known by their French acronym 'CIFAL'. Councillor Nelmes and Professor McMillen attended the Geneva induction of the University of Newcastle (UON) as UNITAR's 15th CIFAL Training Centre, which equip authorities to meet the UN's global sustainability goals and deal with issues of governance, climate change and industrial decline.

The centre will draw on the UON School of Architecture and Built Environment's strengths in disaster preparedness and sustainable development to help governments and communities mitigate the impacts of natural disasters and social and industrial upheaval in the 21st Century.

"Newcastle is receiving today the United Nations flag as a testament to its commitment to the future of our planet," Alexander Mejia, Director of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research's (UNITAR) Decentralised Cooperation Programme said.

"The ideals that this flag represent are embraced here and we present our respects to its citizens. The 21st Century will be the century of cities and of city-to-city diplomacy.

"Newcastle is now part of a network of cities that will not only take diplomacy to a new level, but that will be at the centre of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development."

The Lord Mayor will welcome Mr Mejia before joining him, Professor McMillen and the Director of the new CIFAL Training Centre, Associate Professor Graham Brewer, for its inaugural board meeting.

"Today is a proud day for Newcastle," the Lord Mayor said.

"Other cities hosting CIFAL Training Centres for future leaders include Atlanta, Geneva and Shanghai, so to be mentioned among them is a testament to the collective strength of Newcastle's port, airport, defence, university and industrial sectors.

"Newcastle has proven its resilience in natural disasters. We pulled through the 1989 earthquake and Pasha Bulker storm, bounced back strongly from the closure of part of the BHP's steelworks and coal-mining downturn, and as a Council we recognise the capacity of industry and organisations clustered in and around our city to help mitigate the effects of natural disasters and industrial downturns in the Asia-Pacific."

University of Newcastle Vice-Chancellor Professor Caroline McMillen said CIFAL Newcastle would cement Newcastle and the Hunter’s position as a globally-engaged hub.

“UNITAR’s decision to locate its CIFAL Training Centre in Newcastle will enhance the Hunter’s global engagement and partnership opportunities, as well as enable us to be part of a network of centres that are focused on tackling some of the world’s key challenges.”

“CIFAL Newcastle will build on the academic strengths of the University in disaster recovery disciplines and help our researchers and partners to shape cutting-edge programs that make a real difference to communities around the world coping with the aftermath of disaster,” said Professor McMillen.

The UON's new graduate certificate in Disaster Risk Reduction recently commenced at the Callaghan Campus and online in Trimester three.  Graduates will be able to conduct disaster risk evaluations and guide development of disaster risk mitigation and management strategies for organisations.

Other cities endorsed as global CIFAL Training Centres include: Geneva, Switzerland (HQ); Edinburgh, Scotland;  Atlanta, United States; Merida, Mexico; Shanghai, China; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Durban, South Africa; Jeju, South Korea; Flanders, Belgium; Plock, Poland; Maghreb, Algeria; Curitiba, Brazil; Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; El Salvador, El Salvador; Quito, Ecuador.

* The UN flag will eventually fly above City Hall following its current restoration.

CIFAL Newcastle:

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