As the first GEM Working Programme 2009-2013 draws to a close, marking also the end of the mandate of GEM Secretary-General Rui Pinho, it is both reassuring and inspiring to look at the journey that the GEM Foundation, together with its partners and the global community, has made over the past five years.
Pinho is humbled by the quality, quantity and value of the knowledge, data and science that has been developed by the GEM global collaborative effort in a relatively short period of time. “The opportunities we have right now to combine science and technology are unprecedented. Yet, the disasters and the human tragedy we have faced in recent years have shocked us and left us with a sense of helplessness that seems hard to overcome”, said Pinho.
What Pinho describes is bittersweet: while we develop cutting-edge tools, the divide in access to solutions that could mitigate seismic risk and save the lives of millions is broad, despite the efforts of the international community. However, he truly believes GEM is in a unique position to address and bridge that gap between science and risk reduction.
“Only by working together across industries, disciplines and geographies, can the trend be reversed” he adds, “GEM partners, stakeholders and the community at large have committed to working together to deliver on GEM’s mission and make this world more resilient to seismic risk, thus saving lives, economies and securing a more sustainable future globally”.
Five years ago there was scepticism towards the GEM initiative, and rightly so, since nobody had never aimed so high. After five years, GEM is there to remind us to never underestimate the power of a committed group of people.
GEM has truly managed to knock down walls, and gain an international reputation for sound science, cutting-edge technology, openness and transparency, and inclusiveness. The GEM partnership model is key to what GEM has achieved in these years and what it will be able to do in the years to come.
“We have come a long way, but many miles lie ahead”, said Pinho. For this reason, 2014 will be a turning point for GEM, with the delivery of the OpenQuake suite of open tools and resources for earthquake risk assessment. The very ambitious new five-year Working Programme (2014-2018) will be a litmus test for GEM, with its focus on the application of such tools and resources at different geographical scales and contexts around the world, through partnerships with local, national and international organisations.
It is a year-end and a new beginning for GEM. “I am proud to hand over the GEM initiative to the new management, and I know I can count on the commitment and dedication of GEM staff, partners and the international community to take GEM to the next level in seismic risk assessment and mitigation” concludes Pinho.
Despite the changes and the challenges that lay ahead, GEM will remain true to its nature: working together to assess risk.