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general news | 20 Jun 2012

GEM contributing to G20's disaster risk management agenda

Responding to a G20 request, the publication brings together the experiences of G20 countries in protecting their populations and assets against natural hazards. It includes contributions by fifteen G20 members and invited countries as well as the OECD. A World Bank paper introduces the country experiences and sets out the challenges and opportunities to address rising disaster losses with more accurate risk data and better informed decision making.

GEM fully supports the G20 disaster risk management agenda, of which this publication is the first deliverable, and believes that the initiatives being undertaken under careful guidance of the Mexican government, couldn’t have been more timely. We are very pleased to have been mentioned in the introductionary World Bank paper, the OECD chapter and in the contribution of Germany and to be able to actively contribute to the debate on building disaster resilience and the role of risk assessment herein.

Having recently had the opportunity to participate in a special roundtable of the OECD’s Insurance and Private Pensions Committee on disaster risk management has only strengthened this commitment. The roundtable supports development another deliverable of the G20 DRM agenda; a methodological framework for improving risk assessments and financing to guide disaster risk management and financing strategies.

By participating in the wider debate, we ensure that what we do links up with the needs expressed by countries and organisations and that we complement and collaborate with other initiatives, so that we can continuously enhance our common efforts.The paper of the World Bank, an associate participant of GEM, reads on page 23: To promote and expand the use of models to new areas, an effort should be made to define standards for data and to build open and public hazard, exposure, and vulnerability databases to allow the development and agreement on risk metrics that support comparability and interoperability of the models and their outputs. One such initiative toward developing a standardized model is the Global Earthquake Model.

GFZ Potsdam, representing Germany on GEM’s Governing Board, starts the section ‘Natural Hazards: Meeting the Challenges of Risk Dynamics and Globalization’ (p.163) as follows: This section addresses the problem by reviewing the main drivers behind the changing nature of hazards and risks, identifying shortcomings in existing models, and calling for efforts to develop multitype risk assessment schemes and scenarios for the mapping and monitoring of disaster risk on a global scale that are also capable of predicting future risk. To meet such demands, the Global Earthquake Model (GEM), a global initiative dealing with global earthquake risk, may serve as a suitable template.A note on GEM was made in the section of OECD’s chapter on quantification of disaster losses and exposure, and in particular the tracking of social and economic effects of catastrophic events. With the activities that we have recently initiated on social vulnerability and disaster resilience, aimed at estimating risk holistically by incorporating metrics of indirect economic loss, resilience and social vulnerability for the first time on a global scale, we hope to contribute even further to making risk measurable and therefore actionable.

Being the incubator of GEM, through its Global Science Forum, the OECD has followed us from the inception and now participates as an associate participant.We hope that the various mentions of GEM inspire others and lead to more synergies, not only because of what we do, but also because of how we do it – leveraging science for the benefit of society through true collaboration and through bottom-up and transparent development of tools and resources for countries and organisations, but also for individuals. Tools and resources that we can use and enhance together. This way risk analysis and management can become a shared responsibility and we can work together on creating a culture of preparedness.

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