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Advancing Global Earthquake Resilience: GEM's Collaborative Efforts Reveal Cutting-Edge Seismic Risk Models


Jun 28, 2023

The 2023 GEM Conference: Are we making a difference?, held at Centro Congressi Bergamo, Italy from June 13th to 14th was a great success. The event gathered over 100 attendees in person, over 180 Zoom participants, and over 160 YouTube live-streaming viewers. This international event focused on earthquake hazard and risk assessment, and their use in informing risk management decisions, bringing together renowned researchers and risk management experts. Key topics covered included GEM's new global earthquake hazard and risk models, maps, and databases, their applications to risk reduction and management, and the future of earthquake risk assessment science and practice.

Mami Mizutori Assistant Secretary-General and Special Representative of the Secretary-General-United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) delivers the opening remarks.

The GEM Conference in Bergamo, Italy provided a platform for experts and stakeholders to discuss the latest developments in earthquake hazard and risk assessment, with the theme “Are we making a difference?”. The conference began with a discussion of the impacts of the recent Turkiye/Syria earthquakes, and the lessons learned for risk modeling and management.

"I knew where people would go and where the resources were, but bringing this information together in a meaningful way to justify my findings was the most difficult component. The flow of information was challenging to maintain, and the stress was overwhelming. However, these events taught me the importance of working systematically to improve our modeling components and be prepared for future big events." Keynote speaker, Sinan Akkar, Principal Catastrophe Modeler - Turk Reinsurance Inc. on the main challenges he faced when assessing the impact of the earthquakes on the Turkey Kahramanmaras - Gaziantep region and how this experience changed his perception of risk.

The conference then focused on the release of GEM’s new global earthquake hazard and risk maps, the first major update since they were first released in 2018. In 2023, the resolution and accuracy of hazard estimates have been increased, and building vulnerability and exposure models have been substantially improved, particularly for developing countries. Most notably, new risk indicators/metrics for displaced persons and human mortality from earthquakes are now included. New and improved country earthquake risk profiles have been developed for 190 countries as well as the interactive maps dynamically comparing the 2018 and 2023 versions of the hazard and risk maps will be made publicly available soon.

John Schneider facilitates the panel discussion on "The role of GEM to 2030".
"We are proud to announce the launch of the new global earthquake hazard and risk models, as well as the Earthquake Scenarios Database, which represent a major leap forward in our collective understanding of seismic risk worldwide. These models and database incorporate the latest advancements in science and technology and are the result of years of hard work and collaboration by the GEM community. We believe that these tools and data will be invaluable to policymakers, practitioners, researchers, and communities around the world as they work to reduce the impact of earthquakes and build more resilient societies." - John Schneider, Secretary General of GEM.

Specifically, the 2023 version of the global seismic hazard includes enhanced consistency among independent models, utilized a new reference grid, and increased the spatial resolution of computed results. The hazard curves now include higher intensity measure levels and more intensity measure types. 

Marco Pagani presents the new global earthquake hazard maps.

The seismic risk model incorporates numerous new datasets and implements a spatial disaggregation algorithm for assets. Global updates were made to account for inflation and population growth. The vulnerability assessment now evaluates building vulnerability and contents separately, reflecting adjustments based on past earthquake scenarios. The risk model covers additional metrics focusing on human impact. Extensive efforts were made to document specific regions and collect data for model verification and validation.

Vitor Silva presents the new global seismic risk maps.

In addition to the updated global maps, a notable addition is the Earthquake Scenarios Database (ESD). This comprehensive collection of earthquake impact and hazard data serves as a reliable resource for verifying models and estimating the consequences of historical events. It includes ground shaking and impact information, OpenQuake ground motion fields, and a compendium of reference sources. The ESD, hosted in the GitLab repository, aims to support earthquake resilience efforts worldwide. []

Catalina Yepes-Estrada presents the earthquake scenarios database.

The conference had sessions devoted to presentations by GEM partners on how models, tools, or data provided by GEM have been used for various applications, such as World Bank applications to improve infrastructure in developing countries, national hazard maps and building regulation, urban risk assessments and planning, insurance risk management, and post-disaster response.(presentations link:

The last session looked into the future of earthquake hazard and risk assessment, with presentations on modeling secondary hazards globally (tsunami, earthquake-induced landslide, and liquefaction), earthquake warning and response, modeling the impact on infrastructure systems, and the growth in and evolution of building exposure. The latter is particularly important for long-term planning, including in the context of climate change risk assessment.

The conference sparked meaningful discussions and fostered collaboration among participants, reinforcing the Conference’s mission to drive positive change on a global scale.

If you missed the event, you can watch the recording and download the presentations, and other conference resources and materials at:

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