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Hazard Definition launch: Working together to turn our understanding of hazards and risk into solutions to reduce risk


Sep 21, 2020

The UNDRR-ISC Sendai Hazard Definition and Classification Review Technical Report was officially launched online on 29 July 2020 with John Schneider participating in a high-level panel discussion led by Mami Mitzutori, UN Special Representative for DRR, and Heidi Hackman, CEO of the International Science Council. John was also a member of the report’s technical working group, chaired by Virginia Murray, UK Department of Public Health, where his principal contribution was to review and revise the final report.


Accompanying the report are 318 Hazard Information Profiles (HIPs), which were written and reviewed through the contributions of over 500 hundred technical experts globally. GEM took primary responsibility for the development of HIPs for Earthquake and associated subhazards, with GEM scientists Richard Styron, Kendra Johnson and Robin Gee authoring HIPs for ground shaking, liquefaction, surface rupture/fissuring, and subsidence and uplift.


The report was developed in response to the challenge of the broad and complex nature of hazards which lack standardized definitions across the world. Standardization and clarification are needed to allow hazard and risk information to be combined and compared, and disaster information to be managed, and accordingly to enhance risk reduction policies and operational risk management practices. The hazard definition project identified the full scope of hazards relevant to the Sendai Framework and developed descriptive and practical definitions of these hazards.


John Schneider, GEM Secretary General, participated in the launch to share insights on behalf of the hazard scientific community said, “A significant achievement of this project was to bring the hazard science community together in the context of assessing and understanding risk to inform the global agendas for sustainability, risk reduction and adaptation. In order to do so, it was necessary to broaden the definition of hazards to include human activities.”


He further added, “…the hazard definition process demonstrated the importance of linking institutions and networks within an international framework. This framework is necessary to maintain and support the monitoring, analysis, maintenance and dissemination of information. The definition is simply the starting point for that institutional ownerships of hazards, and the definitions are the first step in developing a coordinated process, in developing open and accessible databases, and in developing ultimately consistent guidelines, methodologies and interoperability standards.”


“It also meant integrating traditional geological and hydrometeorological hazards which many of us in the DRR community were most familiar with. Together with technological, health, social disruption and environmental degradation, the resulting definitions provide part of the common language for understanding risk to society and provide the basis for developing information methodologies and tools for assessing and understanding risk.” John’s full speech is available .


The new report is an important stepping stone for the international community to achieve sustainable development within an increasingly complex, interconnected and systemic risk landscape.


One of the key themes to come out of the webinar was the need for science, policy, community and the private sector to work together to achieve the goals of the Sendai Framework. The webinar launched and presented the detailed report, including six targeted recommendations.


To watch the webinar, click.

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