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GEM's Vision for a Resilient Future: Insights from Helen Crowley, GEM’s new Secretary General


Jul 31, 2023

In an interview with Helen Crowley, the new Secretary General of the Global Earthquake Model (GEM) Foundation, we delve into the organisation's ambitious vision for a world that is resilient not just to earthquakes, but to all natural hazards. The new leader shares insightful perspectives on GEM's potential to make a difference, expand its impact, foster partnerships, and promote sustainable disaster risk reduction.

Going Beyond Ground Shaking Hazard: Embracing a Multi-Hazard Approach

GEM aims to widen its scope by collaborating with other communities focusing on earthquake-related hazards such as landslides, tsunamis, and liquefaction. The goal is to integrate these hazards into the global hazard and risk models, ensuring a comprehensive assessment of natural threats.

Enhancing Data Sets for Holistic Risk Assessment

Addressing the needs of various natural hazards communities, Helen emphasises the importance of developing a hazard-agnostic exposure model at a global level. This versatile exposure model would cater to different hazards, like floods, and utilise attributes and resolutions necessary for accurate risk evaluation. Helen believes that leveraging artificial intelligence and crowdsourcing could play a pivotal role in this endeavour.

Building a Collaborative Ecosystem: Strengthening International Partnerships

Collaboration and partnerships are the bedrock of scientific advancements. Helen emphasises the need for GEM to play a central role in uniting the global natural hazards community. By fostering international collaborations, GEM can amplify its impact on disaster risk reduction and sustainable development.

Leading the Way: GEM and the World Conference on Earthquake Engineering

With Milan set to host the next World Conference on Earthquake Engineering, GEM's participation will be instrumental. GEM will organise technical sessions, showcasing its work and contributions: highlighting the importance of furthering earthquake engineering through scientific discussions, knowledge, and experience sharing among the GEM community.

Beyond Models: Implementing Risk Reduction Strategies

"GEM's journey does not end with the release of seismic hazard and risk models. It's essential to transform these models into practical applications for disaster risk reduction. Collaborating with partners like the USGS, GEM already initiates efforts to define seismic actions for global design. Additionally, by assessing the risk using vulnerability models for retrofitted buildings, we can demonstrate cost-effective disaster reduction strategies." - Helen Crowley, GEM Secretary General

Unveiling the Environmental Impact: Sustainable Development through Retrofitting

Helen further sheds light on GEM's plans to explore the environmental impact of earthquakes. By assessing emissions caused by post-earthquake reconstruction, GEM aims to promote sustainable development. Leveraging its models, the organisation will advocate for retrofitting using sustainable methods to achieve a reduction in global greenhouse emissions.

The new GEM Secretary General's vision reveals a multifaceted strategy, focused on embracing a multi-hazard approach, strengthening partnerships, and ensuring the practical application of GEM's models for sustainable disaster risk reduction. By venturing beyond conventional boundaries, GEM endeavours to create a resilient world for all natural hazards.

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