Science in the spotlight
The Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction took place in March this year and what the 187 member states have agreed, after a long marathon of negotiations, is a 15-year plan made of seven guiding principles and four priorities for action. Precedence in the post-2015 framework was given to implementing activities that will prevent the creation of new disaster risks and that will better tackle all those risk multipliers such as poverty, poor land management, scarce access to trustable data and technology, lack of building regulations etc. that exponentially worsen the consequences for communities. Special attention was given to understanding risk (Priority 1), with recommendations to promote dissemination of science and to facilitate the adoption of new tools and resources.
The importance of science and technology for DRR policy and practice was also extensively expressed in the Science and Technology Advisory Group Report 2015, which provided key commitments on behalf of the scientific community to assist with the implementation of the Post-2015 Framework.Unfortunately in the past 10 years (during execution of the Hyogo Framework for Action) the involvement of relevant stakeholders in sharing knowledge and information was insufficient and actions undertaken to reduce losses often inadequate, so the “exposure of persons and assets in all countries has increased faster than vulnerability has decreased” (SFDRR – Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030). This is the reason why the new agreement is also calling for stronger mutual reinforcement: stakeholders from government, private sector and civil society are encouraged to mobilize commitments and take coordinated action to reduce risk.The GEM Foundation actively participated in the main working sessions and side events, reporting a great deal of interest in its possible role as an enabling mechanism for implementation of the commitments to understanding risk and supporting the DRR monitoring framework. Specifically, in the monitoring and evaluation process (yet to be defined) risk models will likely play an increasingly important role and GEM is well-placed to contribute. What is more, the very nature of the Foundation based on a private-public partnership seems to perfectly match with the latest recommendations from Sendai to boost collaborative efforts and cross-cutting initiatives.What also clearly emerged from the conference was the increased interest in open data and open source tools and software to assess risk, either as a participatory science or as a technology transfer. Open access to key resources for development and implementation of risk assessments has found a new wave of interest at the 3WCDRR and various organisations from around the world pointed the audience to a number of compelling case studies.
“New generations now are more familiar with the concept of open data and hopefully they will soon recognize its potential” Kuo- Fuong Ma, Taiwan Earthquake Model and member of the GEM Governing Board. What was also evident was the demand for risk assessment tools and guidelines to support evidence-based DRR decisions, the more open and accessible they are, the better they will be.The GEM Foundation will certainly draw on Japan’s conclusions to reiterate its pledge for an earthquake resilient world, renewing its call to develop private-public collaborations in many areas of the world and making data and cutting-edge resources available to everyone.