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Social Vulnerability Workshop: Making recovery and resilience modeling useful for decision makers and local stakeholders


Jul 31, 2019

Social Vulnerability workshop participants - June 18-19, 2019

More than 20 individuals from NGOs, academia, private and public sectors from US, Canada, Australia, Nepal, China, Germany and Switzerland participated in GEM’s Social Vulnerability workshop held from 18th to 19th of June 2019 in Pavia, Italy.


The aim of the 2-day workshop was to review the methodology and tools for social vulnerability modeling, and to outline future interdisciplinary directions and opportunities for integrating hazard, built-environment, and social dimensions of earthquake risk into a single measurement framework that takes into account quantitative, ‘top-down and stakeholder-based, bottom-up’ approaches.


The workshop also set in motion GEM’s plan to release a Global Social Vulnerability and Integrated Risk (SVIR) map in December this year. Dr. Christopher Burton of Auburn University, USA and GEM’s former SVIR Team Coordinator, facilitated the 2-day workshop and is working with GEM to complete the global SVIR map.


Areas of model improvement: perspectives of participants

Participants identified four key areas that need to be addressed to improve the current SVIR metrics, models and tools to ensure its usefulness at the local level. These are: integration of risk and hazard with social vulnerability modeling; addition of statistical and technical capabilities to GEM’s Integrated Risk Modeling Toolkit (IRMT) and training of its users; using Resilience Performance Scorecard (RPS) as a metric by interlinking it with real data such as no. of hospital beds; and updating of Recovery Modeling Tools to include other hazards such as fire and floods.


“Social vulnerability modeling is most useful for the public sector. Nonetheless, any model with a business interruption component would be good for the insurance sector,” Alex Allman, Munich Re underscoring the value of social vulnerability models in the private and public sectors.


GEM social vulnerability and resilience: future directions

To address the gaps between risk dimensions and stakeholder needs, the group agreed that there is an urgent need to improve communication of existing tools, methods and models with GEM partners and organizations working on similar initiatives in order to encourage stakeholders to use and contribute to its future development.


Developing basic standards for data and methods for resilience and social vulnerability modeling by integrating current and future work into all aspects of the disaster risk reduction (DRR) cycle – prevention, preparation, response and recovery was also considered an important component for future models. By having basic standards, others can conduct assessments at sub-national level.


Other aspects that need attention in the near future are: multi-hazard resilience at community, infrastructural and institutional levels; identification of where indirect economic losses are likely to occur and which areas are most vulnerable; and understanding the drivers of business resilience and recovery within different industries.


What’s next

Several technical papers will be prepared in the coming months as well as an SVIR program plan to outline the way forward for GEM’s work in the field of social vulnerability and integrated risk.

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