Experts meet on global risk framework

United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction
Participants at today's  Expert Meeting on the Global Risk Assessment Framework at the UN in Geneva
Participants at today's Expert Meeting on the Global Risk Assessment Framework at the UN in Geneva

20 November,  Geneva: Disaster risk reduction experts from around the world today began discussions on a new Global Risk Assessment Framework which can support UN Member States seeking to reduce disaster losses through implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

A key objective of the meeting is to identify what challenges must be overcome to create a global risk assessment framework that is inclusive of all hazards included in the scope of the Sendai Framework, the global plan to reduce disaster losses adopted in March 2015.

Today and tomorrow at the Palais des Nations, Geneva, over 150 experts and DRR professionals are debating key disaster risk management issues that straddle the ongoing efforts to arrest climate change and eradicate poverty.

The two areas of the meeting’s focus are on the demand for risk development at the global level, and in depth examination of the current state of disaster risk modelling and assessment.

Opening the meeting, Mr. Robert Glasser, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction said Member States had demanded a more comprehensive re-examination of the approach to global risk assessment “if potential global losses are to be more accurately assessed and global risk identified and estimated.”

He hoped that participants would be able to reach a better understanding of the needs of end-users “allowing us to identify gaps to be addressed, while identifying and exploring opportunities and challenges for convergence and collective endeavor”.

Mr. Glasser highlighted the need for the establishment of a standing Expert Group on Global Risk Assessment in support of the implementation of the Sendai Framework, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement.

He also called for the secured commitment of partners to contribute to the first iteration of the Global Risk Assessment Framework to feature in the 2019 Global Assessment Report which will be produced in time for the UN High Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development and the Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction, both in May 2019.

Addressing the plenary, Mr. Adam Fysh, UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction - Africa Office, said that if data on global risk profiles was unified and standardized it would be a great improvement. “Information at country level is not good, and not always available in some languages. Data is inaccessible on the internet”, he said.

Mr. Chadi Abdullah, National Council for Scientific Research, Lebanon said: “Analysis of risk models cannot be used without adaptation. The lack of data and historical records are a big setback in developing countries. as is the lack of geospatial location of hazards. There are also big discrepancies in location of disaster risks on databases such as DesInventar and what is being projected elsewhere.”

Mr. Scott Hook, Pacific Islands Forum Sect. said: “We rely on expertise from national offices but capacity is a challenge and access to technology could be better. Access to forecasts is available in urban settlements but not in remote communities. Communicating key messages and updates is difficult.”

Mr. Rogelio Mondragón, INEGI, Mexico, said: “When the earthquake struck this year we used satellite and drone information to show damaged, collapsed, and standing buildings. We also used radar images to show the vertical movement of buildings. Geospatial information also generates indicators.”

Ms. Molly Jahn, University of Wisconsin-Madison said: “We now take an El Niño year and add an agricultural event. This approach to assess food system stability has led to an outlook scenario which is used to explore the future. The past is no longer an adequate guide. We are forecasting regional security by building a demand for a more robust approach to risk that will produce crucial stress test scenarios for hazards in the future. We are modelling systems that learn and generate decision-relevant science.”

Mr. Robert Muir-Wood, Risk Management Solutions, said: “Private sector catastrophe risk modelling is now a US$500 million per annum venture. Multi-hazards are incorporated in such models and licensed to insurers and reinsurers for them to imprint their own risks. These catastrophe models provide a large virtual history for insurers and reinsurers to prepare for risk worldwide.”

He said this type of risk modelling was necessary for disaster risk management, but “we must return every two to three years to see if there has been progress.

The opening discussion was moderated by Mr. Youba Sokona of the South Centre.

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