UNISDR to set up expert group on risk

United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction
Partipants at the Expert Group on the Global Risk Assessment Framework Meeting, Geneva, 20-21 November 2017 (Photo: UNISDR/SLandelle)
Partipants at the Expert Group on the Global Risk Assessment Framework Meeting, Geneva, 20-21 November 2017 (Photo: UNISDR/SLandelle)

GENEVA, 23 November, 2017 – The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) has welcomed a recommendation to create an expert working group that will focus on the creation of a global risk assessment framework.

At a two-day meeting this week at the Palais des Nations, Geneva, around 150 experts and professionals examined the establishment of such a framework with a view to supporting UN Member States implementing the global plan to reduce disaster losses, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030), which covers natural and man-made hazards, and related environmental, technological and biological hazards.

Mr. Marc Gordon, Head of UNISDR’s Global Risk Analysis and Reporting Unit, said: “The immediate task for UNISDR will be to establish guidelines for the formation of the expert group. We will now develop terms of reference, invite expressions of interest, and call on the group to guide the continual development of a global risk assessment framework and its operational methods.”

“We have to represent the state of the art across a wider spectrum of hazards, exposure, vulnerability, and impacts, via a relevant and simple articulation of risk for application at relevant and appropriate scale across sectors and geographies”, he said.

Ms. Kirsi Madi, Director (UNISDR) said, “The focus now will be on strategic decision-making; specifically, on how future decisions can change existing patterns. This platform of experts will be a convergence of the challenges we face.”

She welcomed the discussions on the issues of gender, culture, and vulnerability that will inform the broader side of decision making. “This represents the ‘softer’ side of progress and will resonate with the theme of the 2018 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HPLF) which will focus on inclusion.”

Ms. Madi said, “As partners, we will also now be able create terms of reference and outcomes to share with senior UN leadership and Member States as a way forward.”

Mr. Ricardo Mena, Chief, Supporting and Monitoring Sendai Framework Implementation Branch (UNISDR), said the group would need to ensure coherence across the New Urban Agenda (2016), the Paris Agreement on Climate Change (2016), and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“We need information that applies to multiple frameworks and targets, as well as to local and national risk reduction strategies. We have to look at what is happening with cities on risk assessment and risk reduction strategies, and look into collaborations with organizations working with cities”, he said.

Among the issues raised was the use of new technologies to help unpack and understand the interconnected nature of risk as well as create a more compelling communication narrative. The use of machine learning, big data - from the public and private sectors, science, research and academic institutions - to examine patterns, and cloud-based information to enhance accessibility, were also recommended.

Participants stressed the importance of a cultural context in discussions stating that engineering and science interpreted outside of such a context will miss risks. And, many agreed that after 10 years there were now new targets, new risks and interdependencies, new standards, new priorities, and possibly even a new role for UNISDR. It was therefore important to attract a broad range of stakeholders to support and take an active interest in the process which should lead to a greater understanding of disaster risk.

“The 2019 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction will have a different flavour that will open up a whole new way of doing things and position itself to be as game changer for the future,” said David S. Green, Program Manager, Disasters Earth Science Division, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

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