Pioneering GAR13 to focus on private sector, disaster risk

Attendance at two-day meeting of the GAR13 Editorial Advisory Board in Geneva today: Front row (l. to r.): Bina Desai, GAR Project Coordinator, UNISDR; Margareta Wahlström, UNISDR Chief, Andrew Maskrey, UNISDR Head of Risk Knowledge; Randolph Kent, Humanitarian Futures Programme, King’s College, London; Back row (l. to r.) Allan Lavell, FLACSO; Aromar Revi, Director, Indian Institute for Human Settlements; Virginia Garcia-Acosta, Director General, CIESAS, Mexico; Wadid Erian, ACSAD, League of Arab States; Johan Schaar, World Resources Institute; Michelle Gyles-McDonnough, UN Resident Coordinator, Barbados and OECS; Ibrahim Osman, ex-International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies; Youba Sakona, former Coordinator, African Climate Policy Centre.
 
By Denis McClean

GENEVA, 8 February 2013 - Work is entering the final stages on UNISDR's new edition of the Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction (GAR13) which will appear in May this year. It is already being hailed by many peer reviewers as a "pioneering" piece of work because of its focus on risk as a major blind spot for the private sector.

UNISDR Chief Margareta Wahlström, wrapping up a two-day meeting today with the GAR13's Editorial Advisory Board, concluded that: "How the private sector and governments take on board the key findings of this report will influence trillions of dollars of investment in critical infrastructure in years to come.

"UNISDR expects that GAR13 will have a profound effect on how disaster risk is managed by major corporations and small and medium-sized enterprises in the future. We are looking to achieve a paradigm shift from simple business continuity planning and disaster response to integrating disaster risk reduction into business planning in the same way as cyber security or financial audits."

Andrew Maskrey, UNISDR head of Risk Knowledge, who oversees the GAR project, said: "New research has revealed both a significant underestimate in direct economic losses caused by disasters and that indirect losses to businesses are more significant than direct losses."

Current methodology places overall economic losses from disasters over the last twelve years in the range of $1.5 trillion including the record-breaking losses of $400 billion which occurred in 2011.

GAR13 will revise these figures dramatically and will unveil the preliminary results delivered by a new multi-hazard probabilistic risk model which has been under development since late 2011 in collaboration with scientific and technical partners.

GAR13 will feature global estimations of Annual Average Loss (AAL) for earthquakes and tropical cyclone winds as well as 500-year Probable Maximum Loss (PML) values for earthquakes and 100-year PML values for cyclonic winds. The full model including all major hazard types will be included in GAR15.

Mr. Maskrey said: "Some countries are beginning to include disaster risk management in their competitiveness agendas. As business investment becomes more risk sensitive, effective disaster risk management will become a hallmark of competitive countries and cities."

The number of countries maintaining national disaster loss data bases continues to grow with the support of UNISDR. GAR13 features detailed national disaster loss data from 56 countries. A new approach to modeling direct economic losses from this data permits the most complete estimation to date of what is the real cost of disasters.

GAR13 will be featured prominently at the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction which takes place in Geneva from May 21 to May 23 and which will feature a major event focused on the private sector with the participation of eminent business figures.

In addition to the input from the Editorial Advisory Board, the GAR13 has also received feedback from 61 external reviewers representing 68 institutions worldwide. So far 1,824 written comments have been received as the biennial publication, the third in the series, goes into final editing.
The United Nations General Assembly requested UNISDR to facilitate the development of a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction The United Nations General Assembly requested UNISDR to facilitate the development of a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction.
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