EC: Using science for disaster risk reduction

The third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction kicked off in Sendai, Japan, on 14 March. Several thousand participants are attending the four-day conference where also JRC Director-General, Vladimir Šucha, is presenting the role and potential of science and technology in disaster risk reduction and the future JRC knowledge centre for disaster risk management. Speaking at the conference on Sunday, the JRC Director-General stated that 'The post-2015 UN framework for disaster risk reduction is closely linked to the post-2015 agendas for sustainable development and climate change. The JRC aims to provide coherent scientific support in these three areas and has already been contributing to building a sound knowledge base relevant to disaster risk management. In collaboration with other Commission services, the JRC intends to create a knowledge centre for disaster risk management to further enhance and exploit the evidence base in this area.' 

Index for risk management results 2015

INFORM is introduced as a new way to measure the risk of humanitarian crises and disasters. INFORM can help identify where and why a crisis might occur, which means we can reduce the risk, build peoples’ resilience and better prepare for when crises do happen. The 2015 INFORM risk index identifies countries at risk from humanitarian crises and disasters that could overwhelm national response capacity. It is made up of three dimensions: hazards and exposure, vulnerability and lack of coping capacity. It contains maps, data and country profiles. 

Chernobyl scientists warn radiation can be unleashed by climate change-induced wildfires

Radiation from the 1986 Chernobyl disaster locked away in the upper layers of soil are at risk of being spread through "catastrophic wildfires" caused by climate change as far as Turkey, Italy and Scandinavia, scientists warned.  "In places like Chernobyl and now in Fukushima, we need to prepare for the possibility of these catastrophic fires. And we need to invest in proper management of these areas so they don't go up in smoke," said Tim Mousseau of the University of South Carolina at Columbia, a co-author of the study.

EU gears up for disability inclusive #WCDRR

By Biljana Markova

Riga – The new Latvian Presidency of the Council of the European Union is pressing ahead with plans to strengthen measures across the 28 EU Member States to include persons with disabilities in disaster risk management activities. The Latvian government aims to bring new proposals on inclusion to the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (#WCDRR) in Sendai, Japan, 14-18 March, 2015 The EU lead on disability was demonstrated this week when the Latvian Ministry of Interior played host for two days to a gathering of over 100 experts on disability from around the world including representatives from the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe and UNISDR.

Montenegro launches National Platform for DRR

Montenegro became the 27th country in Europe to launch a National Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, a key step towards implementing the world’s first global blueprint for reducing disaster risk, the Hyogo Framework for Action. “Proving the added value of investment in disaster prevention is no easy task. In fact, it is like trying to prove that a disaster did not happen. Yet investing in prevention is extremely important, and we are committed to build a disaster resilient future, ”said Minister of Interior, Mr. Raško Konjević.

UK: Stronger flood defences for North Wales announced one year on from devastating January storms across the country

A delivery plan to make Wales more resilient to coastal flooding has been launched today (Monday 5 January 2015) by Natural Resources Wales (NRW).  Since the devastating storms that hit communities along the coast of Wales 12 months ago the priority has been to repair and restore defences damaged in the storms.  The delivery plan issued today outlines how the 47 recommendations made by NRW in April 2014, following an in-depth review into the impacts of last winter’s flooding, are being implemented. It details progress to-date and what more needs to be done, by all the organisations involved.

Denmark: National progress report on the implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action (2013-2015)

The preparation of this National Progress Report has been undertaken within the framework of the 2013-15 HFA Monitoring and Progress Review process, facilitated by UNISDR and the ISDR partnership. The progress report assesses current national strategic priorities with regard to the implementation of disaster risk reduction actions, and establishes baselines on levels of progress achieved with respect to the implementation of the HFA's five priorities for action.

'It's important to look at the broader picture' of climate change

In an interview with Charlotta Lomas, Jörn Birkmann, lead researcher at the United Nations University in Bonn and the scientific director of the World Risk Report 2014, said that it's important to look at the broader picture, in terms of adaptation to climate change. "What we have often seen is that governments are responding to extreme events as something that comes from the outside. So you need better early warning systems, you need a better detection of hazards, of cyclones and so also have to invest in how people can prepare themselves for these extreme events. Examples can include insurance regimes, social protection, access to education, access to basic infrastructure and improvement of slum areas."

The Balkans insurance challenge

Following devastating floods and landslides earlier this year affecting over one million people, a major regional insurance conference opens today in Belgrade to highlight the benefits that disaster risk financing can bring to a region where there is a growing culture of disaster risk reduction through implementation of the priorities laid out in the Hyogo Framework for Action. The conference aims to bring together local and international stakeholders in an attempt to provide a forum for a broad and comprehensive overview of the challenges brought by natural hazards in the region which have inflicted heavy economic losses.

By Biljana Markova