Natural and man-made disasters threaten millions of people every year and cause billions of property damage. How much do we know about them? And how can we use that knowledge to save lives and money? A recent report, compiled by the European Commission's Science and Knowledge Service (JRC), seeks to answer these and other questions and to help prepare for the time when disaster strikes.
The report 'Science for Disaster Risk Management 2017: knowing more and losing less' is the flagship product of the European Commission's Disaster Risk Management Knowledge Centre (DRMKC), presenting the state-of-the-art in disaster risk management. It contributes to UN efforts to strengthen prevention, preparedness and response to calamities and it is also a key part of the Science and Technology Roadmap of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. The report is presented at the UN Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Cancun.
What role for science in managing disasters
Science plays a key role in preventing disasters, preparing for the ones that cannot be prevented and recovering from them. Using already existing knowledge more widely would save the lives and livelihoods of millions of people around the world. The report contributes to this objective by presenting the best available knowledge in various fields of Disaster Risk Management, such as risk assessment and risk communication, across the whole spectrum of hazards (earthquakes, tsunami, floods, extreme weather, epidemics, nuclear and chemical accidents, etc.) and throughout the entire disaster risk management cycle.
What do we know and what can we do more
The report also highlights knowledge gaps and identifies needs for further research in order to better understand disasters and improve the effectiveness of our responses, for instance the application of internet of things in this field. The Disaster Risk Management Report analyses areas in which science and knowledge can be further integrated into policy, one example being more interoperability through development of common standards and risk assessment methods. It also identifies public Private Partnerships for risk-sharing as an area of potential improvement that when addressed can save more lives, minimise damage and improve resilience.
The European Commission's Disaster Risk Management Knowledge Centre was launched only 6 months after the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 was set up. The report 'Science for Disaster Risk Management 2017: knowing more and loosing less' is based on the contributions of 273 scientists from 26 countries and 172 organizations and was made possible through the collaboration between 11 services of the European Commission.
At the UN Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, the JRC presented also the Atlas of the Human Planet 2017, a comprehensive study of global population exposure to natural hazards, spreading over the last 40 years.