Committee on Disaster Risk Management (CDRM)

The WFEO-CDRM addresses issues relating to potential damage of and risks to human life and livelihood through the proper application of technology and engineering approaches.

The disasters which are closely related to all aspects of human life, such as socio-economic activities and the environment should be considered in the CDRM scope of activities, and because there is a broad range of disasters, members of WFEO-CDRM are taking action based on interests, concerns and priorities.

Water-related Disaster Risk Management (WDRM)

Earthquake-related Disaster Risk Management (EQDRM)

Capacity Building for Natural Disaster Risk Management (CBNDRM)

Background

In general, disasters are caused by natural hazards and/or manmade incidents. The disasters referred to hereafter arise as consequence of natural hazards such as earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, droughts, cyclones, typhoons or hurricanes, landslides, forest fires, and volcanic eruptions; they are also caused by manmade incidents such as industrial accidents, power cuts, and air-pollution. These disasters affect human lives directly or indirectly, while having an impact on human societies and natural environments.

There are various phases of disaster risk management (DRM) —from identifying, evaluating, mitigating, and managing disaster risks to adapting to climate change. Risk management includes disaster preparedness programs, disaster response, disaster damage assessment, reconstruction, and rehabilitation. Note that there are various types of damage, including direct and indirect damage, physical and non-physical damage; monetary and non-monetary damages; short-term, mid-term and long-term damage; as well as economic damage and the loss of human life. Hence, approaches to mitigation and adaptation activities should be evaluated for each disaster in cost-benefit terms.

The WFEO Committee on DRM (hereafter the CDRM) helps to develop and implement advanced expertise and practical training to achieve societies that are strong and resilient in the face of disaster, while mobilizing every available resource to reduce disaster risks and potential damage. The extent and level of damage and risk should be discussed and determined within the CDRM. The definition of “risk” is not necessarily restricted to likely dangers. “Risk” also has a broader meaning, related to the mitigation of and adaptation to situations that result from disasters.

It is also important to consider not only single hazards or risks, but also the interrelation between multiple hazards and risks. After the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan, “resilience” has also been an important key word in disaster risk management. It is particularly important to consider the role of resilience (in conjunction with disaster reduction) when considering global climate change where the disaster cannot be prevented by means of current technology and infrastructure. Thus, the concept of DRM can include “resilience.”

Vision for WFEO-CDRM

The CDRM vision is to be a WFEO standing technical committee that professionally and internationally carries out activities to reduce natural disaster risks, from an engineering perspective. It must introduce and recommend useful practices and lessons as well as engineering knowledge and innovative approaches to disaster damage reduction and the promotion of sustainable, sound development. The CDRM should contribute to all parts of the risk cycle, including identification, evaluation, the mitigation of, and the adaptation to disasters, which relate to all aspects of human life as well as to the economy, social activities, and the environment. The CDRM’s priorities include developing comprehensive structural and non-structural measures to increase disaster resiliency and business continuity.

Mission Statement for WFEO-CDRM

As a standing committee of WFEO, the CDRM aims to exchange, share, and transfer knowledge, technology, and expertise in order to reduce disaster risks. It also fosters research and investigations that relate to DRM, including examples of best practice, lessons, and their implementation. The CDRM will create advisory documents, policy papers, guidelines, reports, and booklets.

The CDRM will gather and disseminate DRM-related information that can help WFEO member countries, engineering societies, and leading engineers effectively mitigate risk and help societies adequately adapt to potential risks. The CDRM also helps to build the capacity building of engineers working in these areas, by disseminating information through WFEO member country linkages to decision makers, governmental organizations, engineering societies, and leading engineers. The CDRM also coordinates international DRM efforts, and organizes conferences, presentations, and workshops related to DRM.

Mandate of CDRM

The CDRM shall support the WFEO and the engineering profession worldwide by encouraging and supporting sustainable engineering approaches that reduce disaster risks; it will support engineering innovation that cannot only prevent a risk from turning into a disaster, but also use the threat as an opportunity to transform society, achieving a higher level of sustainability. Transformation can be achieved through an increase in social capital in communities, and the promotion of development, both structural and non-structural, integrated into risk reduction and initiative to build resiliency. The CDRM mandate represents a paradigm shift; it focuses on emergency response and recovery, and on implementing risk management activities before any disaster occurs. This process should be supported, through an integrated approach, by vulnerability monitoring and the development of tools such as standards to measure risks and preparedness levels to build the capacity to respond to disasters.

Operating Principles

The CDRM operates as a knowledge-hub that focuses on recognizing and promoting the worldwide contributions of engineers and practitioners, and on providing need-driven education and information to engineering communities around the world, especially in developing countries. The scientific analysis and advice on reducing risk (a combination of hazards and vulnerability) provided and distributed by the CDRM, provides an opportunity to improve societies and ways of living. In particular, understanding the scientific basis of a particular risk creates a crucial opportunity to make sustainable societal adjustments instead of unsustainable ones. Reducing disaster risk reduces damage that might otherwise impede continued economic development and environmental sustainability.

Sharing best practice and lessons learned, as well as DRM networking and information sharing, are two important operating principles of the CDRM. Natural disasters are categorized as either water-related disasters or earthquake-related disasters for further investigation and discussion in the CDRM.



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