Draft Hazards Statement Comment Period Open

Below is the revised draft statement on hazards, written by an expert panel of AGU members. The intended use of the statement is to establish AGU policy,  provide policymakers with critical high-level information, and serve as a tool for AGU members in interacting with policymakers. All AGU members are encouraged to read the statement and provide your comments in the form below.

Resilience to Natural Hazards Requires a Partnership Between Scientists, Policy Makers, and Stakeholders

Natural hazards are inevitable, but disasters are not. Scientific research improves our understanding of disasters and the ways in which our society is damaged by hazards.  We create a more resilient society where lives are saved and economic losses are minimized when this information is used in formulating public policy and when we take scientifically informed action towards preparation, response and recovery.

Natural processes on Earth and in space create many hazards, including earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, tsunamis, floods, droughts, fires, heat waves, storms, space weather, and bolide impacts. Some hazards are increasing with time, such as those associated with sea level rise; in such cases, the past may not be representative of the future. Society’s hazard exposure increases with time as the world’s population rises and is more concentrated in cities, and with changes in new construction practices and land-use. Risk is a function both of hazards and society’s exposure and vulnerability. Dramatic evidence of these risks can be found every year in the form of human and economic losses.

To improve resilience to natural hazards, Earth and space scientists, engineers and social scientists together should (i) strengthen basic research into the links between natural hazards, their impacts and their underlying processes via monitoring, observations, analysis, modeling, and forecasting; (ii) analyze the impact of hazards on the built and social environments to determine how to reduce vulnerability, human and economic losses; and (iii) assess disaster risk knowledge to provide sound information to policy makers and to identify research gaps and future challenges.

In turn, scientists, engineers, policy makers, business leaders, emergency managers, educators, and other stakeholders should work together towards translating research findings into actions; understanding and responding to stakeholder needs; and applying new science to improve disaster preparedness, response, and recovery efforts through close communication, coordination, and collaboration.

A partnership for building a resilient society should be based on:

  • RESEARCH: scientific research with strong cooperation between scientists, engineers, other stakeholders and policy makers at all stages of knowledge production from a problem statement to delivery of results and implementation.
  • EDUCATION: enhanced training and education at all levels by implementing a trans-disciplinary approach to disaster science and risk reduction.
  • AWARENESS: heightened public awareness of impacts of natural hazards and the need for scientific research and assessments to determine the best options for risk mitigation and increasing resilience.
  • STRATEGY: cooperation in the development of nationally and regionally focused disaster risk reduction strategies, decision support tools, and information products to enhance informed decision making and outreach.
  • INVESTMENT: investments in risk reduction research and measures that mitigate (if not prevent) disasters and promote resilience; and
  • PREPAREDNESS & RESPONSE: enhancement of disaster preparedness and responses by implementing scientific knowledge.

The comment period closed on 30 September 2015.