As part of its effort to strengthen and coordinate international work on disaster risk reduction, the World Meteorological Organization organized the “First Technical Workshop on Guidelines and Standards for Hazard Monitoring, Databases, Metadata and Analysis to Support Risk Assessment.”
The workshop, from 10 to 14 June, engaged some 30 leading experts, including officials from countries that systematically monitor and analyze hazards; disaster risk reduction focal points from WMO Technical Commissions and Technical Programmes, which are responsible for developing WMO technical guidelines and standards; and organizations with extensive experience in assessing risk and collecting damage and loss data.
Understanding and quantifying risks from natural hazards such as droughts, storms and floods underpins informed decision-making for reducing the impacts of disasters and building socio-economic resilience. Risk analysts therefore need access to rigorous and consistent measurements, databases, metadata and forecasts of hazard characteristics.
Exposure and vulnerability to natural hazards is increasing as more people and physical assets (such as buildings, infrastructure, agricultural land, etc) locate in areas of high risk. Disasters often set back socio-economic development by years if not decades, particularly in less developed countries. Governments and organizations such as WMO are therefore working together through the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction to shift the paradigm from post-disaster relief and response to building greater resilience to disasters.
The workshop at WMO headquarters explored the kinds of hazard information that are needed to analyze risk and geo-reference data on damage and loss. It identified the various approaches now in use around the world and how various countries and organizations define, monitor, detect, map and forecast the different types of hazards. Based on this assessment, the workshop developed recommendations and priorities for developing relevant guidelines and standards for monitoring, detecting and analyzing weather, climate and hydrological hazards. The workshop recommendations will guide WMO’s planning in this area over the next few years. The next step will be to hold the first meeting of the newly established Expert Advisory Group on Hazard-Risk Analysis in early 2014.