Friday, 26 April 2013
Swiss Re and GEM announces project to improve seismic risk management capabilities in Latin America
The Swiss Re Foundation and the Global Earthquake Model (GEM) Foundation have announced a three-year collaborative project to create what they say is the first ever comprehensive picture of seismic risk in Latin America that takes into account social and economic factors.
The project was announced at this week’s WEF Latin America Forum in Lima, Peru, which brought together more than 600 representatives from business, governments and civil society to discuss the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for the continent.
The project has two overarching goals. Firstly it aims to collect information and develop tools to support seismic risk management-related decision-making in Latin America.
It also aims to build on local research capabilities to develop regional earthquake risk models yielding hazard maps and city specific damage scenarios.
The project effectively started in January 2013 and is expected to finish by the end of 2015.
International and local experts will assess potential physical damage as well as the broader community consequences of earthquakes in this rapidly developing region.
The Swiss Re Foundation is contributing €1m to the project, which will create continent-wide earthquake models and hazard maps but will focus particularly on Lima and Quito, Ecuador.
As part of the project scientists and engineers throughout the subcontinent with various scientific backgrounds will carry out risk assessments.
Michel M Liès, Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Swiss Re Foundation and Group CEO of Swiss Re, said: "Earthquakes are a clear and ever present risk in Latin America. Between 1977 and 2012, these natural disasters nearly claimed 80,000 lives and caused economic losses of more than $37bn. As a reinsurer, our job is to enable individuals, companies and in some cases governments to rebound quickly after a catastrophe. I am therefore excited to see that under the umbrella of Swiss Re Foundation and the GEM Foundation, local researchers from all relevant disciplines will work together to better understand the full impact of an earthquake on such areas as metropolitan Lima or Quito."
He further noted: "Making these cities safer requires effective seismic risk management, which in turn relies on a better understanding of key risk factors and on enhanced public risk awareness. The project aims to improve both."
Rui Pinho, Secretary General of the GEM Foundation, commented: “All GEM partners have a common mission: to provide organisations and people with tools and resources for transparent assessment of earthquake risk anywhere in the world. We are very pleased that the Swiss Re Foundation is financing this important regional project in South America, because it is at the local scale where scientists, decision-makers, organisations and individuals can make a difference and work together to make nations and cities safer from earthquakes.“
The Swiss Re Foundation is a non-profit organisation committed to care and concern for society and the environment.
Initiated by the Global Science Forum of the Organization for the Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the GEM Foundation started its operations in 2009.
It pools the resources of organisations from the public and private sector, as well as key international bodies.
Through global projects, open-source IT development and collaborations in more than 10 regions, GEM has enabled hundreds of leading experts to develop global datasets, best practice, open tools and models for seismic hazard and risk assessment.