Risk Assessment and monitoring

School damage after the Sichuan earthquake, China, 2008

©UNESCO/T. Imamura
School damage after the Sichuan earthquake, China, 2008

The first steps towards disaster risk reduction are understanding the risks and their impacts on all aspects of society and the environment, taking stock of vulnerability and monitoring risk factors. Undertaking comprehensive risk assessments and integrating them within development plans is crucial. Many UNESCO programmes deal in one way or another with the study of natural hazards and the mitigation of their effects. These programmes help us to understand the mechanisms of natural hazards and analyse why some of these hazards turn into disasters.

In order to increase the knowledge base, countries and institutions must stimulate research and application, build capabilities and promote and encourage know-how transfer through partnership and among countries. To enable more consistent comparisons, standard forms of statistical recording of risk factors, disaster occurrences and their consequences must be developed and applied.

The best science and technology in the world are of little value unless they can be turned into effective disaster warnings that ordinary people can understand and serve as a basis to help policy and decision makers develop a more proactive interface between management of natural resources and risk reduction practices. Once they have access to comprehensive information, authorities can make a commitment to reducing risks through mitigation and management plans and the development of proper infrastructures, and the public can better participate in decision-making and implementation processes.

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