Monday, March 16, 2015

A call for tougher standards for the built enivronment

A press release from the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction: A UNISDR private sector champion today called for the high standards that are typically applied to major infrastructure projects to be the benchmark for the majority of urban areas that are residential and home to small businesses.

Mr. Aris Papadopoulos, retired CEO for Titan America and the first Chair of UNISDR’s Private Sector Advisory Group, said the areas where the biggest proportion of people live and where the majority of smaller enterprises are located are generally the most exposed and vulnerable locations.

“The ‘built environment’ is where we spend 95 per cent of our lives,” Mr Papadopoulos said. “And it is in residential areas and commercial districts for SMEs (small-medium siz
ed enterprises) where 80 per cent of destruction from disasters occur.

“Unfortunately, building codes present the lowest common denominator and they are often not enforced as well as they are when it comes to larger infrastructure. But let’s look at what the automobile industry did in the 1960s: they embarked on a great change towards safety for cars. Why do we not have the same radical change in our approach to the built environment?”

Mr. Papadopoulos was speaking at the ‘Business and Private Sector: Investing in Resilient Infrastructure’ session at the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction.

He pointed to ‘Five Visions for a Resilient Future’ unveiled at the World Conference by the UNISDR Private Sector Partnership (PSP), which he said was a roadmap to “move from disaster reaction to resilience pro-action”.

The vision comprises the following five elements: strong public private partnerships; resilience in the built environment; risk-sensitive investments and accounting; positive cycle of reinforcement for a resilient society; and private sector risk disclosure....

High water on the Danube near Vienna in 2013, shot by VIEX - Ernest Niedermann, Wikimedia Commons,  under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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