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NGI presented first global tsunami risk map at UN conference

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NGI presented first global tsunami risk map at UN conference

Probable Maximum Loss in million US dollars from a tsunami of 500 years return period, a global overview. (Graphics: NGI)

NGI, the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute, has contributed to the first tsunami risk analysis towards the world’s coastal populations and infrastructures. The new risk analysis was recently presented at a United Nations conference on global disasters and risk reduction, held in Japan.

The Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction took place in the Japanese city of Sendai earlier this spring. The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 is the main outcome of the conference. It is the United Nation’s new master plan for coping with the risk of future disasters.

The purpose of the conference was partly to take stock of ten years of global work to improve preparations for the impact of disasters, known as the Hyogo framework, and partly to agree on an updated global response framework for disaster risk reduction. T

Tsunami risk in Global Assessment Report 2015
The main findings and conclusions of the newly released UN 2015 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction (GAR15) were presented at the Sendai conference. NGI has been in charge of the computation of the report’s section on tsunami risk, in close collaboration with Geoscience Australia and CIMNE (The International Center for Numerical Methods in Engineering).Senior engineer and tsunami expert Finn Løvholt, NGI, presented this section at the Sendai conference.

“We have analyzed the overall economic risk and the danger of loss of human life in all parts of the world that are susceptible to tsunamis,” says Finn Løvholt, who has been part of the expert team behind the UN Global Assessment Reports since 2007.

He adds:”Tsunamis are mainly caused by earthquakes, and the present analysis has therefore been limited to these sources. For the first time however, we study earthquakes of different return periods. This is also the first global analysis taking into account not only the possible scale of the tsunami impact, but also predicting the losses they impose. We therefore have a more complete tsunami risk map.”

Japan and several of the smaller island nations in the Pacific Ocean are the countries most at risk from tsunamis, according to Finn Løvholt. His risk maps have been met with a lot of interest internationally, and he has been interviewed by Japanese media.

Better cooperation
Margareta Wahlström, the head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), expressed her hopes that the member states will agree on ways to better cooperate and finance the work on disaster risk reduction, and also to coordinate efforts to deal with climate adaption.

Wahlström stated that “Risk, development and sustainability are closely linked to each other. If we can keep that very strongly as an integrated part of the rest of this year, we will come out with a better foundation for sustainability in 2016.”

Sendai is the first of series of international meetings this year at which major global development and climate change issues will be discussed and agreed.The venues are Addis Ababa and New York, with the concluding conference in Paris in December 2015.

At the launch of the GAR15 report, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, stated that the economic losses from disasters have reached an average of USD 250 – 300 billion annually. He added that, according to GAR15, an annual investment in disaster risk reduction of USD 6 billion can result in savings of up to USD 360 billion.

The GAR15 report:

- The United Nation’s 2015 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction (GAR15) was launched earlier this spring by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
- NGI, the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute, has been in charge of the report’s section on risk assessment related to tsunamis.
- The Third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) took place in Sendai City of Miyagi Prefecture in Japan, 14 – 18 March 2015. Sendai is 58 km from Fukushima Daiichi, the power plant that was knocked out by the earthquake and tsunami, 11 March 2011. The victims of the Tohoku tsunami 4 years ago were commemorated at the opening of WCDRR.
- The conference was organized by UNISDR, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction.
- The aim was to update the landmark agreement reached a decade ago in Hyogo, Japan, in the wake of the disastrous Indian Ocean tsunami.The new master plan for disaster risk reduction, covering the period 2015-2030, is known as the Sendai framework.
- It has been estimated that 700,000 persons have lost their lives as a result of natural disasters in the last ten years.



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The Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI) is a leading international centre for research and consulting within the geosciences. NGI develops optimum solutions for society, and offers expertise on the behaviour of soil, rock and snow and their interaction with the natural and built environment.
NGI works within the markets Offshore energy; Building, construction and transportation; Natural hazards, and Environmental Engineering.
NGI is a private foundation with office and laboratory in Oslo, branch office in Trondheim, and daughter companies in Houston, Texas, USA, and Perth, Western Australia. NGI was established in 1953.

Street address: Sognsveien 72, Oslo. Post: P O Box 3930 Ullevaal Stadion, NO-0806 Oslo.