- The new repository will help address disaster risks in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
- It consolidates good practices and lessons learned over the past decade in Europe and beyond in the fields of land-use planning and industrial safety
Disasters caused by natural hazards, such as earthquakes, floods, droughts and storms, as well as technological hazards, including industrial and chemical accidents, put human lives, ecosystems and economies at serious risk, with potentially long-term consequences. The security and stability of our societies can be wiped away in minutes as a consequence of such disasters, and the extreme weather events occurring as a result of climate change are exacerbating the risks. All countries – including the most developed – are vulnerable, especially when integrated land management, industrial safety, environmental and public participation measures are not in place. The recent warehouse explosion in Beirut (2020), the dam break in Brazil (2019) and the explosions at a chemical plant in Texas during Hurricane Harvey (2017) are devastating reminders of the consequences of major disasters and a lack of coordinated and preventative action.
Disaster risk reduction is essential to enhancing the resilience of people, communities and the environment. To this end, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) recently launched an Information Repository of Good Practices and Lessons Learned in Land-Use Planning and Industrial Safety. This online hub consolidates the good practices and lessons learned over the past decade by UNECE countries and beyond in the fields of land-use planning, industrial safety, the siting of industrial/chemical facilities, environmental assessment, public participation, information for the public, disaster risk reduction and transboundary cooperation.
The Information Repository is the outcome of years of successful collaboration between the EIB and UNECE, who joined forces once again in 2020 to raise awareness of disaster risks stemming from natural and technological hazards. Together, they have promoted the importance of enhanced and integrated planning and industrial safety procedures to improve the safety and sustainability of our communities and the environment. The Information Repository consolidates and builds on previous joint efforts, notably the development of Guidance on land-use planning, the siting of hazardous activities and related safety aspects; the production of a video showing ‘’The benefits of enhanced coordination and cooperation between land-use planning and industrial safety’’; and the organisation of two seminars on land-use planning and industrial safety held in 2016 and 2018. These efforts have successfully improved and promoted transboundary and cross-sectoral cooperation, the application of land-use planning, environmental and safety procedures, and dialogue amongst countries in the UNECE region.
The good practices and lessons learned presented in the Information Repository highlight the efforts undertaken by countries and organisations to reduce disaster risks and mitigate the potential effects on the health and wellbeing of people, livelihoods and the environment, both within and across borders. This is a step towards improving disaster resilience and achieving sustainable development in line with the relevant UNECE instruments including the Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents, the Convention on Environmental Assessment in a Transboundary Context, and its Protocol on Strategic Environmental Assessment, the Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters and the instruments developed under the Committee on Urban Development, Housing and Land Management.
The Information Repository presents important case studies of how countries are working towards the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030. The examples showcase legislation, policies, plans/programmes, measures and innovative tools that can reduce the exposure and vulnerabilities of populations and the environment with respect to hazards and risks, making cities and human settlements safer, more resilient and sustainable.
So far, over 40 case studies from 25 countries have been included in the Information Repository, including numerous examples from countries in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. The issue of public participation and information in particular is illustrated by case studies from 14 countries. As the Information Repository is an evolving platform, more cases are expected to be added over time.
These initiatives also bolster the ambitions set out in the EIB’s Climate Bank Roadmap and Climate Strategy which aim at increasing the resilience of projects: “The Bank promotes a risk management approach to increase the resilience of assets, communities and ecosystems related to EIB projects. Providing investments in support of disaster risk resilience, climate-resilient urban and rural infrastructure, and initiatives to “Build Back Better” is at the core of what we do, and we are proud of the cooperation and successful outcomes of the work with the UNECE in this respect. I would like to encourage countries to fully benefit from this excellent repository of case studies, in order to improve their integrated policy approaches to sound and disaster-resilient urban planning” - Adina Relicovschi, Head of Environmental Policy, European Investment Bank
“UNECE, with the support of the European Investment Bank – one of our key partners – supports cooperation across the region and works to ensure that social and economic progress go hand in hand with better disaster risk management and environmental stewardship. Through our legal and normative instruments and tools, we at UNECE help our Member States reduce disaster risks, strengthen resilience and cope with and recover from disasters when they occur. We are proud to have successfully created the first unified database for good practices and lessons learned in urban planning, industrial safety, environmental assessment, public participation and disaster risk reduction. I would like to strongly encourage our Member States to review these practices, and consider their applicability to their national contexts, in order to foster more integrated policy-making across these domains. I look forward to continued cooperation within UNECE and with partners like the European Investment Bank to support these national efforts.” Marco Keiner, Director, UNECE Environment Division
Note to editors
To see the case studies and more details about the project and the EIB and UNECE, please refer to the Information Repository available online here.
Find out more about the EIB and its experience with a diversity of innovative financing instruments to support climate action and disaster risk reduction.
For more information about UNECE and its environmental instruments and approaches, please visit the UNECE Environmental Policy webpage, which includes the:
Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents https://www.unece.org/env/teia.html
Convention on Environmental Assessment in a Transboundary Context http://www.unece.org/env/eia/welcome.html
Protocol on Strategic Environmental Assessment unece.org/environment-policy/environmental-assessment
Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice and its Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers https://www.unece.org/env/pp/introduction.html
Committee on Urban Development, Housing and Land Management https://www.unece.org/housing.html