Man-made and technological disasters, whether caused by natural or man-made hazards, can cause severe damage to individuals, communities, economies, supply chains and the environment. Moreover, they may trigger secondary disasters, aggravating initial impacts. Industrial facilities, nuclear and other technological installations and transport systems are all vulnerable to natural hazards, and their design is not always adequate to withstand current or future impacts. In purely economic terms, the cost of natural and man-made disasters worldwide has been estimated at US$ 175 billion for 2016 alone, with US$ 9 billion of that stemming from man-made disasters. This number has risen from previous years and continues to grow due to increasing disaster risk as a result of factors such as climate change, rapid urbanization and industrialization.
To improve the management of these risks and to strengthen resilience, a new Implementation Guide for Man-made and Technological Hazards under the “Words into Action Guidelines” series was launched today in the framework of the Tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties of the UNECE Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents.
The Guide was developed as part of a major inter-agency coordination effort, led by UNEP/OCHA JEU, with significant inputs from UNECE, OECD, EU Joint Research Centre and other partners, under the UNISDR umbrella.
At the launch of the Guide, H.E. Vojislav Šuc, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Slovenia, stressed the importance of such inter-agency coordination. UNISDR Director, Kirsi Madi said: “Major technological accidents such as the Bhopal gas tragedy in 1984, … the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, clearly illustrate the urgent need to tackle these hazards within the overall frame of inclusive disaster risk management.”
The Guide takes a practical approach in addressing man-made and technological hazards and builds upon previous analyses and recommendations relating to such hazards in the context of disaster risk reduction. It offers a targeted set of practical activities for implementation at national and local levels. It also clarifies the roles and responsibilities of specialized stakeholders.
Rudolf Müller, OCHA Chief of Emergency Services Branch, acknowledged UNECE’s contribution to the challenges of managing industrial accidents through the Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents. He praised the guide as a contribution “to strengthen national and local disaster management plans, to support training and capacity building and to raise awareness of the risks and impacts of man-made and technological disasters.”
In addition to a range of case studies and experience under the Industrial Accidents Convention, including through the Joint Expert Group on Water and Industrial Accidents together with the Water Convention, the Guide also highlights UNECE’s work on the transport of dangerous goods.
The Guide is available at https://www.preventionweb.net/publications/view/54012