Having been published the previous day in New York by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, the Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction (GAR to its friends) was launched in London at the Royal Society on 5 March.

The GAR is a comprehensive review and analysis of disaster risk and risk management collated by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR). By monitoring risk patterns, trends and progress in disaster risk reduction the GAR aims to focus international attention and encourage political and economic support for disaster risk reduction. The first GAR was published in 2009 with new reports published every two years since.

The 2015 edition has been brought out earlier in the year than usual so it can fully inform discussions at the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction which begins in Sendai, Japan on 14 March, at which a new international framework on disaster risk reduction will be agreed.

At the London launch event, Andrew Maskrey, Lead Author and Head of the Risk Knowledge at UNISDR gave an overview of the 2015 report (see his presentation). He mentioned the progress that has been made in measuring and assessing risk through developments such as the Global Volcano Model.

Those taking part included Margareta Wahlström, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, Sir Mark Walport, UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor David Satterthwaite from IIED, Robert Muir-Wood of Risk Management Solutions and Ian Clark, who leads on DRR in the European Commission and Professor Virginia Murray.

Robert Muir-Wood’s slides showing how advances in risk modelling now mean that risk can be visualised in the same way as topography – see the photograph above – were particularly powerful.

Armed with the GAR, the Royal Society’s report on Resilience to extreme weather and statement ‘Taking joint action on disasters, development and climate change’, staff from the Society and members of the Working Group for the report will be travelling to Sendai to push for ambitious action on disasters. They will also be working to ensure that the 3 major international frameworks to be agreed this year – on disasters, sustainable development and climate change – are informed by the best available evidence and are aligned and consistent in addressing extreme weather.

Amongst other activities in Sendai, the Royal Society is holding a side-event to discuss these issues.