RMS Commends Tokyo’s “50 Percent Initiative” for Setting Targets to Reduce Disaster Casualties

Catastrophe models enable cities and countries to set targets for and measure success of disaster risk reduction initiatives

NEWARK, Calif.--()--RMS, the world’s leading catastrophe risk management firm, voiced its support for Tokyo’s recently-announced plan to halve expected earthquake casualties over the next ten years, urging other cities and countries to follow suit in setting specific, measurable disaster risk reduction targets.

“It is very encouraging to see Tokyo’s leadership in driving meaningful, measurable action to reduce the impact of disasters,” said Dr. Robert Muir-Wood, chief research officer at RMS. “While the 50 percent national target for reductions in disaster casualties appeared in the draft of the Sendai Declaration on Disaster Risk Reduction, it did not make it to the final version signed last month. We hope Tokyo’s ‘50 percent initiative’ will inspire momentum from other cities and countries to step up and make specific disaster reduction commitments measured through the use of catastrophe models.”

Through risk modeling, Tokyo will assess its progress against the casualty reduction goals without any lives being lost. The city will model the performance of building stock in terms of collapse rates, fire starts and fire spread, which could result from a magnitude 7.3 earthquake under the city, comparable to a scenario that occurred in 1855.

“The impossibility of measuring future disaster risks with only a few decades of historical data led to the expansion of catastrophe modeling within the insurance industry after 1990,” said Muir-Wood. “Now these same models are being employed to set and measure targets for disaster risk reduction. Risk modelers such as RMS will need to facilitate this by further developing tools and capabilities to model and audit disaster risk reduction targets.”

RMS has been modeling earthquake casualties in a range of countries, including Japan, since 2007, and first outlined the 50 percent target for casualty reductions, set and measured through the use of catastrophe models, in a report for the UK Department for International Development (UK DFID) in December 2012. The idea was amplified and expanded in a 2014 report also produced for the UK DFID, written in collaboration with the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) think tank and Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), which showed that real progress in reducing future disaster impacts cannot be measured simply from a decade of actual disasters. For example, fewer than ten people died in earthquakes in Haiti through the whole of the 20th century, yet more than 200,000 died in a single afternoon in 2010.

“We would like to see more countries and cities set similar targets for reducing the cost of disasters relative to national or city-wide GDP, which would also be measured using catastrophe models,” said Muir-Wood.

About RMS

RMS models and software help financial institutions and public agencies evaluate and manage catastrophe risks throughout the world, promoting resilient societies and a sustainable global economy.

Learn more at www.rms.com and follow us @RMS.

Contacts

RMS
Cynthia Horiguchi, +1 510-320-9770
cynthia.horiguchi@rms.com
or
RMS
Alexia Russell, +44 77 88 394 219
alexia.russell@rms.com

Contacts

RMS
Cynthia Horiguchi, +1 510-320-9770
cynthia.horiguchi@rms.com
or
RMS
Alexia Russell, +44 77 88 394 219
alexia.russell@rms.com