World Bank’s Groundbreaking Report on Resilient Building 26

Tuesday, April 12th, 2016
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The World Bank has launched a ground breaking publication on disaster mitigation and disaster recovery.

The publication, Building Regulation for Resilience – Managing Risks for Safer Cities was written by a co-author of this article, World Bank senior operations officer Thomas Moullier. This paramount World Bank initiative has involved extensive international consultation with disaster recovery and disaster mitigation knowledge tsars and experts.

The report is a vital resource for those who operate in the disaster alleviation and mitigation space. It is critical that the report finds its way to disaster avoidance and mitigation policy makers throughout the world as it identifies a great many factors that increase the risk of environmental induced disaster and outlines ways by which one can change the disaster reduction landscape.

One of the reasons the findings in the report are so compelling is that the World Bank has been able, through its unique international web of networks, to capture a remarkably high level of global expertise in the research and consultation phase. Building Regulation for Resilience provides a best practice blue print for ideas on how to overhaul building regulations, the raison d’etre of which is to minimise human casualty and economic loss within disaster prone jurisdictions.

The launching of the Building Regulation for Resilience report is timely because there is very little that is static about disaster momentum in the third millennium. Environmental disasters have assumed a serial dimension, borne out by the fact that over the last 30 years, the planet’s disaster profile has taken a profound turn for the worst with more than 2,500,000 lives having been lost. The economic reverberations have been extraordinary, as almost $4 trillion has been swallowed up by natural disasters. One of Moullier’s strongest contentions is that the impacts of disasters pose a fundamental threat to the World Bank’s  twin goals of poverty eradication and the boosting of shared prosperity.

A case in point is Haiti, where losses of upwards of 120 per cent of GDP were visited upon an already vulnerable nation after the devastating earthquake in 2010. The economic “after shocks” and ruptures of social disenfranchisement and fracturing are still being felt today. Unless the international community acts with alacrity in the coalescence and mobilisation of its resources to develop best practice building regulatory protocols that are sensitive to the bespoke challenges unique to developing nations, the enormous human and economic cost of disaster will continue its ascending trajectory.

Moullier warns  that until the international community systematically embraces the disaster reduction and alleviation challenge, the planet won’t be able to sustain the kinds of economic and social progress that the World Bank and its partners on the ground are looking to build, especially in the world’s most vulnerable communities. Moullier contends that this imperative is all the more compelling as a changing climate coupled with the profound reshaping forces of population growth and population migration, along with rapid urbanization, will “fertilise” and compound existing risks.

The report highlights the fact that the economic impact of disasters is concentrated in rapidly growing middle-income economies due to increasingly exposed and valuable assets. In these countries, the average impact of disasters equaled one per cent of GDP between 2001 and 2006, or 10 times higher than the average in high-income countries for the same period. The impact is overwhelming in poorer societies, which account for 85 per cent of global fatalities.

The report reveals that money and finite resources to deal with disasters haven’t always gone to the right places in the past 20 years. For every $100 spent on development aid, a minuscule 40 cents has been invested in systemic risk reduction (dealing with the ex-post consequences of destruction (relief efforts, humanitarian, reconstruction and the like.)

Investment into planning and specifically the enhancement of the building regulatory capacity and systemics can help shift the focus from a disproportionate commitment to ex-post measures to financing measures that reduce the destructive impact of disasters in the first place.

There are a number of key questions that have emerged, most notably:

How can the benefits of the regulatory system in terms of increasing the safety of buildings, not only for major disasters but also for the more chronic risks related to fire, structural safety, public health (the silent disasters) be applied?

How can the benefits of more orderly building and land use management in rapidly growing areas in the developing world be brought to bear?

In concluding, Moullier points out that large-scale losses in human lives and economic assets are certainly not inevitable. If we take seismic risks alone in the 21st century, implementing the proposed agenda could spare the lives of 2.6 million people in the developing world.

“In short, what the proposed agenda is about is an accelerated path to regulatory maturity for developing countries,” he said. “This path would avoid a protracted evolution based on tragedy and failure. Instead, by adapting the lessons learned in high-income countries to the local context, low- and middle-income countries could leapfrog toward effective regulation and risk mitigation strategies.”

Article by Conjoint Professor Kim Lovegrove F.A.I.B and Thomas Moullier, Senior  Operations Officer at the World Bank Washington for Sourceable.
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  1. James O'Donnell

    Informative read. The article is beneficial as it highlights the main objectives from the Building Regulation for Resilience report which focuses on what appropriate policies can be implemented to mitigate the effects of natural disasters. The article notes that the implementation of regulations and systemics should be introduced to monitor the development and safety of buildings with a focus on disaster recovery and disaster prevention.

  2. Marie Fedor

    Timely call for necessary changes to building codes and regulations in order to ensure that our built environments can withstand the pressures of a new era of planetary climate behaviour.

  3. Sean McCarthy

    A report such as this has been wanting for some time. It throws open a whole new perspective on the role of regulations, and also makes one think how regulations need to fulfil and meet basic human rights needs. Just because an area can be deemed a "poor population" does not mean it should be bereft of a basic human right such as safety in the built environment.

  4. Robert Whittaker AM FAIB

    The board of the Centre for Best Practice Building Control (CBPBC) congratulates Thomas Moullier for his outstanding contribution as a CBPBC Panel Member and lending his considerable reputation (and that of the World Bank) to our endeavours in raising building standards. His efforts and that of Kim Lovegrove will make a difference both within our region and across the globe.

  5. Peter Tomkinson

    Unfortunately the World Bank itself is one of the players in this issue as its record of distortion through coercion with national financial and development issues have often led to massive underdevelopment and impoverishment for large sections of the population, the poorer sections almost exclusively in many countries. Why? Foreign debt loads on developing and other nations, plus infrastructure development in favour of export production to service foreign debts has taken far too much out of the GDP leaving almost nothing for any development that would help in disaster mitigation. Haiti is a good example I suspect. The IMF and World Bank do NOT have a good track record in helping countries develop.

  6. Georges Nicolas

    Excellent and timely work. Very valuable lessons. Congratulations to the authors.

  7. Abdulquadri Ade Bilau

    Very informative and timely. The article and report is beneficial!

  8. David Chandler

    Kim this report is another pointer to the transformations now reshaping the Modern Construction era. The globalisation of construction is occurring simultaneously with the industrialisation and digitisation of the industry. Many parts and many services coming from jurisdictions all around the world. This will challenge those still using minimum standards to defend the status quo. Eventually those that want to break out of Traditional Construction will look to what will make them world class and different. At the same time the changes in the way construction is organised, procured and assembled is not lost on the insurance industry. With global construction headed to US $15 trillion turnover by 2025 its a big cake to have a part of. I predict we will soon see insurance companies offer a global risk wrap for the design, delivery and warranty of buildings that offers the best constructors an important new customer value proposition that avoids the uncertainty and finger pointing of insurance policies such as Professional Indemnity and Home owner Warranty Insurance. These trends are already emerging via the UK's Build0ffsite who have launched BOPAS to enable offsite payments for work increasingly being performed off-site and off-shore. Interestingly at last weeks PrefabNZ's CoLab2016 the emergence of a theme around construction companies eventually becoming technology businesses was explored. Still early days but it is estimated that fewer than 1% of construction components have IP addresses. This concept unleashes a new way of thinking about buildings , how they integrate with their client needs and how they self monitor in service. This would make traditional construction a relic of history. Bring it on I say!

  9. Emily Martins

    Professor Kim Lovegrove's poignant article is eye-opening to say the least. The fact that only 40 cents from every $100 spent is invested in systemic risk reduction is extraordinary!
    Well done to Sourceable for including the hyperlink in the article to the Building Regulation for Resilience Report. The Report is of international momentum and fellow readers should be well encouraged to share and comment on the article and the Report.

  10. Robert Whittaker AM FAIB

    Kim Lovegrove's follow up, his recent address to the World Bank in Washington, has added impetus to its goals

  11. Matt Campbell

    "$4 trillion" is an extraordinary statistic, especially considering that it's the middle to lower wealth communities that these disasters seem to strike. Changes are needed to ensure that a higher percentage of each dollar is being put to effect.

  12. James O'Donnell

    This report is a game changer and is getting more and more traction. It is a fantastic comparative analysis instrument and will play a pivotal role in mobilising awareness in a desperately under resourced area. Well done World Bank.

  13. Poornima

    Fantastic article bringing across the low-and middle-income countries disasters.

  14. Tsigereda Amaleyu Gebrehana

    Fantastic article sourceable, well done getting World Bank senior offical to provide poignant insights. Speaking as an Ethiopian, the developing world is in desperate need of proactive disaster recovery initiatives. Better to preempt and avoid rather than respond to disaster. Preemptive action saves lives and when lives are lost in Ethiopia sadly it is often in the hundreds of thousands. An international disaster recovery protocol and enlightened and bespoke building regulations that are sensitive to the unique challenges of this part of the world are essential to nation building and a reduction in human misery. It is reassuring to see that the World Bank is showing leadership in this area and the hyperlinked report attached to the article is a very good comparative analyses resource to law reformers and policy makers-a must read.

  15. David Lawn

    The issues put foward by the authors and World Bank are so important but it'll take more than regulations. Systemic corruption and chaotic legal systems where millions of internal migrants build shanty towns without proper planning, sanitation methodology is a volatile cocktail. The West must engage as a global citizen as these massive challenges affect us all. As an aside when I was in Egypt I was told that people never finish building their abodes as to finish would mean you have to pay a tax.

  16. Supriya Jadhav

    Disaster avoidance and not just disaster recovery is the critical key here! Great article, an eye opener, especially for developing economies that are more affected by natural disasters. This report is the need of the hour across the globe. Congratulations to the World Bank for bringing it to our attention.

  17. Great commentary stream, very diagnostic. Great to see that commentary stream is becoming multinational. It is good to see that the readership of the report is gaining momentum. The last thing one wants is a report of this gravitas ending up in a "cyber vault". It needs to be read, circulated and utilised as a diagnostic and constructive instrument for policy makers and reforming jurisdictions.

  18. Andrew Heaton

    It seems from the above that a large part of the problem is not so much that we don't know how to implement effective resilience measures but indeed that the resilence knowledge and expertise which already exists is largely not getting through to all places.

    Part of the problem may be that broader planning issues as a whole are in many cases being neglected. Take for example, the case of Dar Sallam in Tanzania. According to a recent report in The Economist, the city through urban sprawl is largely growing by people simply plonking down new housing pretty much anywhere and everywhere before any kind of plan for water or electricity supplies is in place and often without even leaving anywhere near enough space for decent capacity roads. If as in this example we can't even use basic urban planning principles to get the right infrastructure for the ordinary course of business in some cases, is it any wonder that we are not always getting disaster resilience right.

  19. Kim lovegrove

    Andrew your comment that the "resilience knowledge and expertise which already exists is largely not getting through to all places" is profound, "a whole in one as it were". The expertise is out there, it comes from an international reservoir and tends to coalesce in a time of crises. But here's the thing how does one know where to find the knowledge tsars; they "aren't in the yellow pages". One of the side benefits of the reports is a great many international experts can be identified in the acknowledgements and footnotes of the report that Thomas has sighted.

  20. Vittoria Franchini

    This report really highlights the importance of acting today to reduce disaster risk and not wait for the next disaster to strike. The dark picture it paints in describing the destructive force of natural and man-made disasters is concerning, particularly as urban populations grow at inexorable rates and the effects of climate change, which have always been difficult to grasp, are quickly translating into tangible large-scale disasters. But most of all I appreciate the report's focus on the unique opportunity we have to invest in adequate regulatory frameworks and avoid losing thousands of lives in the future. There is no rational or compelling reason why we should not be addressing these issues and improving building regulations around the world.

  21. Michael de Lint

    Kim Lovegrove’s excellent article focuses attention on an extremely important and timely publication by the World Bank Group on the challenge of improving building resilience. Thomas Moullier in collaboration Fred Krimgold, has achieved something quite remarkable. As one of the contributors to this report, I appreciate Thomas’s difficult task in pulling together a comprehensive report on this complex topic. Building regulatory systems are inherently complex – much more so than many may realize. They must deal with multiple objectives, multiple stakeholders and many vested and divergent interests. These objectives include housing affordability, improved building accessibility and energy efficiency. Moreover, in the public policy realm, building safety must compete with other safety and public policy priorities in the areas of transportation safety, health care, debt reduction, and so on. Low income countries have the added challenge of well, low income – which limits their capacity to improve conditions for the poorest communities. But this toolkit provides options for even those communities to consider. One of the biggest challenges is to be proactive rather than reactive. The typical response to proactive resilience measures are that they are a “solution looking for a problem”. The great value of Thomas Moullier’s book , is that it provides key people in government or industry seeking to improve their country’s building regulatory systems, either reactively or proactively, with an excellent source of information and best practices so that they can hit the ground running so to speak. Moullier’s excellent book has succeeded in making the subject of building regulation almost sexy.

  22. Kim lovegrove

    Great insights Michael as to building regulation being " sexy", that's a bridge too far. I prefer to say Thomas has a certain "Elan" or "Je Ne sais quoi". The most useful thing about the piece that we coined is that it's hyperlinked to the report. The report has indeed been widely circulated and is gaining a lot of momentum. Readers if you haven't downloaded it you are encouraged to do so and feel free to share and join the commentary stream.

  23. Brian Thorrington

    In 2006 an earthquake of 6.4 struck central and coastal Java. The earthquake left in its wake absolute carnage. In Jogjakarta the main city alone there were 5700 deaths, 37000 "reported" injures and financial losses of 29.1 trillion Indonesian rupiah ($3.1Billion US). It is fantastic to see that Moullier and the team at the World Bank are investing energy in the critical area of disaster recovery. I live in Bali and NZ and am married to an Indonesian so I have a particular empathy for our people. Sadly this part of the world sometimes does not grab world attention but I was in Bali at the time and can report that friends of mine helped with the disaster relief and the extent of injuries and mortalities were apocolyptic. The magnitude of the injuries were such that medical resources could not accomodate the demand. We always hear of those who die less is heard about the survivors, one of my friends/helpers recounted to me his attending to a woman who had sustained a fractured skull and the poor soul`s brains were exposed. So yes this work is paramount and I love the fact that the World Bank is being proactive, rather than reactive for it is the preempting of that which can occur and the preparing for the worst, that is the key factor that saves lives.

  24. A big topic and one that needs to be addressed in context of the financial status of the area of the country concerned. With respect we live (in NZ) in a country with known and as yet undiscovered fault lines. We are a suite of small Islands with two oceans sweeping around us and a tectonic plate grinding away beneath us. It is a wet country with threats of erosion and continued adaptation. What building can withstand the promise that it will never fail in these circumstances? Even if we raised the bars higher than before what about the real economics of addressing all the old and current building stock. Resilience in my mind is finding a solution we can live with in the context of the risks we endure every day and pray that the disaster is not in our lifetime. The economic reality is that we may have to revert to mobile homes and tents to escape so that we are ready to "rebuild" our lives again elsewhere should disaster occur.

  25. Phoebe Thorrington

    I am a Student studying at Massey University in Palmerston North in New Zealand .
    For many years my Farther has been involved in property development in in Bali Indonesia.
    The villas he has built were all enginered in the west .
    Dads concern had been heighted when he saw how on his first project none of the columns were tied into the foundation leaving the entire structure floating. With the obvious risk of earthquakes in the Indonesian archipelago and the fact that these buildings would be patronised by mainly western tourists the cost to up spec structural work was nominal when compared to the potential cost to life and the property in the advent of a building collapse.
    Now whilst Dad could see the value in making the building safe moreover, he could afford to do so .
    Both the point of awareness of proper and safe construction standards and the ability to fund these by local people are at the heart of what it seems The World Bank and Mr Moullier and Mr Lovegrove will be addressing .
    Designing a code that standardised safe practices and therefore saves the lives of people who need this support is far more than worthwhile it is an imperative .
    I personally feel that globally very little could be of greater value than saving lives to such a degree.
    Phoebe Lou Thorrington

  26. Kim Lovegrove

    Great insights Phoebe.