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IBC supports regional platform for disaster risk reduction outcomes, vows to continue working with government

March 15, 2017   by Canadian Underwriter

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Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) has voiced the property and casualty industry’s continued support for efforts by the federal government to enhance disaster risk reduction and make communities more resilient.

“Our industry remains committed to being a full partner with the federal government as we work together to make Canadian communities safer, stronger and more resilient in the fight against the severe weather effects of climate change,” Craig Stewart, vice president of federal affairs at IBC, the national industry association representing Canada’s private home, auto and business insurers, said in a statement this week.

Stewart’s remarks follow the completion of the Fifth Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas (RP17), hosted by the Government of Canada, in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Risk Reduction (UNISDR), and held this month in Montreal.

Related: World conference adopts new international framework for disaster risk reduction after marathon negotiations

Delegates from across the Americas gathered at RP17 to discuss efforts to reduce disaster risks posed by natural and human-induced hazards and to approve a Regional Action Plan (RAP) that meets the United Nations Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, notes a statement from Public Safety Canada (PSC).

Minister Goodale with ministers and high-level officials at the Fifth Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas

Wildfires in Canada, the United States and in Chile, as well as high-profile disasters like Hurricane Matthew, have put the spotlight squarely on risk in the Americas.

Ralph Goodale, Canada’s minister of public safety and emergency preparedness, released during RP17 the first iteration of Canada’s Federal Floodplain Mapping Framework, developed in consultation with provincial and territorial partners and key stakeholders.

Led by PSC and Natural Resources Canada, the joint project seeks to contribute to the Sendai Framework Priority One “Understanding the Risks.” Representing the first in a series of Floodplain Mapping Guidelines, the statement notes the new framework is meant to help reduce flood risk and, ultimately, associated costs domestically.

The p&c insurance industry supports the initiative, the IBC notes, adding it “will help Canadian provinces, municipalities, and citizens better plan and prepare for floods.”

Information posted on PSC’s website states that “overland flooding costs the Canadian economy more than any other hazard we face, and is the single largest draw on the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements (DFAA).”

Floodplain mapping, the federal department adds, “identifies the boundaries of a potential flood event and is critical to support informed decisions and investments to reduce the impacts of flooding in communities across Canada.”

In addition to that development, senior officials from across the Americas approved the RAP and the Montreal Declaration, which reinforces the high level commitment of ministers and senior officials to disaster risk reduction (DRR).

“The RAP marks an evolutionary step towards a concerted regional approach to supporting countries in their efforts to build community resilience and reduce disaster risk and impacts,” notes the PSC statement. “It serves as a foundation to further the implementation of the Sendai Framework for DRR’s four key priorities,” it adds.

Related: Canada must work to be better-prepared for natural disasters: IBC’s Forgeron

The RAP marks an evolutionary step towards a concerted regional approach to supporting countries in their efforts to build community resilience and reduce disaster risk and impacts. It serves as foundation to further the implementation of the Sendai Framework’s DRR priorities.

RAP has 16 regional initiatives, including the following:

  • strengthen disaster risk information systems through supporting national multi-hazard systems, disaster risk mapping initiatives, traditional knowledge, and methodologies for calculating economic, cultural and social losses from extensive and intensive disasters;
  • strengthen of monitoring and recording of potential and existing disaster risks, with specific focus on historical record-keeping to inform future actions;
  • promote studies and integral evaluations on multi-hazard disaster risk, including climate change projections, and the identification of regional research priorities;
  • strengthen disaster risk management strategies, governance and mechanisms and their evaluation at appropriate levels;
  • encourage regional studies on best practices concerning financial instruments for disaster risk transfer and management; and
  • promote the exchange of post-disaster recovery knowledge and best practices that incorporate the perspective of building back better to protect communities and their livelihoods.

“RP17 and the RAP will contribute to the recommendations to be put forward by the Americas region at the upcoming Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction, to be hosted in Cancun, Mexico in May 2017,” the statement adds.

“Disaster risk reduction efforts have proven time and again that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” Goodale says in the PSC statement.

“Our collective efforts to prevent and mitigate – as governments, stakeholders and as proud citizens and community members – will cost far less than the cost of responding and rebuilding, and the loss of lives and livelihood,” he adds.

The adoption of this RAP “marks a key step towards making the Americas more resilient to the interlocking natural and human-induced hazards that countries and populations here face,” says Robert Glasser, special representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction.

“It is vital for the future of our world that we all work together to reduce disaster mortality and economic impacts, and make the link between the Sendai Framework and the global agendas on sustainable development and climate change,” Glasser continues.

Discussions during an IBC-hosted panel – which brought together representatives from Canada, the United States, South America and the Caribbean – focused on how public-private partnerships and private sector innovation can complement and assist government efforts to reduce climate and disaster risks, the statement notes.

Related: Ottawa’s approach to disaster response, recovery does not address increasing frequency of extreme weather

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1 Comment » for IBC supports regional platform for disaster risk reduction outcomes, vows to continue working with government
  1. Frank Cain says:

    I thought we would have learned our lesson from the disastrous results of 1954’s Canadian portion of Hurricane Hazel. Consider the damage; 81deaths, 4000 families left homeless, water rising as high as 20 to 26 feet, highway 400 under 10 feet of water and where it was backed up, 20 feet, 50 bridges, important parts of highways, roads and railways washed away. Total cost locally, $100 million.

    Some storm surge culverts were built in and around Toronto as a consequence as was the creation of the Toronto Region Conservation Authority following Hazel. To more of less walk past the rhetoric on disaster prevention, what actually has been done to prevent another disaster such as Hazel caused? 63 years should be enough time to get all the ducks in order to work to that end. Instead, precious greenbelt as an absorber of water has been decimated by the plethora of new homes and businesses, giving asphalt a direct surface line to allow rains to run somewhere else, usually in someone’s basement.

    The insurance industry is doing its best to recover monies lost to extreme wet weather and other cat devastations by providing coverage that will take into account overland flooding and other areas hitherto excluded from water damage coverage. However, the absence of action in the past 63 years to turn this from an insurance rescue to a governmental loss control item is very similar in my mind to the attempt to make auto insurance work when the inevitability of an accident can no more be foretold that the next great flood, wind storm or ice catastrophe. It’s a clear indication, unfortunately, that all hope has been lost.

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