We are doing science for policy
The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is the European Commission's science and knowledge service which employs scientists to carry out research in order to provide independent scientific advice and support to EU policy.
Natural and man-made hazards continuously threaten population in Europe and beyond. Managing risks associated with hazards is based on sound policy making in prevention, preparedness, response, and reconstruction activities. The JRC carries out extensive work to improve the scientific evidence base for risk assessment in Europe and worldwide, not only in hazard characterization, but also in vulnerability and exposure assessment (essential components for risk assessment) and development of guidelines and standards for risk data (including disaster loss data).
The JRC provides the knowledge base the helps the Commission, EU countries and international partners prepare for and respond to natural and man-made disasters.
For disaster risk reduction, forensics and scientific risk and impact modelling, impacts of disasters must be recorded at quite detailed level and using methodologies that allow aggregation over space and time. Moving from anecdotal evidence driven mainly by media coverage of disastrous events to a scientific method to consistently and accurately recording losses is essential, and partnerships between scientific organisations, academics, governments and private firms are necessary.
The JRC has stepped up work in this area. The JRC is part of several international groups that aim to develop loss standards, including the Integrated Research on Disaster Risk DATA working group, and is developing, in close collaboration with the Directorate General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (DG ECHO), standards for loss databases in the EU.
In 2009, a framework for EU cooperation on disaster prevention across all types of natural and man-made hazards was agreed by the EU Member States. A fundamental building block for this prevention framework is risk assessment, which together with risk analysis, is the basis for a successful disaster management strategy. In 2011, the Council asked the Commission to develop an overview of the risks the EU may face in the future, based on national risk assessments. The overview focuses primarily on risks which are 'shared'; i.e. those with likely cross-border impacts, or those on a larger scale where impacts would be experienced by more than one Member State. The JRC is contributing to this process with technical and scientific support for top-down data (based on expertise with continental scale hazard mapping) and bottom-up analysis of national risk assessments.
The European Commission bases its decisions on humanitarian aid solely on assessment of the needs of the people concerned, in accordance with the principles of impartiality, neutrality and independence. It identifies the neediest people through an integrated assessment framework, comprising analysis in the field and a comparative analysis of countries based on national indicators. The JRC is providing scientific and technical support for the Global Vulnerability and Crisis Assessment, a composite index designed for this purpose.
The Commission has been advocating for common assessment of risk in the humanitarian sector. The JRC has been instrumental in enabling a participative process among donors, United Nations agencies, and Civil Society actors to build a common evidence base to assess risk. The Index for Risk Management (INFORM) is currently being beta-tested in several organisations. INFORM combines the latest research on humanitarian risk assessment, quantitative risk analysis and composite indicators and is developed, hosted and maintained at the JRC.
Watch the INFORM video