EU Working Group to conduct workshop on the state of the art of disaster loss data recording

A workshop meeting on “State of the art of disaster loss data recording in the EU: progress towards EU guidelines” is scheduled on 23-24 October 2014 at the European Response and Coordination Centre in Brussels, Belgium.

A working group of EU Member States, coordinated by the European’s Commission Joint Research Centre, and in partnership with international initiatives on disaster loss data, has examined the state of the art in Europe. The meeting will review progress and define a roadmap towards EU guidelines and minimum standards for recording disaster loss data.

In the process towards the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in 2015, disaster loss data have repeatedly been singled out as essential evidence for sound policy making and evaluating progress in reducing disaster risks. Already a key priority in the EU disaster prevention framework, the 2014 EU Council Conclusions on risk management capability reiterate the importance and invite the European Commission to take actions to encourage the EU Member States to develop systems, models or methodologies for collecting and exchanging data on ways to assess the economic impact of disasters on an all-hazard basis.

Recording disaster loss data is important, but no internationally agreed definitions or accounting practices exist for disaster loss data, making national and global statistics incomplete and unreliable. The awareness about the utility of loss data is also often lacking, in particular in governments where public compensation schemes are small or non-existent. Utility extends beyond accounting (for compensation schemes and policy monitoring) and includes prevention policy (through forensic data) and risk assessment (through the development of accurate and localized damage functions for risk models).

During recent years, disasters are increasing both in frequency and intensity and this trend is likely to continue. (Photo: European Commission)
During recent years, disasters are increasing both in frequency and intensity and this trend is likely to continue. (Photo: European Commission)

To identify the gaps and challenges for recording loss data in Europe and identify and promote the opportunities for policy making, the Directorate General Joint Research Centre was tasked in 2013 to establish an expert working group with members from EU Member States to report on the current state of the art in Europe and recommend best practices and guidelines. Fifteen Member States participated to three meetings organized in 2014.

The working group benefited also from an exchange of information with the United Nations Agency for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and an international working group addressing Loss Data affiliated with the Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR), as well as various academic and scientific institutions. The EU and the IRDR DATA working group held a joint meeting in May 2014. The Disaster Loss Data (DATA) Working Group of the Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR, an ICSU/UNISDR initiative) is studying issues related to the collection, storage and dissemination of disaster loss data. The Co-Chairs of the Disaster Loss Data Working Group are the University of South Carolina, USA, Munich RE, Germany. Among other objectives, the Working Group aims at providing better definitions of loss and related terms and creating a standard methodology for assessing it, at sub-national geographies.

The overview of the current practices in recording disaster loss data in EU Member States shows that the methodologies implemented in each country are appropriate for their purpose. However, to make the databases compatible with requirements for sharing data among Member States and with international organisations they all would require adjustments or completion. The loss recording practices also would need to be strengthened to make the data useful at national level beyond narrowly defined objectives, e.g. for prevention policy and risk assessment. For more details, see: