Kahramanmaras, Türkiye Photographer: Midary/Shutterstock
Poor building quality and code compliance aggravated the damage caused by recent earthquakes in Republic of Türkiye and Syria. But could it have been a different story?
The past decade has seen a number of natural disasters, and the enormous social, economic and financial losses associated with these – not to mention the loss of life – were partly exacerbated by unplanned and uncontrolled urbanisation and infrastructure.
In response to these disasters, 187 of the 193 UN states came together under the UN Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030 to tackle the increasing number of losses.
Over the past two decades, natural hazards and their after-effects have accounted for the loss of 1.3m human lives and reported economic losses of US$2.9bn.
Moreover, according to data published in the UN Office for Disaster Reduction 2020 annual report, disaster risks in developing countries could lead to economic losses of up to 19% of annual GDP. This could eradicate years of growth, imposing severe strain on economies and plunging people into poverty.
Disasters result from natural or biological hazards and human vulnerabilities. Floods, tsunamis, wildfires, earthquakes and other extreme climatic conditions account for natural hazards, while biological hazards include pandemics such as COVID-19. Added to this, global climate change has increased the frequency, intensity, extent and duration of extreme weather events, exacerbating natural and biological hazards alike.
Under the Sendai framework, there are four main priorities to reduce the frequency and impact of hazards, as follows.
There are still a number of challenges for integrating DRR into construction, however.
'There are still a number of challenges for integrating disaster risk reduction into construction'
In October, the University of Huddersfield – assisted by RICS – drew attention to the issues with DRR in a guide for the built environment.
However, governments still need to take action. Through the Sendai framework, the UN has secured agreement from 187 member states to take action. Yet the recent earthquakes in Republic of Türkiye and Syria show the scale of the task ahead.
Working with its partners at the University of Huddersfield, RICS is willing to take a lead on this for those parties around the globe that want to ensure the countries and communities at risk are adequately protected.