How Mitigation Saves in Emergency Management
The Atlantic Hurricane Season is upon us. And though forecasters are expecting a milder season, we must all be prepared, to save lives and property. Some of those preparations should have happened a while ago. Why? Emergency management mitigation efforts against critical events – not just hurricanes – don’t just save people and assets. They save money, too. How so?
Emergency management mitigation measures pay off down the road
Indeed, the data conclude that cost-effective mitigation efforts, particularly in climate-vulnerable areas, pay off significantly. Which ones, and by how much?
The measures cited in the Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves report include the following:
Adopting and strengthening building codes
Adopting the latest building code requirements saves USD 11 per USD 1 invested. Building codes have greatly improved society’s disaster resilience, while adding only about 1 per cent to construction costs relative to 1990 standards. The greatest benefits accrue to communities using the most recent code editions.
Upgrading existing buildings
Private-sector building retrofits could save USD 4 per USD 1 cost. Investments of over USD 500 billion to upgrade residences could save more than USD 2 trillion.
Improving transportation systems
Lifeline retrofit saves USD 4 per USD 1 cost. Society relies on telecommunications, roads, power, water, and other lifelines. Case studies show that upgrading lifelines to better resist disasters helps our economy and society.
Mitigations address longstanding vulnerabilities
In fact, federal grants themselves have good ROI. Since 1995, public-sector mitigations financed by FEMA, EDA, and HUD cost the country USD 27 billion but are said to save the public USD 160 billion.
The larger question is why?
Well, targeted mitigations address longstanding vulnerabilities arising from social and political processes. At least, that’s the contention climatologists like Friederike Otto of the Imperial College London makes.
Otto contends that many vulnerabilities are the result of poor planning, particularly in urban areas. The results include inadequate infrastructure and a lack of social support systems, which then exacerbate impacts from critical events.
Resilience efforts to address longstanding vulnerabilities
Given that context, what should public-sector stakeholders be doing?
Certain jurisdictions are already acting. By addressing human-caused social and physical vulnerabilities, they are shifting away from defensive actions and towards proactive risk management.
In Australia, for instance, the former Morrison Government introduced a National Resilience and Climate Adaptation Strategy 2021-2025.
What did the Strategy aim to do?
The Strategy was meant to operate across four domains, (1) natural, (2) built, (3) social, (4) and economic, identifying the following three objectives as needed to enable more effective adaptation:
Objective 1: Drive investment and action through collaboration
Governments, businesses, and communities collaborate to build resilience and adapt.
Objective 2: Improve climate information and services
Australia has information to better predict, manage, and adapt to climate change.
Objective 3: Assess progress and improve over time
Australia assesses national climate impacts, evaluates adaptation progress, and continuously improves.
What about private stakeholders? To the extent practicable, these stakeholders should also be proactively changing focus to mitigation activities, promoting coordinated development and management to achieve resilience, improve response, and cut down on recovery costs. What other mitigation measures can help and save money?
Download our guide, The ROI of Mitigation Measures in Emergency Management, to find out.