Building a risk-resistant society

Transform a disaster-prone country into a risk-resistant society, promising greater transparency and faster dissemination of information, both within and beyond its borders.

The government of Japan and risk experts from the World Economic Forum’s Risk Response Network met this week to draw lessons from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

“Risk communication is an important issue,” Yukio Edano, Chief Cabinet Secretary of Japan, told around 100 leaders from government, industry, academia, media and civil society at the Risk Response Network meeting. “We will make efforts to improve transparency and more readily share information.”

Participants generated innovative ideas for Japan’s recovery efforts, including: improving nuclear power governance; building better systems to communicate with the public in designing recovery policies; and promoting collaboration with the private sector, which can play a significant role in Japan’s post-disaster efforts.

“It is very appropriate to meet now in Japan,” said Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, in his opening address to participants. He underscored the importance of the discussion in helping the world at large to address risks that, if neglected, could result in crises with significant secondary and tertiary impacts. Sharing the lessons of Japan’s experience is crucial in helping others in building risk resilience, he argued.

The major lesson participants drew attention to was the need for improved, open communication. Another lesson drawn from Japan’s experience was the effective and timely aid provided by civil society. There was consensus that the government and private sector must work closely with non-governmental organizations and others to mitigate risks and limit damage from disasters.

“This meeting was an important step in promoting the learning from both the successes and failures of Japan’s recent experiences,” said Kevin Steinberg, Head of the Forum’s Risk Response Network.

“Investing in risk management is more likely when catastrophic events are still present in the minds of people or when they occur close to home. Considering the ongoing situation in Japan and how close its impact is to everyone in an interconnected world, the time to make that investment in risk reduction is now,” he said.


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