The World Bank Group Announces Major New Building Policy
GENEVA—The World Bank Group has announced a major new building policy which should address concerns expressed in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the global plan for reducing disaster risk and disaster losses.
The initiative has been launched weeks before the anniversary of the Nepal earthquake which cost 8,857 lives and US$10 billion or 50% of the impoverished country’s GDP. The April 25 earthquake was followed by another on May 12, strong reminders of how non-compliance with building codes can exact a high price.
The World Bank’s Building for Resilience program will leverage good practice in building regulation as part of a strategy to reduce both chronic risk and disaster risk. By avoiding the creation of new risk, it will help set developing countries on the path to effective reform and long-term resilience.
Citing UNISDR’s Global Assessment Report’s projection that the future expected annual losses in the built environment resulting from disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, cyclones and flooding are expected to rise from roughly USD 300 billion to USD 415 billion by 2030, the World Bank Group seeks to develop a new stream of activities to increase regulatory capacity and in turn promote a healthier, safer, and less risky built environment.
In the last decade, low- and middle-income countries have experienced 53 percent of all disasters globally—but have accounted for 93 percent of disaster-related fatalities. This disproportionate impact stems in large part from unsafe and unregulated urban development an issue which UNISDR has been targetting for the last six years through the Making Cities Resilient Campaign which has over 3,000 members committed to best practice in urbanisation.
The world—and the developing world in particular—is embarking on a major urban development boom, a trend that makes safe and regulated building practices all the more crucial. Currently, more than 50 percent of the global population is urban, and by 2050, this share is expected to rise to 66 percent. By 2050, 1 billion new dwelling units will be required to house the world’s growing population.
Most of this growth is expected to occur in cities with weak capacity to ensure risk-sensitive development and construction, and will take place as weather-related hazards become more frequent and intense.
In accord with Priority 3 of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015–2030), the program responds to and reinforces the growing international consensus on the importance of building and land use regulation. The program aims to implement a vigorous building regulatory reform agenda by means of the following actions:
• Ensuring the safety of new construction and reducing the risk of existing vulnerable settlements through regulatory reform
• Orienting regulatory and governance reforms toward compliance advice and support rather than just enforcement
• Developing the capacity of national and subnational institutions to implement building regulations that address chronic health and safety issues as well as disaster risk (i.e., ensuring sufficient funding, staffing, and training at the local level)
• Developing building standards that are accessible, affordable, and implementable by the poor and vulnerable, while also improving tenure security and reducing the cost of entry to legal land and housing markets
• Promoting innovation for effective building control, including simplifying administrative procedures and reducing regulatory compliance costs • Leveraging private sector technical resources to expand the qualified workforce for regulatory implementation.