The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


DPU contributes to UN’s International Strategy for Disaster Reduction 2013 Global Assessment Report

26 June 2013

production of risk in urban construction

At an assembly in New York on May 15, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched the UN's International Strategy for Disaster Reduction 2013 Global Assessment Report (GAR13). The topic of the GAR13 is how "public regulation and private investment shapes disaster risk".

This is the 3rd time UNISDR has produced a global report (other reports in 2009, 2011). It was headed by Andrew Maskrey (who was at one time a research assistant at the DPU under John Turner) and is based on a large amount of background papers commissioned from different research institutes around the world and into a report by the UNISDR GAR team. Cassidy Johnson led a team that contributed a DPU background paper entitled, "Private sector investment decisions in building and construction: increasing, managing and transferring risks" that had particular influence on Chapter 8 of the report. This can clearly be seen in the diagrams 8.2 "Factors that influence the production of risk in urban construction," 8.1: "Types of risk inducing construction practices and who bears the burden of risk" and 8.6 "Overview of critical actors, their stake and influence, engaged in different project stages in construction".  

The background paper is essentially a synthesis of four commissioned case studies from Bangladesh (Dhaka), Nigeria (Lagos), Thailand (Bangkok), and the United Kingdom. It draws together evidence about the influence of the private sector on development decisions, within the context of regulatory frameworks, finance and governance systems, and within the larger political economy of development. The commissioned case studies are complemented by a review of literature from the fields of construction management, disasters and the built environment, and urban development.

In a global context where the building of cities is largely driven by private sector interests, this paper looks at the underlying factors that lead private sector investments in building and construction to increase levels of disaster risks. It also looks at how local regulatory environments, such as land-use planning, environmental management, building standards, fiscal policies for investment, facilitate or hinder disaster risk reduction within the building and construction sector. The paper draws out potentials and incentives for the private sector in building and construction to adopt risk reducing measures. 

Cassidy worked alongside Ibidun Adelekan (Nigeria case study), Lee Bosher (UK case study), Huraera Jabeen (Bangladesh case study), Shailesh Kataria (literature review), Ann Wijitbusaba Marome (Thailand case study), Boris Zerjav (literature review) and Fatemeh Arefian (research assistant). Many of the names are recognizable friends of DPU while Farnaz is a current DPU PhD candidate.

The DPU also collaborated with IIHS on diagrams for their background paper contribution paper which covered a similar topic using four case-study construction projects in New Delhi.

A journal article based on the DPU’s original background paper is planned for the summer.