GHI/OECD School Earthquake Safety Policy
Time frame: 2008-present
GHI has worked for many years at the grass roots level to improve the capacity of communities to manage their earthquake risk. GHI raises public awareness of risk, trains engineers and masons, and conducts demonstration projects, such as seismically retrofitting schools. While GHI has met with significant success using this grass roots approach, there is a parallel need to bring pressure to bear “top down”—that is, to hold governments publicly responsible for implementing adequate disaster preparedness and mitigation programs in their countries. Public accountability is the key to ending government excuses after an earthquake disaster, such as claiming that it was impossible to prevent or that the lack of preparedness was the responsibility of a previous administration.
GHI worked with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)’s Programme on Educational Building (PEB) to organize an Experts’ Meeting on Earthquake Safety in Schools in Paris, France in February 2004. The experts agreed that the OECD Council should pass a resolution requiring OECD member countries to have an accredited school earthquake safety program. The Meeting developed guidelines for what would constitute an accredited program.
In July 2004, the experts’ recommendations from that meeting were approved by the PEB Governing Board. In August 2004, the recommendations were published in a 250-page OECD report, Keeping Schools Safe in Earthquakes. In July 2005, the OECD Council approved the OECDRecommendationFINAL”>OECD Recommendation Concerning Guidelines on Earthquake Safety in Schools. This action marked the Council’s first recommendation in the field of education.
By passing its School Earthquake Safety resolution, the OECD Council recognized that each member government had a responsibility to implement an accredited school earthquake safety program. In addition, the resolution called for a report, three years later, on the progress that the governments were making toward implementing such programs.
The OECD Recommendation accomplished “disclosure” of governments’ responsibility and the progress that they are making toward fulfilling that responsibility.
Brian Tucker continues to work with PEB staff on their progress reporting.