Global Standardization Activities

Vol. 13, No. 4, pp. 58–63, Apr. 2015.

R!SE Initiative Activities of the United Nations

Osamu Takino, Yasuo Ishigure, and Yuji Maeda


Natural disasters result in serious human and economic damage and are a serious threat to continuing global growth. To accelerate disaster prevention and disaster risk reduction and to make knowledge dissemination more widespread, the United Nations has initiated cooperative projects between the public and private sectors. NTT is also involved with this initiative. The ongoing activities of the initiative are described here.

Keywords: R!SE initiative, disaster risk reduction, UNISDR,


1. Overview of United Nations’ efforts in disaster risk reduction

In recent years, large-scale natural disasters have occurred worldwide due in part to the effect of climate change and geological phenomena, and they have wrought serious human and economic damage (Table 1).

Table 1. Large-scale disasters and resulting damage.

The United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) was established in 2000 to assist countries and communities to become more resilient against disasters by implementing disaster risk reduction strategies, and its efforts are continuing. UNISDR sponsored the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) held in January 2005 in Kobe, Japan. The Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) 2005–2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities against Disasters was adopted there. To make HFA possible, UNISDR has been supporting the building of cooperative relationships between member countries and advising and aiding in the planning of disaster risk reduction strategies for each country.

Conventionally, disaster prevention planning and execution was largely led by the public sector of a country and local government, and the effects of their actions were limited to the respective local communities. However, globalization means that businesses are connected through many types of worldwide supply chains. As a result, a distant natural disaster can result in unexpected economic damage to businesses [1]. For example, when the Thai flood crisis occurred in 2011, many manufacturers far from Thailand suffered because of the unavailability of components manufactured in Thailand.

This article introduces the R!SE (Disaster Risk-Sensitive Investment) initiative, a strategy launched by UNISDR from a global perspective to reduce the risks of natural disasters. It is a cooperative organization between the public and private sectors. We also report on NTT’s contributions to the R!SE initiative.

2. Background of R!SE initiative

UNISDR launched the R!SE initiative based on the two following objectives [2].

(1) A natural disaster has the potential to economically damage many far away stakeholders because of the structure of worldwide supply chains. Therefore, such disasters are not exclusively regional problems. However, it may be possible to reduce the damage from natural disasters if we treat them as a common risk, and if the private sector in a foreign country and the public sector of a local community aggressively invest in disaster prevention.

(2) It is important to share the large amount of disaster prevention knowledge gained in the private sector with many other enterprises and with countries throughout the world. As experience and knowledge of disaster prevention investment is increasingly shared, the spread of disaster prevention and disaster risk reduction worldwide may accelerate.

Therefore, the R!SE initiative was begun as a way for the public and private sectors to cooperate. Public and private sector organizations such as insurance companies, investment-related organizations, and educational institutions work together to accelerate the investment in disaster prevention measures [2] (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1. Basic alliance of R!SE initiative.

Activities to increase the disaster resilience of the global economy are underway and are aimed at incorporating disaster prevention measures into a regional development investment strategy in order to maintain continuous global development. The activities are also aimed at turning communities into disaster-resilient communities, which will attract investment in disaster prevention and disaster risk reduction.

A launch event of the R!SE initiative was held by UNISDR in May 2014 [3]. NTT—the only Japanese company—received a request from the UN to participate in the R!SE initiative launch ceremony, and Yasuyoshi Katayama, Senior Executive Vice President of NTT (at that time) attended the ceremony and approved the main ideas of UNISDR regarding disaster risk reduction. He also said he would like to utilize NTT’s experience in dealing with the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake in future R!SE initiative activities [4].

3. Organization and activities of the R!SE initiative

3.1 Organization

The concept of the R!SE initiative is based on disaster risk-sensitive investment [2]. This means that a safer world is possible with widespread investment activities that are intended to have a disaster prevention effect. The initiative concurrently promotes multilateral activities such as the development of a common index to evaluate business corporations and the disaster risk reduction solutions adopted by them, and a common index to estimate the current state of disaster prevention measures in a city.

UNISDR determines the entire directionality of the R!SE initiative by communicating with the R!SE management team at the UN Headquarters. Eight Activity Streams (ASs) have been created. Through development of a common index, higher educational programs and cooperation efforts between the public and private sectors have begun. The R!SE organization [2] and AS structure [2] are presented in Fig. 2 and Table 2.

Fig. 2. Organization of R!SE initiative.

Table 2. AS structure of R!SE initiative.

3.2 Eight Activity Streams

(1) AS 1: Disaster risk management (DRM) strategies

This AS is led by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Through this activity, standard tools to evaluate the DRM status of a company will be developed in order to gather knowledge on disaster prevention while considering the intellectual property and reputation of the donating company, then to share this knowledge over the portal site. Many businesses will be able to refer to good practices of disaster risk reduction and to advance their own DRM.

(2) AS 2: Risk metrics

This activity is aimed at developing a method for assuming the degree of risk to business in the event of a natural disaster and to predict the effect such a disaster would have on the national economy and the gross domestic product (GDP). This AS is led by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and is aimed at developing a risk model for every national disaster from their experience in developing a risk rating method for emerging companies. The developed method will make it easier to calculate what effect the occurrence of a disaster would have on business and on a country’s GDP.

(3) AS 3: DRM industry standards

This AS is led by PwC. It will help the respective industrial sectors to increase their disaster risk resilience, and create an industrial standard to enable cooperation for quick recovery from natural disasters.

(4) AS 4: DRM higher education

This AS is aimed at advancing education programs that promote disaster risk reduction efforts. This AS is led by Florida International University (FIU), and is intended to improve the curricula of business risk management and the development of education programs for academic institutions, training centers, and business associations for small- and medium-sized businesses.

(5) AS 5: Responsible investing

This AS is aimed at assisting owners and investment managers to consider disaster risk in their investment portfolios. It is led by Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) [5], and will help guide global investment behavior to consider disaster risk reduction.

(6) AS 6: Resilient cities

This AS is led by AECOM to increase the disaster resilience of cities. This AS will involve inspecting and improving the evaluation tool called Disaster Resilience Scorecard for Cities, which is designed for use by local governments to evaluate their disaster resilience situation. This tool includes many factors such as the degree of cooperation between the public sector, communities, and companies in the area. It is aimed at ensuring that the current state of disaster resilience of a city can be understood. This tool will help local governments consider a detailed strategy for disaster risk reduction investment through the results of self-evaluation.

(7) AS 7: Insuring resilience

This AS reconsiders disaster insurance from the viewpoint of disaster risk reduction. This AS is led by Willis and is aimed at providing insurance, especially in developing countries, in order to promote sustainable development.

(8) AS 8: DRM in United Nations

This AS is led by the UN and is aimed at increasing the disaster resilience of the UN against disasters and climate change, and supporting UN staff to promote education on disaster risk resilience. This AS is also aimed at providing education and training to UN staff while advancing cooperation between UN organizations and cooperation among the R!SE initiative members.

4. Mid- and long-term targets of the R!SE initiative and NTT’s future activities

Each AS activity of the R!SE initiative has set a target for 2020, as indicated in Table 3. The next milestone will be to report their progress at WCDRR, which will be held in Sendai, Japan, in March 2015.

Table 3. Achievement target of each AS by 2020.

NTT is planning to contribute to the R!SE initiative through cooperation with each participating company of AS 1, 3, and 6, using its knowledge and experience in the area of disaster reduction. In AS 1 (DRM strategies), NTT is planning to share a case of disaster risk management through disaster prevention and disaster risk reduction examples that NTT has obtained. In AS 3 (DRM industry standards), NTT is planning to contribute to establish standards that should be decided and adopted by businesses to increase disaster prevention and disaster resilience in a particular area through its experience as a communication carrier and an ICT (information and communication technology) partner. In AS 6 (Resilient cities), NTT is planning to use its knowledge in activities regarding the Disaster Resilience Score Card for Cities.

NTT will take part in disaster prevention in the R!SE initiative and standardization activities for disaster reduction in Japan and throughout the globe.


[1] Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction 2013,
[2] The R!SE Initiative program summary,!SE%20Program%20Summary%20V2.pdf
[3] Official Launch Event of the R!SE Initiative,
[4] NTT Public Relations Twitter feed on May 21, 2014 (in Japanese).
[5] Financial Services Agency, “Overview of International Corporate Governance Network and Principle for Responsible Investment,” Nov. 27, 2013 (in Japanese).
Osamu Takino
Senior Research Engineer, Security Risk Management Project, Emergency Management Operations Group, NTT Secure Platform Laboratories.
He received the B.E. and M.E. in computer control mechanical engineering from Osaka University in 1991 and 1993, respectively. He joined NTT Software Laboratories in 1993 and studied workflow management systems, office systems, location management systems, and smartcards. He also participated in a global multimedia experiment project in East Asia. He served as a Technical Committee member of the Global Platform and as a member of the team compiling IC card standards in the Digital Apartment project for the Chinese Ministry of Construction. After a transfer to NTT Communications, he worked in the areas of security solutions, application service development, and voice service development. He is currently working on a project to develop ICT systems that support disaster prediction. He received the Scholarship Encouragement Award from the Institute of Electronics, Information and Communication Engineers (IEICE) in 1996. He is a member of IEICE. He has been certified by (ISC)2 as a Certified Information Security Systems Professional.
Yasuo Ishigure
Senior Research Engineer, Security Risk Management Project, Emergency Management Operations Group, NTT Secure Platform Laboratories.
He received the B.E., M.E., and Ph.D. in electronic and information engineering from National Toyohashi University of Technology, Aichi, in 1995, 1997, and 2000, respectively. He joined NTT in 2000 and studied ultrahigh-realistic communication technologies including super-high-resolution (4K) and 3D image display systems and their human factors. During 2005–2010, he was Deputy Manager of the Life Science Business Promotion Office, Business Innovation Sector, and then Deputy Senior Analyst at the Research Institute for System Science, Research and Development Headquarters, at NTT DATA. Since 2010, he has been studying technologies related to e-Health services including electronic health records (EHRs) and personal health records (PHRs) at NTT Secure Platform Laboratories.
Yuji Maeda
Vice President, Senior Manager, Security Risk Management Project, NTT Secure Platform Laboratories.
He received the Ph.D. in systems information science from Future University Hakodate, Hokkaido, in 2013. He joined NTT Telecommunication Networks Laboratories in 1991. He is currently supervising a development project on medical and healthcare information systems and disaster-resilient information systems. He received the Scholarship Encouragement Award from IEICE in 1998. He is a senior member of IEICE, and a member of IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) and the Japanese Telemedicine and Telecare Association.