Global Platform Field Visits, 24 May 2013:
DRR Endeavours in Switzerland

Disaster risk reduction in the Swiss Alps: challenges and opportunities

The Swiss Alps are densely populated and highly hazard-prone with snow avalanches in winter, and debris flows and flooding in summer. In addition, the Alps are prone to landslides, rock falls and moderate earthquakes. The area is challenged by the various facets of climate change. Many settlements, tourist stations, industrial areas as well as international transit routes are therefore at risk.

In the past 25 years, Switzerland experienced several major disasters causing heavy damage and losses in 1987, 1993, 1999, 2000, 2005, and 2011. Consequently, Switzerland has changed its disaster risk reduction approach from a hazard-oriented management approach towards an integrated risk management approach.

Immediately following the Fourth Session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, Switzerland will be conducting three field visits on Friday 24 May 2013. The aim of the field visits is to directly observe the threats, challenges and opportunities of living in a risk prone environment, and experience the practical side of disaster risk reduction.

Field Visit 1: Route du Grand St. Bernhard - Risk management along an international transit route

Field Visit 1

The "Route du Grande St. Bernard" is a significant transit route linking Switzerland and Italy. The route is often affected by floods, debris flows, snow avalanches or rock falls. Risk management is required for road traffic, Alpine settlements, as well as an oil pipeline. Prevention, mitigation and preparedness measures are part of an integrated risk management strategy and approach.

Field visit 1 will provide insight into an integrated approach, including opportunities to observe avalanche protection measures, early warning and evacuation schemes for floods, flash floods, and traffic control. The tour will emphasize the need for sound evidence related to hazards and risks, as well as the benefits of an integrated approach especially for transit routes.

Field Visit 2: Rhone River - Flood risk management

Field Visit 2

The Rhone Valley, upstream of Lake Geneva, is a 100 km long Alpine valley. With only a small width of 1 to 5 km, the valley floor is home to several cities and towns, industrial plants, major transit routes (road, railway) and intensive agriculture. The Rhone River and tributary rivers have caused major flooding in the past. The flood risk management model in Rhone Valley follows an integrated approach.

Field visit 2 will provide insight into the integrated approach, including the "3rd Rhone River training works", flood proofing of important infrastructure, as well as monitoring and warning systems.

Field Visit 3: Seismic Risk Reduction – Earthquake resistant buildings and crisis management

Field Visit 3

The Alpine mountain range surrounding the Rhone Valley is one of the most earthquake-prone areas of Switzerland. High-magnitude earthquakes may occur but with very low frequency. The last damaging earthquake occurred in Sierre in 1946. Due to the high relief even low intensity tremors may induce landslides and similar secondary hazards.

Field visit 3 will provide insight into the Integrated Risk Management approach, including the seismic retrofitting of buildings and infrastructure. The tour will showcase preparedness, recovery plans and management of a possible low frequency earthquake event.

Organizing details

The field visits will take place on 24 May 2013.

• Registration is on a first come first serve basis.
• Confirmation of participation and a detailed program will be sent before the Global Platform.
• Participants will leave Geneva by train at 8am and will return to Geneva at 6pm.
• Transportation (by train and bus) and lunch will be provided by Switzerland.
• The tours will be in English.
• Some short walks are planned: Good shoes, rain coat and sun protection are required.
• Cost of participation is CHF 50 per participant, payable at the Swiss Field Visit Counter at the venue of the Global Platform 2013.


Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland
SDC Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation / Humanitarian Aid
Sägestrasse 77
3003 Berne
Phone: +41 31 322 12 08
Fax: +41 31 324 16 94

Online registration now closed

For special requests, please contact the organizers directly at the email address above.