AECOM is Key Player in U.N. R!SE Launch in the United States

May 13, 2015 11:00 AM ET

AECOM was a key player in the U.S. launch of the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) R!SE (Risk-Sensitive Investments) Initiative, an ambitious, global response to the daunting challenge of addressing climate change adaptation and disaster-risk reduction worldwide. The initiative fosters collaboration between public and private-sector stakeholders who are taking a leadership role on disaster-risk reduction.

Led by AECOM Chief Sustainability Officer Gary Lawrence, Technology and Practices Director Dale Sands, and Climate Change Project Manager Allan Klindworth, AECOM is a partner organization leading one of six work streams that make up the initiative.

Thanks to the UNISDR, R!SE Alliance Partners and the City of Boston, 130 participants from different sectors, levels of government, regions, and backgrounds came together recently in Massachusetts, to kick off the national discussion of how best to increase society's resilience to natural disasters. 

Highlights of the event included Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh sharing his thoughts on the importance of promoting resiliency.  

The event brought people and organizations together in the United States for the first time to explore how to develop concepts and projects to increase society's overall resiliency by promoting disaster-risk-sensitive investments. The discussions from various perspectives in both the public and private sectors continue to reflect a substantial growth opportunity for AECOM.

Climate adaptation has gained importance in recent years as the financial impact of natural disasters has increased. It is estimated that more than $200 billion per year in losses have occurred since 1980 due to natural disasters, and 75 percent of those losses are uninsured, leaving individuals and governments liable. More than 2,000 cities worldwide have signed a declaration the U.N. launched in 2010 that they will adhere to the 10 Essentials for Resiliency, a 10-point checklist and the building block for disaster risk reduction. Disaster preparedness could go a long way in reducing the costs of these disasters, as the California Emergency Management Agency found that for every $1 invested in planning, cities and industry will save between $4 and $7 in disaster-response costs. One barrier to implementing preparedness efforts is funding, and the Rockefeller Foundation has set aside $100 million for cities to create resiliency programs, but more funding is needed. Because cities have multiple systems that will need to coordinate activities, the foundation requires appointment of a resiliency coordinator. Another barrier to building resilience is in gaining more awareness of the need.

More cities can participate in making a difference in climate change awareness and disaster-risk reduction by signing the Making My City Resilient Campaign declaration.

Sign up here to make your city resilient!

For more information on AECOM’s relationship with the UNISDR, check out an AECOM Impact blog post from Dale Sands.

AECOM is a premier, fully integrated professional and technical services firm positioned to design, build, finance and operate infrastructure assets around the world for public- and private-sector clients. With nearly 100,000 employees — including architects, engineers, designers, planners, scientists and management and construction services professionals — serving clients in over 150 countries around the world, AECOM is ranked as the #1 engineering design firm by revenue in Engineering News-Record magazine’s annual industry rankings, and has been recognized by Fortune magazine as a World’s Most Admired Company. The company is a leader in all of the key markets that it serves, including transportation, facilities, environmental, energy, oil and gas, water, high-rise buildings and government. AECOM provides a blend of global reach, local knowledge, innovation and technical excellence in delivering customized and creative solutions that meet the needs of clients’ projects. A Fortune 500 firm, AECOM companies, including URS Corporation and Hunt Construction Group, had revenue of approximately $19 billion during the 12 months ended March 31, 2015. More information on AECOM and its services can be found at

Media Contact:
Ed Mayer
Vice President, Corporate Communications