Approved by the Infrastructure and Research Policy Committee on March 27, 2023
Approved by the Public Policy and Practice Committee on June 15, 2023
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 22, 2023
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) supports sustained efforts to improve professional practices in planning, design, construction, operation, maintenance, and decommissioning of civil infrastructure that mitigate the effects of natural and human-induced hazards. ASCE is committed to developing standards and participating in other national and international initiatives that incorporate resilience and sustainability as a fundamental performance criterion and encourage mitigating the effects of hazards and improvement of warning systems against impending hazards. ASCE collaborates and cooperates with government, non-government organizations (NGO), and private agency initiatives and supports activities for hazard mitigation, emergency preparedness, and disaster response and recovery. ASCE supports efforts to ensure sufficient funding at all levels of government is available for research, development, adoption, and enforcement of standards that emphasizes resilience, sustainability, emergency preparedness planning, and disaster response and recovery.
ASCE also supports research in the social sciences which contributes to our understanding of the factors that influence the ways that individuals, communities, and organizations respond to disasters. ASCE believes that public education on preparedness and response is an important component of mitigating the impact of disasters.
Natural hazards are forces of nature such as droughts, dust storms, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, landslides, tornadoes, tsunamis, wildfires, heavy winter storms, volcano eruptions, and other events. Human-induced hazards include explosive, chemical, biological, cyber, and radiological attacks and other accidents or terrorist acts. Natural and human-induced hazards may result in loss of life, damage and destruction of property, and interruption of business that causes immediate and long-term economic, social, and environmental losses. Appropriate mitigation measures can significantly reduce these losses.
Civil engineers have a responsibility to educate the public on risks. According to the National Academy of Sciences, “the key to reducing loss of life, personal injuries, and damage from natural disasters is widespread public awareness and education. People must be made aware of what natural hazards they are likely to face in their own communities. They should know in advance what specific preparations to make before an event, what to do during a hurricane, earthquake, flood, fire, or other likely event, and what actions to take in its aftermath.
ASCE is a prominent stakeholder in national and international efforts toward hazard mitigation because civil engineers hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the public. ASCE develops and maintains standards, supports the funding of professional guideline-writing organizations, and works with governments at all levels to assist in mitigating the impacts of natural and human-induced hazards.
As the stewards of infrastructure, civil engineers, plan, design, construct, operate, maintain, renovate, retrofit, reuse, and decommission buildings, bridges, roads, pipelines, towers, dams, and other infrastructure systems which are susceptible to natural and man-made hazards.
Performance-based standards emphasizing resilience and sustainability are needed to assure that appropriate and consistent methods are available worldwide for mitigating natural and human-induced hazards. These standards rely on the collaborative work of various agencies and professional societies. Adequate funding is needed for professional guideline-writing organizations, such as the Building Seismic Safety Council and the American Lifelines Alliance.
As the leading professional society representing civil engineers involved in mitigating the effects of disasters on the physical and natural built environment, ASCE needs to maintain its leadership role in improving practices that reduce vulnerability and improve resilience.
This policy has worldwide application.
ASCE Policy Statement 389
First Approved in 1992